My Galveston & San Antonio Bird photo taken mid-October 2015
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144 photographs this month — not counting the 178 pix on the Galveston - San Antonio page.
Wetter than usual
photographed & posted October 31 2015
I was being intrigued by all the land that suddenly was underwater this morning. These American White Pelicans are fishing in an area that is on the land, houses, road and people side of the Spice Garden around the pier at Sunset Bay, which I couldn't get to, because there was all this water there. Didn't phase the pelicans, however, they were catching fish.
The pond isn't tri-colored, it's just where we've often seen Tricolored Herons fish. That's the lake on the other side of the weeds. Took The City about a decade from the time I heard a speaker, maybe at a Audubon or FtLotL meeting talking about what a good idea it was to let the plants that grow along the edge of a lake or pond just keep growing there, because their roots would help hold the dirt in place, so each time it floods (like just now) all the dirt doesn't dissolve into all the water.
With the dam, the Old Pump House and the Filter Building on the other side of the lake. Saw the inflatable, the dam and the buildings but not the two sets of rowers when I shot this.
Where they're probably reaching for fish.
Those pelican pouches we keep discussing the flexibility of, hanging loose just in case.
Back to the bay.
Behind are fisher persons fishing the creek that runs between Sunset Bay on north side and Stone Tables on the south.
This was shot from the parking lot either directly by the old stone rest rooms that are permanently locked and inaccessible — where the ambulances park during weekdays or the next lot down toward the lake portion of Sunset Bay — out toward Buckner Boulevard.
In a tallish tree overlooking one of the new ponds.
Camera was still attached to lens without the telextender, because it was getting dark fast as I drove to Sunset Bay again this evening. I wasn't sure exactly why — turned out it was pleasant conversation, which is always high on my lists, but I didn't know that till I got there. The sunset would probably have been enough. And two pleasant conversations.
Don't know how many pelicans might have been there earlier. None were that morning when I shot these [just below]. But many ducks and coots and gooses had gathered in the water off what I call Sunset Beach, just northeast of the Spice Garden of trees and jungle-like plants around the Pier at Sunset Bay. It seemed odd bird out, but content to be there preening.
Hard to tell whether there were more American Coots or Mallards and other ducks there, together they far outnumbered the gooses.
It's kinda unnatural to feed wild birds the same time and the same place several times every day, but I think it has a lot to do with why so many bird species gather there, and I like the people who gather and the guy who feeds them at least twice — sometimes twice that — a day. Not complaining, just explaining. It started by Charles feeding the gooses he and others had released there. Then why not feed anybody who gathered.
Not sure what all the above has to do with pelicans, who don't eat corn. They prefer fish, and need lots of fish every day. And you've seen how they fish [below], all synchronized and amazing. One of the ways they get up air speed is to hop two-footed across the water, although they sometimes just start flying from wherever they are standing. Hopping into flight may be the more usual, but it's nice they can instantly escape if need be.
I photographed another few hops, then watched it fly up and out past Dreyfuss Point. I don't know where they spend the night (Hey! I've only been watching then for nine-plus years). I know a lot about them, but not that. Through the evening, I'd seen many other pelicans fly out and up north past Dreyfuss.
I was busy admiring the sunset reflected when I realized I should try to photograph it. It really was about this dark.
And a stump on the other side. Leg about down to where the foot once was. Then nothing. I watched her hop out of the water, then writhe across into this position, then I lost sight of her for awhile. She had the strength and determination to do that, as did at least one other Mallard, a male. I watched her eat plenty of corn. Then I'd be off photographing something else, then couldn't find her. Once I saw her fly into one of the sudden and fluttering escape clouds of ducks and coots that happen three or four or more times a feeding.
Same sunset, just a little less orange and fire.
Flashing eyes means I used on-camera flash, after manually focusing in dark so dark the camera would not auto-focus. ISO 2,000 hand-held with 1/6-second exposure at f2.8. We saw a lot of raccoons that night, several of whom were happy enough to come within about 20 feet [My distance guesses are notoriously off.] of us as Charles threw wheat bread to them, even if Roy was lying in the dirt just to our left. Roy seemed to want to go play with them, but he was much better behaved than when other dogs had walked by on the road behind us.
