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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
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Sunset Bay on White Rock Lake in Dallas Texas

October 30 2012

 Sunset Bay Fishing Party - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sunset Bay Fishing Party

Used to call these collections of cormorants, pelicans and gulls "fishing armadas," even though I knew the arm in armada was about arms. Just that it looked like a flotilla, which it still is somewhat, but what it is is, is a fishing party. Some of those birds, some of the time, caught fish. Some of them did not, seemed to be just along for the fun.

Pelicans, Cormorants and a Gul - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans, Cormorants and a Gull

Double-crested Cormorants are dark brown to black. American White Pelicans, oddly enough, are white, and gulls are white with grays and browns. Nobody here is catching any fish, but they each seem to be heading off in a direction they think will let them find some fish. Far as I could see, none of them in doing much of that.

Flapping Gulls - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flapping Gulls, Pointing Cormorants and Swimming Pelicans

Gulls like fish, cormorants like fish, and pelicans like fish. That's primarily what these swimming birds have in common. Fish. The gulls will eat bread thrown by humans. I haven't seen cormorants do that. Pelicans only look with disdain at such activities.

One Pelican Getting A Fish - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Pelican with its Face in the Water Attempting to Acquire a Fish

The gulls, as usual, think it should be there, even if they were not — obviously — there first, or they would have got the fish.

Flapping for Fish - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flapping for Fish

The pelicans appear to be flapping to where they think fish are. Nobody else seems all that excited about the possibility. If there were more than one or two fishes, those gulls would be a lot more excited.

Gadwall and Coot - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Gadwall and One American Coot
 

Sunday October 28

Feathers in the Water - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

White Feathers in the Water

Whether they're on the grass or out in the water, a collection of de-ducked feathers like this almost always means a predator got another one.  I don't think the feathers were big enough for it to have been a pelican, but I just never know. I think it was probably a white duck. But I keep counting pelicans, and there were only 40 there this afternoon. Something got a middle or big-sized white bird and left its feathers splattered around in the water next to shore — or the floated there in the night or day.

Coots Preening and Wind-stretching - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American Coots Preening and Stretching its Wing

I didn't count the coots, but there were twice as many cormorants in the bay today as pelicans.

Coot Leg and Wing STretch - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Well-balanced Coot Stretching Its Wing and Left Leg

I was proud of myself for moving slow enough not to scare a single one of what I often think may be our most skittish bird, the American Coot. My movements were subtle and careful and continuous till any of them picked me out of their crowd, then I slowed even more. So I could get close enough with my little telephoto lens to get details like this at low ISO.

Those Amazing Lobed Feet - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Coot Showing Off Its Amazing Lobed Feet

I loves me some coot feet. Amazing peds!

Pelicans Preening - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicanos Preening

Pelican feet, by contrast, are delicate and smaller than some duck feet. But their long beaks are perfect for picking feathers and cleaning masses of them.

Preening Winfeathers - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Preening Wing Feathers

Took awhile to figure out that black blob beneath this pelican is the dark, mud ground littered with little pelican feathers preened from bigger pelicans.

Pelicans Preening - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans Preening

Of course, I have no idea where the rest of the pelicans were. Often, half or more of the flock that stays in White Rock Lake till mid next April go off to do some fishing elsewhere in the lake.

White, Black & Brown Ducks and a Couple of Coots - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

White, Black and Brown Ducks and a Couple of Coots

 

October 26

 Noble Beast - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Noble Beast(s)

Cool and rainy. Wet day. Splattering, raining, not raining, then again. I like to see what the birds are up to when the weather's different. Snow, especially, although this is Texas. Plus, I like fewer people to deal with. For another, it was cool enough to wear a long-sleeved shirt, though I haven't yet abandoned my shorts. Rain stopped briefly several times, then started again. Both today's camera and lens are weather-sealed and have been for years and years, but for the second time I tried my very inexpensive clear plastic sleeve called, I think, Rain Guard that actually helped, but it didn't the first time I tried it last year.

Great Leap - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Leap

Short flight from the water left of the end of the big log out there to the right end. This is the sharpest and most dramatic point along its way

Come, Go and GAther - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Come, Go and Gather

I couldn't tell who was in charge, but they all gathered east of the pier, swam out in what looked like organized lines toward the logs — when the gooses do similar formations, they're arriving for food or leaving for the evening's safety. I hoped the pelicans were off to do some power fishing, but no. When they all got out where the middle logs are, they all came back. No fishing or flying. I think they're tired from flying in on the Blue Norther that's changed our weather so drastically.

