DO NOT USE photos without permissionBird Rescue Advice from Rogers Rehab White Rock Map
Pelican Beaks Herons Egrets Herons & Egrets Feedback Rouses Books & Links
White Rock Lake
September 30 again
Six of Twelve Pelicans, now
Been having a lot of luck at the lake in the hot old afternoon the last couple months, so I went back this aft. At first, I only saw one pelican, somewhat off in the bay. Then as I walked the pier toward the lake, I saw lots of brilliant white off to the right. I might have wakened them, or they were just standing there waiting for me to take their pix. Looked like they might be getting into formation to fly out — boy that would have been spectacular this close. But they just looked a little nervous, then swam out into the bay, did a little fishing, me clicking all the way.
I counted twelve total in the bay. Eleven in close and one out far.
Four Pelican Beaks
Until they fly, we won't know whether they're year-round pelicans or winter visitors. I don't care, really, it's so nice to have pelican action up close and personal without a lot of photog sneaking around.
Mounting the Bar
I wish there were more close-in perches for the pelicans. Not enough to go traipsing around in the muck, although intelligent human beings have done it, without nasty diseases or anything. Just I'm afraid I'd get stuck hauling big logs out there. I probably should have done it about four years ago, when I first started thinking about it. Of course, I was a tad stronger then, too.
So heart-gladdening to have frame-filling pelican action going on right in front of my camera.
King of the Hill
And get to watch their complex social interactions in color and detail.
And try to figure out who's who in their hierarchy.
I've seen plenty of beak crossing where "opponents" beak each other's beaks, but I've never seen any blood-letting. Photographers wait for these skirmishes, hoping to get in on the action, but they rarely last more than a few seconds. Then everybody's all buddy-buddy again for the longest time.
Eleven American White Pelicans in one Shot
Eleven in one is the most I got today. That elusive 12th, always seemed distant (literal distance) and aloof. Didn't seem to want to join in on the others' reindeer (pelican) games.
A Challenger Raises Its Beak
These mini "battles" are fascinating to me. Here the pelican on the far left raises its beak, as if in challenge of somebody out there. Only one other pelican even seems to be paying attention.
Then Within Seconds They're Going At It like The Three Musketeers
Then, as quickly as it started, it's over, and I don't know who won or why the bother. Maybe if I were a pelican, I'd just know.
Autumn Eclipse Mallards
The change of seasons brings a change of feathers. Mallards may be the most obvious, because there's just so many of them, and they're in close for us to watch. These guys stood on that partially-submerged log no more than a few feet in front of the pier at Sunset Bay with their heads buried in their wing feathers all the time I photographed the pelicans this afternoon. Finally, as I was about to leave, their heads emerged, and they looked more like birds than stumps.
Nine is one more than we've had all summer, as the eight Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation pelicans have been with us since May. By eyesight, Anna and I kept counting eight here, but there's those certain chunks of bulk behind other pelican bulks here. Nine. Count 'em, nine. But wait, there's one more.
And One Makes Ten
This one was somewhat left of the log full of pelicans, out standing in its shallow bay. Don't know which ones are our regular eight and which two are the New Ones from the North, but there's definitely ten now. Early this morning when I shot these, there wasn't much going on, but I suspect they'll be hungry and fishing all round the bay. They may come closer in the evening.
White Bird High Fly By
My far vision's not that wonderful without a healthy telephoto lens. I saw a white blob flying way up there, heading north. I wondered aloud whether it was yet another pelican, since at that time, we thought we could only see nine pelicans in Sunset Bay. But this one's "just" another egret.
Okay, so we got ten pelicans from the north now. Soon, maybe within the next week or so, we'll have 150 or so at once, then we'll winnow down to our usual 70, plus the eight, so 78, right?
American White Pelicans Fishing Behind Our More or Less Domestic Gooses
Faithful reader Bill Boyd returned from a visit to the lake at about 11 this morning and emailed saying he'd seen ten pelicans there this morning. I was tied up with a couple other jobs till about 2:30, when I got these shots of what are probably our same old eight (I counted seven) regular old pelicans. But I'll return this evening and will be watching the next couple days till my bigger project starts and I'll probably miss the mass pelican landing again this year, although a couple years ago I counted 140 in Sunset Bay, although usually only about half of that stay here through mid-April.