When I finally got to the pier at Sunset Bay today, I just walked out without camera. I hadn't seen any pelicans in my drive-by search. I didn't think I'd find any walking out to the pier, either, but if that were the case, I didn't want to have to lug camera, lens or tripod.
So I walked out there and discovered two women taking photographs and a perfect cloud of American White Pelicans hardly twenty feet off the right edge of the pier. I also discovered I didn't have a battery in my camera. So I walked back to The Slider, drove home, got the battery, drove back … And they were still there. Though the other photographers were gone.
So I went back, got the tripod, because I was not successfully hand-holding the camera still. At all. High-stress Vitamin B sometimes helps me with that … But I took the tripod, and it really really helped. If nothing else, a tripod holds my place in the view. I don't have to expend energy holding it in the same place. Eventually, I just panned back and forth over the 25 or so pelicans there. I even gave up looking with bare (glasses) eyes and only looked through the lens.
So I was able to follow, step-by-step, each progression of moves from the pelicans who were right there.
I also talked with Frank, who told me about a lot of birds semi-hidden inside the City of Dallas, and I'll investigate that soon, because it involves one of my favorite Dallas parks that I haven't been able to get to in awhile. But these guys were so close, I could get amazing detail with my 300mm lens — and I didn't need the teleXtender. More depth of field, and about 15% better sharpness.
I have, over the last nine years of this journal, photographed this particular sequence many, many times. Just nice, for a change to be this incredibly close when I did it. I should note that the series, down to here, is often not continued through the following, last step. But it seems to give them that little extra stretch they might need. And the order shown above does not always occur, it's just the most common order of steps.
If I had a printer, I could probably print any of these shots 30 x 40 inches or larger, there's so much detail and sharpness in these shots. Exposure's close to perfect, too. That doesn't happen a lot of the time.
But showing them to as many people who attend this journal would be difficult, if not impossible. I'm still not sure which bird's wing that is.
So, overall, the Internet is the best way of showing my work.
If you enjoy looking half as much as I love shooting, making and showing, we're both ahead of the game.
Standing on my favorite pier after photographing 15 pelicans up close off Sunset Beach, I was lucky enough to see these birds out fishing.
There's a certain order birds do things in sometimes. Hungry pelicans gather in synchronized swimming groups, kinda like this.
They find a school of fish, then chase it toward shallower water, dip their heads in.
Root around down there, and if there's fish, fill their flexible lower mandibles with them and start pulling their heads up.
With fish if they catch them. Without if not. The routine must go on till they're tired of it.
Tilt back and swallow. Sure nice of them to do it close — although 'close' is a relative term with about a 500mm lens. I remember telling Erin that they were really close, neatly forgetting that. This happened a little later, when some had actually filled their mandibles with fish.
Juvenile American White Pelicans have brown spots. Erin says she can tell males from females, but I can't yet. She also says she can identify individuals, but I can't do that, either. I used to think I watched them more than anybody else did, but I think Erin's there more than I am.
Big change using a telephoto after using a wide angle [below] lens for pretty much the same scene. I love love love watching pelicans — Brown or American White — fly.
I saw all the egrets as I drove down the hill more or less parallel with the spillways, I look out over just before the dam comes up, then I look up the hill from walking up that hill (which I need, anyway), and though I saw the egrets easy enough, till they gathered in a nice five-note arrangement, I kept hoping for Little Blue Herons, some night-herons, maybe a Snowy or three, and a Great Blue Heron. But maybe those will come now there's finally water to suck fishes down the spillway.
I just couldn't stop photographing birds after those pelicans.
& The Rain at White Rock Lake
Meanwhile back at Sunset BayPhotographed October 25 2015
I met Tom at Sunset Bay, and while we were talking I spotted bright white shapes through the trees above flying silent against the gray sky. Got my attention. I knew who they were and what they were down to, and we continued our conversation as we rushed out onto the pier and they slowly circled back.
I had with me my blue-taped-together Panasonic Lumix G5 that doesn't work without the tape. I use it for family and art photographs (and it would cost less than $400 now), but I just fired away. I thought it was a nice change to photograph pelicans with the wide angle zoom. And the Pany did just fine. I tried to wait till they were nearest, so there was some possibility of filling the frame to maximize resolution.