One Preening; One Peeking - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One Peeking; One Preening

Preen, rest, preen some more, It's what pelicans do. Even when there's very nearly 200 of them. I counted from the left once and from the right another time. Both times I got very near 200 but there were so many, often packed so closely, it was difficult to count every one. That's a lot of pelicans. We're used to maybe as many as 70 once they've all settled who will stay and who will fly off somewhere else. For awhile, here at the edge of winter, Sunset Bay is Grand Central Station for American White Pelicans.

At Least Two Flappers at Once - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Flappers at ONce

Far away, darkish and wet.

Eleven Pelicans on a Fat Log - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eleven Pelicans on a Fat Log

Sometimes they perch over there, sometimes not. I'm trying to figure out when and why these things happen.

Sixty0five Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

65 Pelicans Out Toward Dreyfuss Point (in the background)

Couldn't get this many pelicans in one telephoto shot much closer than this, where they are closer to Dreyfuss than to Sunset Bay shore.

And a whole lot more - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

40 More

Closer.

Part of an Ocean of Wet Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Part of an Ocean of Wet Pelicans

Not exactly as far as the eye can see. But with a telephoto's help, I counted and counted just at 200 today. They didn't look cold. Several were bathing — slapping lots of water up with their big wings, dunking and letting the water roll off their backs.

A Gregarious Bunch - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Gregarious Bunch

They seem to like being close. There's lots of space around the hordes, but the pelicans get in close and stay close in there.

 

October 25

 Unruly Pelican Bath Flap - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Unruly Pelican Bath Flap

I'm still fascinated by their wing flaps, whether they're flying or just flapping.

Up Flap and Tilt Back Yap - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Up Flap and Beak Stretch Yap

I was paying my attention to the bird flapping on the left, so I never even saw the pelican on the right till I got home and put the image on the monitor.

Wide Standing Flap with Tilt-back Yap -- Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wide, Standing Flap with Tilt Back Yap

Hardly ever happens I got two separate progressions going in the same photo series. Both birds stretching something important. Wings to fly with and big pouches to catch fish in.

ARchanger Flap with Bucket Yap - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Archangel Flap with Bucket Yap

I've mentioned loving to photograph American White Pelicans flapping their wings, but another favorite pelk action to capture is them stretching their beaks, upper and lower, to keep them flexible enough to hold enough fish when they go fishing in great long lines in unison, what I call Esther William Style, after the famous synchronized swimming star of the 1940s and 50s "Aquamusical" movies.

Spread-eagle Flap with Full Up Tilt Yap - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Spread-eagle Flap with Full Tilt-back Yap

The pelican on the left is about to stop flapping. The pelican on the right is about to stop stretching its beak. Both probably got what they needed in the same time, doing quite different activities. So synchronous is time but not in form.

Five Pelicans Seriously Compressed - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Five Pelicans Seriously Compressed

I count ten feet, which probably means five pelicans on a short log.

Same Pelicans Suddenly Decompressed - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans Suddenly Decompressed

Five beaks, one set of wings flapping, and some more pelicans in the background beaking each other.

Another Compression / Decompression Stance - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Compression / Decompression Stance

They are not all the same size at this stage in their developments, but I love the comparison of small and big, docile and exploding with energy, straight-out wings and all curly.

More Pelican Decompression - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Pelican Decompression

Then we realize the curly one was really two, two, two beaks in one.

Pelican Off-log Flap - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Offlog Flap

More flapping almost always accompanies getting off logs. They don't have hands, and their feet are busy, so they usually flap up and down to and from perches,which action is often accompanied by beaking, because higher and dryer real estate is always at a premium. It's probably their number one reason for conflict, although I've never seen them bleed because of those skirmishes over place.

And Flap Away - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And Flap Away

Then comes the flapping.

 

Tuesday October 23

 Pelicans Preening - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans Preening

Seemed a quiet day in the life of the pelicans who visit us at White Rock Lake every September through mid-April. They're always gone by Tax Day. I had my 300mm lens undoubled, so I got better close-ups — whole birds sometimes.