Those slivers of white bumps behind the log the wing-flashing goose is standing in front of, are the pelicans with their heads in the water fishing.
Pelican Among Domestic Gooses
By 'domestic,' I mean bred and hatched as farm birds, likely for eating, although they make great lawnmowers, too. All or most of our seventy or so year-round goose residents were purchased at Farm & Feed stores and released here. Charles, who buys them — he used to buy them from a place that treated them horribly, but now that place was put out of business; you may have read about it — also feeds them the good stuff (grain corn, wheat bread and crackers) every evening in Sunset Bay.
American White Pelican Playing with Fisher person's Bobber
I have actually watched — and photographed — American White Pelicans in an almost circle, playing and tossing around a clear plastic bottle, which at first looked to me a lot like a fish, and maybe looked to them like one, also. In play. In pelican play. So I'm pretty sure they have a sense of humor. This one had, I believe, already determined that this bobber was not food. Although he gave it a good try, biting, tasting, etc. it before it clearly decided that. And here it is tossing the bobber for the second or third time. Like we might a ball.
Pelican Joining the Gooses
I'm pretty sure pelicans know they are not gooses. Generally the two groups don't mix all that much, although it is not unusual to see pelicans on the little peninsula that sometimes becomes an island off to the right of the pier at Sunset Bay, depending upon how much rain we've had. Sometimes there's only pelicans there, sometimes only gooses and ducks. It's nice of them to settle so close and easily photographed from shore or pier.
In Another Part of the Lake
Next, I drove to the Bath House — no gooses or pelicans — where both groups sometimes settle, and newly arrived pelicans often go there before settling into Sunset Bay. Then I drove over to Yacht Club Row hoping to catch sight of the newly arrived pelicans, whom I assumed were advanced scouts. I've seen two or three such scouts arrive in the bay in several years previous.
While I was wandering around the east side of the lake I kept wondering whether the new pelicans who'd summered in the north (We've tracked them via number tags on their legs to Southern Idaho) saw the 7 or 8 rehabilitated pelicans and decided to go off somewhere else to establish their winter colony here, since this place already had residents. I wonder if they talked to what have been, this year at least, our resident pelicans, and if the residents told the scouts their whole long tales of woe and being locked up in hot cages at Rogers while they mended from attacks or sickness.
I expect to see pelicans come back in the usual force soon. They used to arrive mid-October. Then mid-September. So any time now would be about right. If I remember right, and this is one of those things I pay a lot of attention to, so I might, first come the scouts, then a week or so later, come the masses. Of course, the scouts may just be forward stragglers. I really don't know. But about pelicans I surmise a lot.
When I later drove back past the dam and spillway, hoping to find the three ducks missing — two newly arrived from up north and the one who can fly, from the eight that Rogers Rehabilitation released last May, after our usual winter-visiting flock of pelicans had gone back north. No pelicans or gooses there, either.
Adult Female Wood Duck
Any time I see juvenile or just-adult Wood Ducks, I grab camera and try to sneak up. This time I was clumsy enough to send them swimming rapidly away toward a tall pier full of fisher persons and family members, but I was quiet and careful enough to allow them to swim back in their own sweet time.
Another, Perhaps Younger, Adult Female Wood Duck
I'm never quite sure how juvenile or how
adult these Wood Ducks are. These two woodies (or woodettes) have very similar
head details while significantly differing wing and aft feather development.
I generally call them teens, although their not anywhere near that old. Just
there in that awkward age of development, when it's difficult to tell whether
they are adults or juveniles. Maybe tweens would be a better name for this stage.
I love looking at female Wood Ducks, who are much more beautiful than the brighter,
American White Pelican Fishing in Close
All eight of the pelicans released last May are probably pretty good fishers by now. I don't really know which of them this one is, but it seemed to spend and inordinate time playing with sticks it found underwater close in. I did see it swallow, but I did not see what. I assume it was catching something, because it kept at it, and I loved photographing it this close. Close enough to show detail all through its feathers, which as you can plainly see, are not all white.