And I clicked away at them about 35 times to glean these eight best shots.
And eight out of thirty-five ain't half bad. (Side note: Although the main body of Sunset Island [middle right] seems to actually float, the logs at the right end (and probably those behind it, where we can't see) had sunk. Apparently okay for the cormorants but less than ideal for pelicans.
Not bad considering I had the ISO set at only 400 and had not bothered to change it to better capture hurtling bodies or get more depth of field …
… which seems to have been covered by complete accident. I keep forgetting its depth of field is twice my full frame camera. ƒ4 = f8 and like that.
Always nice when we can clude-in some bits of skyline — at far lower left; some other species in the composition — far lower right; and some vague notion of clouds.
Right about where I photograph The Great Egret Dance and Fly-athon almost every New Years, give or take a month or so. There's a short pond on the right behind short bushes, then under the old railroad where now is walking path over West Lawther, and houses to the left across this street in this view. Usually a great green lawn where all that water is, with a five- or six-foot deep creek from the middle of this view to the far right middle. Street barely visible at extreme right top is Williamson Road up towards Mockingbird..
Warning: This short journal entry was not designed as a geographical map. It's mostly an attempt to show you some of the rain that's been falling at the lake lately. I tried to put it in geographical order, but …
Water levels a couple feet up, at least. I already have too much company there to map it out for you, but that big red plastic basket was bobbing like a big catfish on a hook, line and sinker.
Not its real name, but I, sitting in The Slide , at the bottom of the hill on Winfrey Point Drive, down from the Winfrey Building, before turning right up on Emerald Isle Drive.
To the left is the lake; middle left is the loop around what many years ago was the Sunset Inn; up the hill and to the right is Barbec's and the Garland Road clutter.
And we either park down the hill by the lake or go back to Garland Road up the hill. This was not shot in the rain, although it looks kinda like I might have. I just like all those day-glowing colors ganging up on the stop sign, and I had to take a pic of the street name, so I'd remember it. And it just kinda, sorta looks like it belongs here.
When it's raining hard I no longer drive up (or down) Garland Road to where Grand and Gaston Avenues come together, because right under and for a ways after (heading west the foot bridge that used to be railroad tracks), there's a low place in the street, where some cars stall out in deep water or get pushed around by those notorious storm surges that it doesn't look like The City will ever schedule for major drainage or rebuilding, so The Slider (which is small, low and light) even if I'm not particularly, and I drive up Winstead instead, which gets me up toward upper (up the hill toward Lakewood Shopping Center), then over flatter land to my neighborhood.
But I often slow down on the auto bridge (lower above) past the walking bridge (middle above) and from the far right lane, peek at the bird population or as here, the flood water surging. I was stopped, so I aimed, then kept clicking as I paid more attention to traffic, and later learned all my shots looked pretty much like this one. The smears are from water on the passenger-side window. And yes, photographing through windows and windshields always reduces resolution, though sometimes the effect helps tell the story. I kept turning The Slider around to try to get shots clear of the melting window effects, but all it got me and the weather-resistant cam/lens was very wet.
Where several people I've talked with lately park when they can't figure out they should drive east on Garland Road, south on Buckner to the first light, west on Poppy Drive past Doctor's Hospital at White Rock Lake, hard right at the apartment building at the end of Poppy, down the hill and left on East Lawther Drive. It's a one-way after the Do Not Enter diagonal parking strip behind what used to be the Sunset Inn. Around the curve toward the lake, park in the little head-in strip before the street goes left, up and around the line of porta-potties, then right again on East Lawther.
Mallard families flying into Sunset Bay.
I took these shots so long ago, I no longer know what I was going to tell you about them.
They pretty much look like the same birds I always photograph in Sunset Bay, part of why I needed a vacation to a more exotic clime.
The ducks are dark, so the Snowy looks like the detailed white bird it is. If I hadn't closed down the aperture, it'd look solid white.
It did not fall. It rarely does.
This is one of my favorite-ever Snowy Egret photographs.
Gravity has been nullified Just about everybody is suddenly floating up and away.
Graylag goose A preens, and so is B, but we don't have as good a view.