Blind Flap - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blind Flap

Whenever I see those big wings flapping, I attempt to photograph their full lengths. A task made more difficult when my lens is longer than the distance to them. Cropping is inevitable. I suspect this one's got one of its eyelids down to protect from splashing water.

Nine Pelicans Over - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Nine Pelicans Over

I thought I was leaving after a less-than exciting few moments of pelican-watching when, on the loop around the back of the building and upper parking lot, I noticed something flying over. More pelicans. A lot more pelicans.

Four Pelicans Over - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Detail with Four Pelicans

The photographer I'd talked with yesterday told me he was really hoping to see them do one of their massive flyovers. I'd seen them many times before, but I was also hoping to see another, and here one was.

Beginning to Get Crowded - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Beginning to Get Crowded

My Nikon D7000 did well at focusing them when they were closer to the ground, but as they flew higher...

Sky Crowded with Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sky Crowded with Pelicans

... and started going in great, huge, gyres upward, its focus began to fail. I couldn't tell when I was shooting, but next time I'll bring my elderly but Nikon refurbished D300, which handles things focus much, much better. Of course, then I probably won't get a massive pelican flyover.

Higher - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Higher

I thought I remembered them flying in closer circles as they went higher and higher, but then they disappeared, I thought off toward the East, and though I searched and searched patches of sky through the trees in Sunset Bay, I did not find them again.

Who's Left East of the Pier - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Who's Left East of the Pier

When they disappeared, I drove the loop one more time, still not finding them, so I drove around to Dreyfuss Point to see what I could see. What I could see is who was still there after all those flying-over pelicans had left the area. Probably our usual contingent. I count 51 in this shot.

Who's Left West of the Pier - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Who's Left West of the Pier

And 27 here. That's 78, a few more than our usual autumn - winter - spring contingent. So the flyovers today may have been the pelicans who visited yesterday. Or stopped here along their way further south. The farthest south I've ever seen pelicans in the U.S. was about 70 of them flying over the Rio Grande River in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, as they flew to Mexico, and maybe beyond.

 

October 22

 This Kind of Evening - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

It was this kind of evening

Big, bulky white and gray and black clouds on the horizon, way too close to photograph with a 900mm lens, so I just got this little sliver of it as the sun was setting and before it disappeared behind the clouds on the bottom. Not cool, but there was a breeze.

Pelican Flapping Near - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Flapping Near

More importantly, there were 162 American White Pelicans in the bay. I thought that was the most that have been seen this season, but another photographer told me he'd seen about 200 two days before, but he said he only counted to one hundred.  All these big white birds, and me with a super telephoto and no wide angle to capture them all in one big sweep. So I picked individual targets and shot and shot and shot, till it was really too dark to shoot anymore, and by then there were only a few pelicans in the bay.

Flapper Farther - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flapper Farther Out

When they began gathering up and hopping to flying speed and speeding away, I captured what I could with what I had, and did remarkably well, considering. A wide angle lens would have netted dozens of pelicans at a time, taking into flight at all angles in front of the pier. A marvelous sight.

Big Beaked Pelk Passing By - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big-beaked Pelican Passing by Fast and Close

Usually, my long lens serves me well, but there are times when 900mm is just too close. My telephoto is not a zoom, and except that zooms are rarely as sharp as this lens truly is, it might be nicer, but I'll limp through with what I got. I did promise myself that next time, I'd take the doubler off, so I'd only have to deal with a 450mm equivalent.

Middle Distance Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Middle Distance Pelican Flying Toward the West

Still, not terrible.

Sudden Departure - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Suddenly Departing Pelicans Flying Over Ones that Have Been There Awhile

And as they flew and flew out west of the bay, the tele proved more and more valuable.

Almost Evenly Spaced Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Almost Evenly-spaced Pelicans Heading Out Over the Lake

I can't say they gradually disappeared off the far edge of the lake.

Less evenly spaced and more coming - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Seeming Less Evenly Spaced — and More Coming

But after awhile, it was so dark, I didn't want to watch anymore.

Far Pelks Thining and Near Pelks Thickening - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Far Pelicans Thinning and Near Pelicans Thickening Up

I went out again on Tuesday afternoon, and there were fewer than 162 in the water and on that big log west of the pier, but on my second rounding of the loop road over Sunset Bay I happened to look up into hundreds more swirling and condensing and expanding their flight over the bay, then disappear. Then reappear, and then poof, gone again. Pix of that tomorrow.