Juvenile Snowy Egret with a Cinnamon Teal Pair
I shot this to show the size differences and similarities between these two species, who are often found cohabiting in the same places. Except, while I can identify the Snowy with fair certainty, I cannot find pictures of these ducks in my bird books. I used to say they aren't in there, but I'm sure they are. Just I can't find them. Ah! Anna says they are Cinnamon Teals. That's what I thought, also, just couldn't find their pic. Thanks always, Anna.
With the late slant of setting sun shining through them, American White Pelican beaks sometimes seem to glow. Note the several visual distinctions between these two otherwise similar birds. Could be age differentiation or sex. I don't know.
A Thickening of Cormorants
Winter must be coming. Cormorants are arriving in increasing numbers. One of the few benefits of taking the same picture two days running is the subtle changes to be seen.
Bright-eyed Wilbur of the Large Wattle
This journal keeps at it, but in fits and starts. Next week cut back, the week after, on fire like gangbusters. Gotta big web job comin', and after that another, but less intense. Coming and going and back again and again and again. The goose with the biggest wattle wins, is the top, uh... goose, and I couldn't even find a second-place wattle meister in the gaggle of gooses currently hanging out for a few weeks to a few months, at the Bath House.
I doubt that means there's not a successor in sight. Wilbur's been it a long, long time, knows all the tricks, but if they had to, somebody'd take over in a flash. What I want to know is whether that one would grow a bigger wattle?
Seven of Eight
The eighth one flies around wherever it wants, but apparently did not know the way well northwest of here, back to Southern Idaho, where most of our six-months-a-year winter visitors come from and go back to. By this time the last two late-summer early-autumns we had us some spectacular numbers of fresh-flown-down from there American White Pelicans.
But so far this, we only got the eight, and usually, because that one's fly-enabled, only seven.
Snowy Egrets Chasing
Snowies are fierce little egrets, always willing to puff out their feathers — mild to extreme rouse — just to look intimidating, then they love to chase each other off from prime fishing grounds. They are so full of themselves and are very entertaining to watch. And photograph, but I gotta be quick.
Today I managed to capture two different chases. This one in bright enough sunlight to no blur anybody.
Little White Unsubs in the Distance
I watched these guys flutter and flitter past the dam out toward the Old Boat House. Only then did I remember I could photograph them instead of trying to identify them with my very faulty eyesight. Oh well.
Snowy Egret and Juvenile Little Blue Heron
I knew the green legged white birds with gray-to-black beaks were probably neither Cattle Egrets or Snowy Egrets nor Great Egrets, so I paid them special attention. This is as close as one got to me, nearly hanging on the metal fence overlooking the upper spillway.
Snowy Egret on the Dam
The dam is at the top of the spillway, and this snowy was caught, it appears, mid rouse. I love the out of focus look of water splooshing over the dam.
Puffed-up Snowy Egret
Snowies don't hold still that often, so I am delighted to capture one all puffed up and holding still. It's obviously very intensely looking for food, and the rouse may be left over from chasing a snowy smaller than it away from this fishing hole.
Puffed-up and Quilted
Speaking of partial rouses, here's this partially puffed Great Blue Heron I came upon just short of scaring it away, immediately backed up and away from the edge at the bottom of the lower steps, then very slowly circled out and back more toward the walking bridge.
Rocking Great Blue Heron
Up at the crack of dawn this morning — I didn't get up then. I was still up then, though a bit groggy from my usual all-nighter doing something important, no doubt. At The Spillway to walk and photograph whoever showed up. Got a lot of pictures, some quite good. This early, however, when the sunlight had not reached down into the concrete gully that is The Spillway, focus, apparent sharpness and those things were still pretty iffy.
"Broke-wing" Great Blue Heron
I'd been watching this apparently juvenile Great Blue Heron, because — well — I always watch them, identify with them, love photographing Great Blue Herons. Even like saying or typing their name, though GBH is much shorter. Looked like this one, like I am some times, being a little klutzoid. Was its wing broken? What's going on down there?
Tippy-toeing Great Blue Heron
I think it was not used to living on the slant. I've walked much higher on that angling slab, and I decided not to go any farther. No doubt about it. But after rains, this is the most likely place, maybe in the whole lake, to catch fish. Later this day, I saw another, older, more experienced GBH catch one good-sized fish after another after another, standing close to where this one was wobbling.