Graylag Goose B with head upside-down rubbing lanoline on all its feathers to keep it dry when there's water.
Not sure where that title came from. The blue ether.
Yet everything else is just the same.
Yes, after 50 years of photography, I still photograph sunsets.
Love the rich red and sparkling clouds, but this one is my favorite, because I wasn't expecting this beauty visible in that sky. Looks a little like an armadillo scuffling in the dust.
These journal entries lately are a lot about Snowy Egrets, and they will continue to be for at least another day. Then hiatus.
I almost always crop to the bird or near it — because it's much more interesting and exciting that way, but this is my full-frame (uncropped) view.
Main problem with shooting the sky with a telephoto lens is that it's not nearly far away enough. Just not sure what this is a cross-section of.
I came back to White Rock Lake around 5 for the second trip today. I just couldn't stay away. This time to play. Nice breeze on the pier. Not entirely cool, but on the way to. The sky was full of amazing clouds, and I was making lots of mistakes, which seems to help experimenting. I was just having fun..
Who poured sunset into the lake?
Ducks, ducks and more ducks — mostly Mallards.
Great-tailed Grackles are the star of this show, plus one duck and a couple turtles.
Colors are a little thick, but hey! It's a male Wood Duck, and he knows from color.
I'd just mentioned that Green Herons liked to pose on the sandbar island in front of the pier, and here was one doing just that for us.
Color and experience intensified.
Black on white and gray till the horizon's green and …
Bright light on black up closer.
Got more for tomorrow. And maybe tomorrow's tomorrow. Then we'll stop dead in our tracks for maybe ten days. Then back with a vengeance.
October 8 2015
Took me awhile to figure out what it was, even if it is the most common hawk in the United States of America. And it seemed way larger than I could imagine a bird being. But yeah, odds were it was, and it was, a Red-tailed Hawk. Out hunting from a tallish tree on a biggish hill called Winfrey Point.
My first hawk in way too long a time, but autumn and especially winter, always seems like Hawk Season — all the way down to the southernmost tip of Texas, where my parents used to live. But here, too.
Looking back over its shoulder — about a 180-degreet head turn.
Mocking bird flies past the Red-tailed Hawk, and the J R was a little slow on the uptake.
A bigger bird with a bigger appetite, that usually includes smaller birds.
In a branch in a tree just left of the tree the hawk was in. Both the [I thought it was a Mockingbird} and the Blue Jay had already taken turns at flying just past the hawk.
I didn't include this shot the first time I posted this journal entry, but the more I looked at it, the more interesting it became, till eventually — a full two weeks later, I couldn't not use it. There are a couple others that just look too similar that I'd kinda like to edit out now (October 22), but I don't think I will.
I was near the top of the hill by the parking lot behind The Winfrey Building shooting with a tripod, when a guy with a little dog came up, hardly even noticing me. I asked if he would refrain from walking down the path just then, because I was photographing a bird. He said he'd go in a hurry, explaining that he went "this same way" every day, indicating, I suppose, that he didn't know any other way, although there are several.
I was in the process of telling him that no matter how fast or slow he went, he and his pup would scare the bird away. He didn't care, because he went on down the path, and the hawk got up and flew away, but by then I was expecting him to fly away.
Rather elegantly, I thought.
Couldn't take any more pix, because the hawk was behind some trees, and my camera was on a tripod, but these were very nice, and I don't suppose that if the guy had been a little nicer, I would have got any more or much better. Heck, I might still have been standing there photographing that big hawk ….
Reason I was there, and not somewhere else, was that I was scoping out angles to photograph the pelicans on the far side of Sunset Island [as seen from the pier], which is what the following photograph is mostly about:
Made some shots of the pelicans behind Sunset Island from along Winfrey Point, then went back up Winfrey toward the parking lot, where I parked The Slider, and shot this, which separates the lines of pelicans a little better than shooting straight into them. The elevation helps.
I count 21 pelicans behind the island. I couldn't really see to count the others scattered around Sunset Bay, but I suspect that today there were more than the 23 Erin and I counted a couple days ago. And I suspect more and more will be coming in. I used the Last Year link at the top of this page, and more pelicans were still coming in at the end of October 2014.