 

The Fort Worth Drying Beds in Arlington

October 21

 Yet Another Bird with Long Yellow Legs - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lesser Yellow Legs, Landing

Another great autumn adventure around and through the Drying Beds, which were truly drying, but where there was lots of water, there were lots of birds. Typing this, I've just come back from photographing 162 American White Pelicans at Sunset Bay, which work will be in tomorrow's Bird Journal, but first here are my best images from Anna's and my Sunday morning visit to Arlington's Legacy Park.

Remarkably Handsome Bird - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Remarkably Handsome Bird

Perhaps by now you've notice I'm not identifying birds yet. That is because — as you probably well know — I'm not very good at identifying birds. But I'm getting pretty decent at photographing them, and sometimes even getting them in focus. Anna thinks it might be a juvenile Lark Sparrow, and she's usually closer to the right I.D than I am.

Two More Birds with Yellow Legs - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two More Birds with Yellow Legs

I shot 578 images Sunday at The Beds, and there are probably more shots worth printing up on this page, and I probably will. When I shot this image, I thought I might be photographing a Greater Yellowlegs with a Lesser Yellowlegs, but these may well be an adult and juvenile of one or the other Yellowlegs variety instead.  I've strained my eyes in several bird I.D books, and I still don't know.

Wilson's Snipe - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wilson's Snipe

Instead of proceding chronologically, which you don't really care about, because it was Anna's and my chron and it wasn't all that logical anyway, today we're starting with my best shots and / or most interesting birds.

Scraggly-looking American Avocet and an Acquaintance - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Scraggly-looking American Avocet with Two Long-billed Acquaintances

Almost every time I've looked at this image, I assumed that first, dunking, brown bird behind the Avocet, was a rock. Are you beginning to understand how bad a bird-identifier I have become?

American Kestrel - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

American Kestrel

Either this shot is fuzzy, or I am.

First Black Vulture - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

First Black Vulture

We cheered while driving down the road from I-30 to the drying beds, when we saw these hulking beats atop a series of tall street lamps. We should have backed up, and photographed them all together on the tops of matching lamps, but ever so eager to employ our longest telephoto lenses, we instead shot our Black Vulture friends as if we were shooting their close-ups.

The Other Black Vulture - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Other Black Vulture

This one was a whole other street lamp's length down the street, so this is a medium shot, not so close up. We love the Black Vultures who hang out around the dry beds, and it's always a joy to see them again..

 

Trinity River Audubon Center Owl-O-Ween

October 18

 Great Horned Owl Stare - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Horned Owl Stare

We went to Owl-O-Ween at the Trinity River Audubon Center, where they had actual owls from the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center, and after the presentation we went on another Owl Prowl. On our first Owl Prowl at Arbor Hills Preserve on Parker Road in Plano we actually saw and photographed two owls. At tonight's we heard more than that — maybe a half dozen — on a much shorter, half-hour walk. It was fun, but both prowl leaders extensively used played back recordings of owl calls after telling us never to.

I took my camera thinking I might just get a shot of an owl in its natural habitat, but what we were looking — er... listening — for was their calls echoing around the woods and fields of the center. It was a really lovely and informative walk.

A Less Intense Stare - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A Somewhat Less Intense Great Horned Owl Stare

I had the devil of a time figuring out what camera and what lens to take tonight, and most of my early shots were awful. Eventually, and even though I usually just do not, I started using the flash built into my Panasonic G2, which is usually less-than for shooting birds. But those birds are usually flying, and most of these cannot, usually because of injuries …

Custom Bird Boxes - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Custom Bird Boxes

Or because they too early imprinted upon humans, who when they first became aware, were the ones providing their food and shelter. We call that "mom and dad." But birds raised by humans don't really ever figure out that they are not human, too. Which is the reason they are kept in large, spacious cages at home or sound-proofed luxury boxes when they're on tour, teaching humans and their young about nature. One of whose lessons was that trying to raise baby birds is illegal and harmful to the birds. If you find live little birds on the ground, leave them alone. They're probably learning seomething important, and you're just getting in the way.

Screech Owl Flapping - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Screech Owl Flapping

And despite that the fact that because they were here teaching us about them, instead of flapping about on their own, we're really glad they are employed doing that. The only other time Anna and I have been this close to such beautiful and interesting birds is when we found a couple of them dead by the side of a South Texas highway, where they'd been killed by people driving automobiles. We'd much rather see them after they've been repaired or imprinted than that.