Falling Great Blue Heron
It was having a lot of problems negotiating the concrete-scape. Maybe it's first time over there. It flew in with aplomb, but soon as it encountered the slant, it started having trouble.
Wingy-Dingy Great Blue Heron
Looks like it's tripping, and it really is wobbling down there.
Then it both appeared to fall down and seemed to slide purposely into the drink with its wings outstretched. I've seen other herons actually cup their wings over a reflecting pond with big fish in it, and that's what I thought this might have been up to.
What's It Doing?
And though this is definitely not that, it does appear that it's after something in the water, just going about it remarkably clumsily. I know the feeling.
And Flew Away
It did not seem to be injured, and after a while and after righting itself, it flew away.
I'll be back this week with some other winged adventures and other photos from this early morning. Right now I needs my sleep.
Black-crowned Night Heron in a Tree
Had been raining yester, so I visited the Spillway again, but I managed to scare all the birds on the lower steps back into the trees on the island whose name I cannot remember, so I shot what I could see, then trudged up the hill hoping to not scare a lot more birds, and I didn't.
Black-crowned Night Heron with Gossamer Waterfall
Somewhat later, I came back and did not scare this one away by staying on the walking bridge above. I've probably taken hundreds of pictures of one bird or another standing on these slanted slabs of concrete as water flushed by. They're waiting for food to come swimming by.
Low-flying Great Egret
Most of today's birds flying flew faster and more out of focus than this, but it's nice to get one every once in a while as they fly over the upper Spillway.
Roused-out Great Blue Heron in Another Tree
This Great Blue Heron is standing in a tree near where that other one was, and in fact, very near a whole bunch of other big white birds were, but they kept blowing out their highlights (looking all white) in my viewfinder, so I concentrated on this gorgeous gray bird. Big fluff.
Egrets Fly Away
The camera I usually use for birds is not good at tracking birds in flight, and I only get lucky with those subjects some of the time, so out past the dam, they start being in mostly focus.
Ibis, Sky, Trees
We were socializing with the Bird Squad at Sunset Bay when Charles pointed to a flock heading our way and asked who they were. Annette watched awhile, then identified them as Ibis. Then Anna and then I rushed gently around the ducks still eating corn along the shore, so we wouldn't scare them off, but we could see more sky, and the Ibis as they swung through the closer sky, circling in toward the bay at our feet.
Dark birds on dark trees makes for near invisibility. Luckily I'd already set my camera at the highest ISO it had. A little grainy (digital noise), but you can see bird shapes in the dark trees. It's difficult to discern birds from trees from digital noise, but nearly the whole flock is in this photo.
Lowering lower and lower in. I clicked every chance I got. Winnow out the losers later.
Ibis Landing with Sunset
Ibis Flock in the Setting Sun
Not much so spectacular as a flock of Ibis in the sunset.
Then, finally, as they were within inches of the surface of the crowded inner bay …
Then They Flew Off
They decided not to after all.
And flew off toward the west.
Almost Adult and Adult Wood Ducks
The find of the day was these just-about adult Wood Ducks of slightly differing ages and maybe even genders. The big-eyed ones are females, just not sure about the two on the left. They may be younger or male.
Adult or Just About Adult Female Wood Ducks
Closer-up of two just-at adult female Wood Ducks, always beautiful. Not sure about the white face on the one on the left. Does somebody out there know?
Dark, Dark and White Ducks
They're all pretty wild now, but I suspect the one in the middle is from the bunch of black ducks released a couple months ago. The orange-billed one may be a sibling of a slightly different age or disposition, and the one on the right is a more or less domestic. Or something like that.
Great Blue Heron with Distant Skyline
I so wanted to place the Great Blue Heron against the skyline, but I probably would have had to sniper in through the reeds to juxtapose them, and more likely even than getting bugs crawling all over my body and biting me in too many places, is that the Great Blue would have flown away before I got close enough or all the way in place. So I stayed in my car and shot away.
Great Blue Heron on a Stick
This is later, after I made the loop south, then loop-de-loop back north along the Big Thicket area. Then I saw that same GBH as earlier, and parked closer and in the shade to get these shots.