From which we really cannot see what's going on behind Sunset Island, thus the need for another viewpoint, even if it's somewhat more distant than the pier from the pelicans. Nice thing about nature, is that they get to decide where they settle, since The City removed and/or destroyed all the other possibilities after this spring's storms rearranged all the other log possibilities, and once again The City's Habitat-destruction Machines trumps Nature.
As photographed from Lawther Drive past the old Sunset Inn Building up the hill behind these guys.
October 7 2015
It's a great choice. It's got shade, grass, wood chunks to perch on, and it's far from people, including those pesky, nosy photographers. Maybe not ideal for us pesky photographers — kinda far away, our vision of a lot of them is blocked by that tree that seems to be growing flowers or fruits. And it's pretty far out there. So, counting the ones on the far side of that tree becomes especially difficult.
That make it possible for it to not sink in mud, yet walk and run (called skittering) across the surface of water.
A little fish, but a lotta little fish = a coupla big fish. It's a living.
To make room for the fish's drop down.
While usually a gregarious, albeit occasionally unsociable bird, some American White Pelicans can be standoffish. This one usually parks itself off from the rest. I know that tendency.
I know this one, too. I suspect this bird has misjudged the distance to fall before parking itself on that branch. But it did it elegantly and landed safely.
Not often easy to get such different species to pose together, so we just have to wait till it occurs naturally.
Oh, and today, I actually photographed the pair (both birds) of Kingfishers flying west along this side of Sunset Bay. Never once got them in focus or stop-action, but clicked at them thrice and blurred them badly — and no, they weren't making any noise when they did that. Later, when I was watching my latest Studio Ghibli animation about spirits, When Marne Was There, I thought I should show these blurs, so these are they.
The third one didn't have anything recognizable as birds or blurs in it, and — alas! — I deleted it.
My earache has mostly gone away, thanks to Presbyterian Hospital ER's gentle care, some Rx antibiotic and anti-bacterial and plenty of rest, I'm back at birds these days, though I've got a project coming next week that'll stop them again for a week or so. Sometimes I just gotta pay the piper what brung me …
Pelicans, Katy, Killdeer, Cormorants
not-a-titmouse & Some Bricks
October 6 2015
Erin and I both, at different times, counted 23 pelicans in Sunset Bay upon my second visit there today. But they're not all together. There's groups and ones and twos, but no room — no big logs, except that one big one stuck up the creek up the lagoon, and they've not shown any appreciation of that one this time. In the past, they've even settled on the peninsula, just off the area where the pier is, but there they were open to predation, and they got predated, but they didn't leave. Probably too far to fly.
TEXT CHANGES: Like the many visiting shorebirds, the pelicans seem to like the shallow water here, for being in and on and near. Sunset Bay has provided many fish tor pelicans, and more importantly for this discussion, a home base, although it has not always been thus. I and many others — mostly humans — worry about that for them this year, after The City rid us of every pelican-able log that the spring floods took close-enough to shore for their Habitat Destruction machines to take away and destroy, but they are here and coming in in dribs and drabs every day.
Oh, and while visiting last October's Bird Journal via the Last Year link atop every Bird Journal page, I noted that the Bald Eagle visited us on October 4, so about now is a good time for it to show up again.
Probably one of the same five or six Killdeer who peep loudly in front of the Pier at Sunset Bay every day. Handsome little critter.
And I don't think it's as green as it may look here. I'm thinking some sort of Phoebe, but as regular readers know, I'm not much at identifying birds, though I can usually photograph them to a fair-the-well. Introduced to me as a Tufted Titmouse, which I've photographed before, and they're much smaller, this has lots of fly-catching feathers pointed out around its beak to make flies and flying insects much easier to catch. In the trees around the pier at Sunset Bay.
Actual Tufted Titmouses can be seen at the bottom of this page. What may be my best and most interesting Tufted Titmouse pix ever in February 2012 and a few others are scattered over the last ten years of birding in these pages.
I'm trying to remember where I was when I shot this, but I remember getting out of the car to do it. Shooting through windshields is often a mess. I'm assuming those are doves in the street. I often travel the back streets of Big and Little Forest Hills this year-long project of repaving Garland Road, during which time they completely paved easternmost Mockingbird (the street) and probably could have done it a couple more times, and Garland is still not done. Some say it never will be.