Barred Owl - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Four Eyes - Blackland Prairie Volunteer and Barred Owl

Besides, the evening with owls was a fascinating educational opportunity I only wish I'd recorded in sound as well as in pictures. But I'm really glad I got some decent photographs. And I apologize for the red-eye from photographing this bird with direct flash.

Almost All of a Barred Owl Flapping - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Almost All of a Barred Owl Flapping

When they're attached to a thick, heavy-duty human glove on a human hand, they tend to flop and flap around wildly. Earlier I got lots of blurry pictures of those activities. Here I almost got all of the bird and most of its wings in full flap, but it was moving too fast.  Someone asked what its name was, and the guy (I'm terrible with names, and I probably shouldn't keep saying it, because it only enforces that I'm terrible with names) who's the director at Blackland Prairie Raptor Center answered that, while it's common for humans to give names to birds and animals, the birds don't know they even need names, and they never respond or recognize them.

Feathers This Deep - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Feathers This Deep into its Head — The Volunteer pushes  very
gently till her finger goes in nearly to the second knuckle

One more Barred Owl pic refers to info under the next pic, but I didn't want to suddenly switch birds, so it's up here in the Barred Owl portion instead.

Barn Owl - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Portrait of a Barn Owl

A child asked why this owl's "face looks like a heart?" The demonstrator answered that it is curved to catch sound. He also told us that owls are mostly feathers, every feather had its own muscle, so it could move any one, any time, and that the biggest thing on an owl is its eyes, which are tube-shaped rather than spheres, like humans'.

Flapping Wings from the Back - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barn Owl Wings in Half Flap

By this time, the Barn Owl was squirming into and way out of my frame, so I just clicked and clicked and hoped something would come of it.

Red Morph Eastern Screech Owl - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red Morph Adult Eastern Screech Owl

Sorry again for the partial red-eye, but I don't really know how to fix it on owls. Beautiful little bird weighs only a few ounces, but that thick glove has its purpose nonetheless.

Gray Morph Eastern Screech Owl - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Gray Morph Adult Eastern Screech Owl with Blackland Prairie Raptor Center Volunteer

Many people look at owls like this and wonder what it'll be when it grows up, but it's already grown up as big as it will ever be.
 

White Rock Lake

October 17
Pelican Flight After Dark - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Flight Toward Dreyfus

I've been feeling more than a little experimental lately, and I've been especially experimental with high ISO. I had planned to get there a little before dark but got involved in something and when I came to it was already dark. So I grabbed my camera, pulled off the doubler, and put the 300mm lens back on the cam, and put us all in The Slider and drove off to Sunset Bay. Where else would I go with a little bit of a new idea.

one-eighth of a second - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

My First Shot — at 1/8 of a second; my hands getting used to the Blunderbuss again

Okay, that shot is one of my favorites, but lets back off a little and see what happened to get that flight going. I arrive, I flip my camera up into stranglehold position and find some pelicans doing something worth going click. In the car when I got there I looked out and saw dark, so I set the ISO to the highest number and the shutter speed down to something I knew the camera would just ignore 'cause it was already too dark out there.

1/25th a second - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

1/25 second exposure, but holding the camera a little more steadily

They were gathered in three, maybe four clumps. I think I counted 46 in all. Two big crowds and two smaller one. Four in one, seven in another, about half of what's left in the other two. Preening. Pelicans preen when they've got nothing more important to do. They preened.

Swimming Out - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Swimming Out

Then in ones and threes and fives and nines, they swam out toward the far logs. Not exactly like zombies, but they were on a mission..

Flapping Is - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Arriving and Flying Farther Out

When they got out far enough, they started flying a lot father out. These pelicans were flying west for something.

Flying Way Out There - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flying Way Out There

They flew father and farther till they were dots even farther than that.

Initiating Takeoff- Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Then a New Bunch Arrived and Started Hopping Across the Water to Take Off

Hop - splash, hop - splash, hop - splash.

Achieve Air - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Achieve Airspeed and Altitude

Leaving a vertical trail of upraised water.

Till There's a Bunch of Them Airborne and Flapping - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Till There's a Bunch of Them Up and Flying Off Somewhere

Somewhere yet to be defined, but they's where the Drefus Building used to be — up on the hill just to the right of that road on the far side there.