Teeter-totter: Great Blue Heron with Double-crested Cormorant
The GBH stayed up and the DCC stayed down.
Tricolored Heron Darting After Food
I needed to photograph me some birds. It'd been too long, so somewhere along mid-day, after I'd finished most of my day's tasks, I wandered off to the lake. On the way, the scene at the Old Boat House flashed in my mind's eye, so I went there. Cloudy skies gave way to splatters while I watched from the new wooden bridge.
Tricolored Heron in Left Profile Changing Directions Quickly
I was taking what I could get, which seemed to be one lone Great Egret, not far from the reeds near the far end of the bridge. Click-click. Even got a duck down there. Female Mallard. Ho hum. Click-click anyway. Then out of the right corner of my eyes, I saw something low, fast and grayish.
Tricolored Heron in Profile
I thought it could be a Green Heron or a Little Blue Heron, maybe even a juvenile Great Blue. It was small, short, and like I said, very quick, darting back and forth, closer, then farther from the bridge. Turning on nickels, dancing around the shallow lagoon, catching many tasty thingies.
I struggled to be as close as possible to it without getting in enough of a hurry to frighten it away. Bicycles rumbled over the bridge, shaking everything. People pushed baby prams. Folks ran. I was quiet and dedicated.
Tricolored Heron Ready to Dart its Long, Sharp Beak into Something to Eat
I'd seen a Tricolor pair at Trammell Crow Lake at Trinity Park about this time last month, so I knew they were out and about Dallas these hot summer days. I wasn't too surprised about that sighting, since we'd been photographing their parents raising tricolored chicks in the comparatively close-by Medical Center Rookery over the past several years.
I was the first to photograph a Tri-colored Heron at the Rookery, but I didn't get on the first sightings list, because I didn't know there was such a thing, and I thought what I'd seen and photographed for only a few seconds (maybe less long than my Bald Eagle at the lake) was just another Great Blue Heron.
Tricolored Heron Pauses to Wiggle Its Foot where Prey Might Go For ITt
But now I snap to what they are when I see them in places as unlikely as White Rock Lake. I must say I was delighted to see it there today, and I hope it keeps coming back and brings its whole clan. I'm so glad it rained while I was photographing it, so there's more water in the lake, so all its kin keep coming back and finding lots of food.
It seemed to be catching little things to eat over and over as I watched, and it was still very actively fishing when I cradled my camera to protect it from the rain and skedaddled back to The Slider to slide on home.
The Great Egret I was Photographing When I saw the Little Tricolor
Handsome Great Egret on its own little island sticking out through more water than I'd seen there on my last visit. Rain! Hallelujah!
Dogwood canyon audubon center
Kathy Rogers and Ms. Chitters, the Barred Owl
We went to the new Audubon Center. So did a lot of other people. I saw one blur of a wild bird and the usual retinue of tame wild birds. So I photographed them. I hoped Kathy Rogers of Rogers Wildlife Recovery would let the Black Vulture in front of her bite me, like it had been biting her, she said, "all day." But she wouldn't. I've been bitten — if you can call it that — by American White Pelicans at Rogers Wildlife and various ducks and gooses at White Rock Lake.
This bird was called Mr. Chitters in various promotions until "he" laid an egg. Now she's Ms. Chitters.
I'm not a masochist at heart. I just wanted to compare bite strengths. Just curious. A little stupidly, I suppose. Those guys reach their whole heads into dead carcasses and pull out the good parts. Gotta be pretty fierce. But it had bit Kathy several times on the arm, and she wasn't even bleeding. Oh, well. I walked up one trail and we investigated another one, but neither of us saw any other birds. We'll be back when it's cooler and there's no busloads of people there.
White Rock Lake
Twist and Flap
Tedious as it is to see and photograph the same birds every day — probably my fault for not seeking more — I still visit the lake almost every day. Anna reported a couple days ago, that there were eight American White Pelicans in Sunset Bay. We haven't seen all eight rescued and released pelicans since late last spring, so I wondered if maybe more had been arriving. In the background is Dreyfuss Point.