Left to right across the bay.
Katy does fly, and I have photographed her doing that, but not in a long time. I'd like to, but for now, her flapping is almost enough a thrill.
Erin and I were watching it dive and stay under inordinately long in inner Sunset Bay off Sunset Beach, then I was thrilled to watch it (but not photograph that part very well) dripping water from its dark feathers, head and tail. But I finally got a decent shot of this well-known pose.
More Like Preening. I counted sixteen cormorants in Sunset Bay today.
This may actually be an adult breeding Neotropic Cormorant/
I've dragged rocks and bricks on other islands and peninsulas and beaches, and though I didn't do this, I recognize it as human work. Probably Mallards or Wood Ducks didn't push those fairly dense, heavy objects around. Looks almost like art to me, and in my other web incarnation, I am an art critic with a few nods from people, especially artists and sometimes The Establishment, who count.
October 4 2015
There's more of them, but only by ones and twos. I think we counted 16 American White Pelicans today. The other American pelican is the Brown Pelicans, who are coastal. American Whites are inland. The Whites are also white and the Browns are brown, but that's almost obvious.
And maybe not. In this pic, its legs and feet look gray, but in another pic, they look black, which is the right color for a Great Egret. But so much else is wrong.
TEXT CHANGES: Here, the colors are right, but its face and beak length just look wrong. So I was pretty sure it was not a Great Egret, although that's who I assumed it were when I shot these. Heck, I'm often not sure who what bird might be. Might be young. Might be a whole 'nother species. Like a pre-blue Little Blue Heron or some sort of Snowy Egret — except its feet aren't orange, and its beak is not black. Or something entirely else.
Ken on Bird Chat says it's just a Great Egret, "No problems with any of the details. He's just foreshortened and flattened a bit by the "telephoto effect." Fore-shortening means a visual effect of perspective or the angle of vision. Except both shots are straight-on profiles, no acute angles, which are usually required for fore-shortening. But I accept Ken's explanation.
I'm on heavy pain pills, so I can either not think straight or hurt like hell — sometimes both — because of an acute earache. Anna's taking me to a non-VA ER tomorrow (Hallelujah! They took me immediately, not 4 to 6 hours of uncomfortable chair-sitting later, although I did have to pay for it with a $65 co-pay, and the anti-infection drops were a very expensive, $250, which was a surprise. But they work.
This bird still doesn't look right to me (now temporarily painless), but there's nothing else it could be, and as for the telephoto effect, humans generally see with the angle-of-view afforded by an approximately 50mm angle of view lens for a full-frame 35mm frame, which my camera (but not all cameras) has as its "normal," except that my usual birding lens has ten-point-two times that (510mm), so the telephoto effect is especially noticeable, if one is paying close attention, and I usually am to my photographs I post here, although they may not always look like it.
Thank you, Ken.
Ducks fly in and out of Sunset Bay all the time, especially early morning and late evening. When they catch my attention — i.e., I'm not photographing something else — I photograph them, because I need the practice, as shown here. Kinda fuzzy, J R.
I need close-up pix to name the turtles, but the birds are, middle-to-right cormorants, Great Egret, another Double-crested Cormorant (probably) and I'm really not sure who. I also don't remember all the names of the humans who shared the pier with me today, but I sure enjoyed the conversation. I talked, of course, but I learned, too. Gives me a reason to go to the lake on Saturdays. A great reason. Of course I'm addicted to WRL (White Rock Lake) …
I finally decided that most of the sandpipers who briefly occupied that tiny little island in front of the Pier at Sunset Bay the last day of September were Least Sandpipers. But not all of them were. I still don't know who the ones who were not Least Sandpipers were, but I may yet learn them.
I thought they looked strange, stopped, checked traffic, backed up the hill, stopped about here, and shot this. Not all that interesting, really.
October 3 2015
Kingfishers are elusive. We've been photographing this one — and sometimes her mate — for a couple weeks. We just assume she'll be around whether we hear her "laughing" or not. Tommy, whom I met again this morning calls the high-pitched staccato sound they emit "laughing." David Allen Sibley calls it "a long, uneven rattle most similar to Hairy Woodpecker rattle but harsher, unsteady, clattering. Also a higher, shorter, more musical, rapid trill tirrrr."