Flight After Dark - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flight AFter Dark

It looks bright enough for day, but it was dark. Dark enough most people look out there and don't see nothin'. Sun downed awhile ago. The sky glows in this shot. That's part of the experiment. I'm shooting at the highest ISO this camera will shoot. Well there's "Hi" after this number, which is double this number, but I was experimenting, no going for broke. I wanted images bad enough to suffer through the image noise, which you don't see here, because I've been experimenting on my experimentation.

Veering Off Toward Dreyfus - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Veering Off

It's dark like it looks dark on the far side of the lake as the birds veer off to the right.

Pulling Up to Drop Down - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pulling Up to Drop Down

I assume they saw or thought they saw fish over there, or they found fish over there last time they tried this, or something.

Touch Down - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Touch Down

By the time I quit photographing them from this side, and arrived on Dreyfus, I didn't see one of them. By then, it was even darker, and even The Slider's brightest brights couldn't see them.

And More Pelicans Swimming Out to Fly Away - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

More Pelicans Gathering

Meanwhile, more pelicans gathering near the pier in Sunset Bay.

And More Coming - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And More Coming

A guy and a woman were on the pier with me for awhile, and I wondered whether they thought I must be crazy snapping my big camera and fat lens at birds across the world, but what she said was, "That's one amazing camera you got there." It is, and I said it was. And I'm glad pelicans are white.
 

Texas State Fair

October 11

Dallas Flamingo - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Dallas Flamingo

Found these colorful metal birds alongside the entranceway into Fair Park from Second Avenue. They're right out front of the Butterfly Building, but I don't know who created them, and I did not see any identifying signs.

Pink, Yellow, Red, Green & Blue Rooster - crpy

Pink, Yellow, Red, Green and Blue Rooster

The space visible beyond the yard behind this colorful rooster is The Band Shell where in better weather during the fair and next May, I think, is the World of Birds, a daily extravaganza involving world birds trained to fly out into the audience to pick up money and perform silly skits.

Chartreuse Parrot - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Chartreuse Parrot

Rainbow Parrot - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Rainbow Parrot

Technicolor Swan - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Technicolor Peacock

Rainbow Fair Bird - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Rainbow Fair Bird

Who might also be a parrot.

Red, Yellow, Blue & White Rooster - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Red, Yellow, Blue and White  Rooster

 

White Rock Lake

October 9

 Cormorant Jump - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorant Jump

Almost never do I give cormorants the time of day. It seems like it's been years since I featured a stinkybird in anything resembling a heroic pose. Like this.

Cormorants on the Log - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cormorants on a Log

The Double-crested Cormorant flying toward the pole at the end of the log full of cormorants is the same cormorant featured above. If this one were as sharply in focus as that one, I might have enlarged it, instead. Pelicans are very gregarious and hang close as much as possible.

Jostling for Space - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Jostling for Space

Still, there are times, when they get a little combative while they're being close. The pelican with the big beak crosswise in this photo has just jumped up onto the log these guys are on. The one looking at us askance didn't want it there, and they have just engaged in a little laser saber battle with their beaks. Guess who won. The one who won stayed.

Pelicans on a Half Log - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelicans on a Half Log

One of my favorite poses for American White Pelicans. I don't know Brown Pelicans enough to know if they do this, too. How could they not?

Sleeping Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sleeping Pelican on a Log

I was standing there trying to zoom my non-zoom lens back to include more than one bird, when I pondered the eternal question whether all pelicans look alike when they curl up and sleep with their beaks buried in the wing feathers even though it's not very cold outside. So I photographed several pelicans on a log.

Another Sleeping Pelican on the same Log - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Sleeping Pelican on the Same Log

And discovered that no, they do not.

 

October 8

 Big Pelican Flap - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big Pelican Flap

42 American White Pelicans just a few feet off the barricaded Sunset Bay pier. 42. I think a few more to come. Soon. Then we won't see them all together that often for awhile. Then they'll begin to fly in and fly out and fly, fly, fly.

Pelican Parts - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pelican Parts

So whaddyya do when ya gotta long telephoto and birds not that far away?

Chin Scratch - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Chin Scratch

Almost a fist with which to scratch one's elongated chin.

Overflying Grackle - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Over-flying Grackle

I never do this. I don't think it's possible. A grackle or several flying over me? Watch. Couldn't possibly capture any shot worth capturing. Right?