But apparently not. Huge flocks of them arrive at White Rock Lake sometime between about now and mid-October, so it's not outrageous, but I've been every day since Anna told me about counting eight, just to see if their numbers grew. And they have not. So, apparently, the one that had been off on its own, is back with the others. That one can fly, so is able to go where it wants, and now it must want to be with the others. No telling if the one above, flapping and wing stretching, is the one who comes and goes, but I saw at least one other pelican stretching its wings, too, today.
Egret Nook at the Entrance to Hidden Creek
The only thing new, at least to this observer, is this nook of egrets at the opening to the farther of the two Hidden Creeks east of Sunset Bay. It may be that instead of standing on the pier today, I stood in the shade near the benches somewhat west of the pier, so I had a new angle of view. Some in the shade, some in the sun, and they probably change positions one way or another — they usually do.
The Bay Gray
While panning my telephoto around Sunset Bay, I was startled to see The Bay Gray comparatively close in, so I photographed it, of course. The continuing saga of the Drying Beds can continue some other time. Most of the birds I have left are yet-to-be-identified, so I don't mind the wait.
The Fort Worth Drying Beds in Legacy Park
September 6 2011
I know these guys. I've seen them all over southern and South Texas from the ocean to the prairie. Especially in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and the Fort Worth (That's what it says on the sign at the entrance) Drying Beds in Arlington, Texas (although they are often called something else.
Looking carefully, I do see differences I would have ascribed to sex differentiation. One has pink legs and a very nearly solid black beak. The other has amber-brown legs and a bit of orange on the side of its beak. Peterson doesn't, but Sibley (The Sibley Guide to Birds) notes age differences. Peterson shows them with long red legs, and Sibley points out slight distinctions between juvenile (in front above) and adult (behind) — especially note leg color and how far the black on their necks extend downward.
Nice to get to visit again with old friends. Was a time when I'd automatically have called these two "a pair," but now I may finally know better. Especially nice to get to watch and photograph (in focus yet) them fly.
Nice to know I haven't completely lost my nose (eyes?) for subtle differences.
I've been looking for this particular red-headed duck in my bird books. Any of you who have volunteered to help me identify birds are welcome to try your hand, nose or eyes on this one. I know the four birds flying toward it are stilts, and it's both unusual for me to capture them flying and extremely unusual for my Micro Four Thirds camera to get them in focus. But there it is.
Bekah says, "Just a guess, but I'm thinking that the duck behind your stilts is a male redhead. The head color looks right, it seems that there is the black tip on the end of the bill, and the body coloring looks to be similar as well." That's what I initially thought, but I know how wrong I usually am, so I left it to those more expert. Thanks, Bekah.
These are not quite as sharp, probably because
they occupy a small portion of the much wider frame, so here they are enlarged
significantly more than most of the shots on this page. Just thought it was interesting
how they tilt their wings and their bodies as they approach their chosen landing
Glossy Ibis Drips into Flight
I didn't want to start another month with the same old birds. I'm really getting tired of those same old and young and in-between birds I always photograph. This early, cool, breezy morning we went to the rookery, then off to the Drying Beds, which were particularly dry, but not without avian rewards a plenty. This bird seems to be taking flight with a lot of the murk that must cover the wet bottom of the pond.
Glossy Ibis Preening
I guess I'm going to show you what all I got in segments, beginning with the Glossy Ibis, who may have been the most exotic bird I could identify — which rather limits our selection. But I shot a lot of silicon today, and don't want to have to do it again tomorrow or the next day, so I'll spread this visit out a little.
Glossy Ibis in Landscape
One of the few "ponds" there that still has water in it in these desperate Texas drought months. Many of the pans that used to be lush with water and water birds were arid and dry today. Scary dry. But at least not hot, like it's been. Cool and dry, then.
Glossy Ibis Feeding
At least I think it's feeding. Or attempting to. Since there were so many birds to be seen there today, there must have been plenty to eat, but I never caught sight of what.
Glossy Ibis Stare
I'm having inner difficulties with the name of this bird. Glossy it clearly is not. I have seen them caked with gook on their feathers, and I've seen them wet and dry and moist and in betweens, but I don't think I have ever seen them glossy. Oh, well.
Just showing the comparative sizes of our first two birds this week.
More birds tomorrow. I need to go eat some
hot dogs and hamburgers with Anna.
text and photographs copyright 2011 by J
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
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.