Nice thing about them hovering, is that they do it in very close to the same, exact place in the sky, so after the first shot, we just have to keep shooting. Which is what I did here. I saw her dive down, but I have no idea whether she got the fish. My camera was on a tripod, and though it swivels pretty well, I haven't mastered following anything down and to the right, and all my shots of her speeding back to the Hidden Creeks area were blurs.
My precious, now out-of-print Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas describes their voice as "fast, repetitive, cackling rattle, a little like a teacup shaking on a saucer." I always think of it as a very high-pitched staccato scream, and it does sound a lot like a woodpecker.
People keep asking me when the best time would be to see the Kingfishers. There's two, a male and a female. My best answer would be "when they are there." I go to Sunset Bay almost every day, except when I've already been to Sunset Bay every day that week. Sometimes one or the other or both of the Kingfishers are there. Sometimes I never see either of them. Sometimes they show early in the morning. Sometimes noon or in the late afternoon. There are no guarantees. This time it was about noon. And if Tommy hadn't seen it this time, I probably never would have. I saw him aiming his tele up and west, so I did, too. And found this.
My all-time favorite of my photographs of an Adult Female Kingfisher hovering is on the top (quick upload) of my List of Exhibitions. It's a little better than this series, because her wings aren't in such dark shadow, and it includes poetic verbal context because this version of that photo was created for an exhibition at the Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas. I've always wanted to perform the words, and I've even got some gestural hand-motions to go with, but it still scares me to think performing in public, although it's fun to do otherwise.
Compared to yesterday [below], today the pelicans seemed comatose.
October 1 2015
Got to the lake a little late today. Tried to find a parking space at the VA Hospital earlier. Never found one. So I went birding. Found 15 pelicans parked relatively close to the Pier at Sunset Bay, split over two spaces — one log and one underwater island. These are the log pelicans. The one with its wings up has just joined the party, and was kinda rude about it. They often are.
And the others made their feelings known. Didn't stop it, though. And it wouldn't stop it next time or the time after that. I've seen those sharp beaks pierce another pelican's lower mandible before. That's gotta hurt. Their lower mandible is the lower beak with flexible orange-pink skin. When they're fishing, they fill it up with fish and the water they were swimming in, drain the water, tilt back and swallow. I've seen them with pierced mandibles spouting water, but only rarely and just squirts.
Its work here, is done.
This is some or all — I was never quite sure, and they moved around — of the crew on the less-than island. I counted as far as 15 pelicans several times today. The last pelican on the right has its head — and beak — upside-down. It's just one of the many Strange Things Pelicans Do With Their Beaks.
There's actually a step-by-step procedure for stretching and nearly inflating those lower mandibles, so they'll stretch easily when gathered around fish — often several fish. But the whole procedure is rarely completed in the same way every time.
What's important is to stretch it out, without breaking it.
This pelicans has just stretched its lower mandible down over its extended breast, then brought it up (I've only seen them do this a couple hundred times, but I don't know exactly how they do it). They've been practicing all their lives. The valve-looking thing on this side of the inverted mandible hump may help drain the water. Till I get a good look at one doing that — from the inside — I won't know for sure, but I'm curious. I've also read it called a tongue.
Sometimes, but not always, they follow those steps with a big of beak woggling, wherein the parts go up and down quickly, which is usually accompanied by a woggling sound.
When you see three or more pelicans lining up like this and heading out somewhere in single file, it's a fair bet they're going fishing, which often involves some synchronized swimming.
Till the chase the fish into a shallow area and just go at them, filling up their mandibles that they've been so careful to keep flexible.
They already seemed to know where food was. Guess they'd been practicing wherever they came from — or here; it's really hard to tell who's who, and who's been here awhile or just a day. I didn't have an appointment today, but I went back when I thought I might find a space, found a close one, and the people I connected with helped me. So, on the whole, it was a positive development.
Except as noted, all text and photographs Copyright 2015 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission from and payment to Writer and Photographer J R Compton. I am an amateur. I've only been birding since June 2006, and most of that is documented in this Journal, all the pages of which continue online. I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally yet always amateurishly since 1964.
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