Grackle Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grackle Flyover

Well, maybe not completely impossible. Just mostly unlikely.

Male Mallard - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Mallard

Failing colors and density.

Dark Killdeer - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dark Killdeer

Can't wait to see the babies, small and fluffy, darting all over the place.

Who Dat? - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Who Dat?

Mysterious black creature splashing globs of dense white water into the air.

Bird Bath Flurry - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bird Bath Flurry

Maybe show a few feathers.

Post Bath Moment - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Post Bath Moment

Oh, it's a Great-tailed Grackle.

Drying Off - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Drying Off

I know, we've seen these before, but this was the first time in about a week I've gone out of my way to photograph birds at my favorite place to do that. Felt nice.

 

Fair Park

October 7

 Albino Red-tailed Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Albino Red-tailed Hawk Flying in from the Texas Star Ferris Wheel at State Fair of Texas

I've been spending my daily photo time documenting the State Fair of Texas instead of local birds lately. And while I may not keep up the every-day schedule, I think I'm on vacation from this journal for awhile.

Barkers with Bird - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

World of Birds Barkers with that Albino Hawk

I've been attending the World of Birds show at the Fair for at least six years, and as fascinated by the birds as I still and probably always will be, the show leaves much to be desired. I always hope for new birds I haven't seen before. But it must take a long time to train birds, so we don't see much in the way of new. Still magnificent-looking, but nothing new.

Thrasher of Rubber Lizard - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Thrasher of Rubber Alligator

The same little, foreign Thrasher of Rubber Alligator toys thrashed the lizard-stand-in thoroughly upon command, supposedly teaching us that some birds are fiercer than others.

African Crowned Crane - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

African Crowned Crane

Pretty bird, and smart, too.

Escape - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Escape

Its best trick was a feigned escape. If it were actually escaping, it probably wouldn't be able to find anything here that it'd know was worth eating. Besides, it's been being fed by humans for a long time, and one of us human-types might take advantage of it, if it were to actually escape. At least we probably wouldn't make it go out into the crowd and fetch twenty-dollar bills.

 

xAnother Escape - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Another Escape Attempt

It rained, or I might have continued photographing these poor birds, fated to forever do the same silly tricks before huge audiences who've probably only ever seen grackles in the reality of wild.
 

October 4

 Snowy Pirouetting inthe Corner - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Pirouetting in the Upper Corner

Watching Snowy Egrets dance is one of the more fun things to do at the lake while I'm hoping for interesting photographers.

Drippy Tippy-toe Landing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Drippy Tippy-toe Landing with Wings Curved Up

Then I wondered if all my shots were really Snowies.

Snowy Egret wings up and out - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret with Wings Up and Out Short

Adult Snowies have black beaks and yellow feet.

Snowy Danicing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Wings-up Cupped Stalking with One Dripping Foot

Great Egrets have yellow beaks and black feet.

Snowy Egret Wings Out - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Dancing with Wings Full Out Out Out

Juvenile Snowies, to quote David Sibley in his Sibley Guide to Birds, "usually shows some black on forelegs." Like this.

Snowy Pounce - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Pounce

Although the dancing was pretty fast, I do remember two separate episodes, so I guess they could have been two Snowies, but I didn't think so.

Snowy Wings Out, Feet Dripping - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Wings Spread, Feet Streaming, Running or Taking Off

Most of this action was over in a few seconds. I waited a minute or so while I photographed a much slower bird, then I came back to this/these one/ones.

Snowy Egret Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dancing Great Egret with Splashy Pointed Feet

The images here are arranged so they look like they were / it was really active, which they really were / it was..

Snowy Egret Tip-toe Rushing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Tippy-toe Rushing

Wish I knew more dance terms. This bird was so elegant, and so fast.

Sugar Plum Tippy Toe to the Right - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Tippy-toeing Off to the Right

Oh, and while it was bouncing off the walls in this ornate dance, it also caught several smallish fish. I captured the bird, but I didn't capture the fish or the bird capturing the fish. Too much of a dance fan, I guess.
 

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All text and photographs copyright 2012 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
specific written permission from and payment to
the writer or photographer.

My favorite answer is, "I don't know." I am, after all, an amateur.
I'm not kidding. I've only been birding for three years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.

Thanks always to Anna.

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