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The Current Journal is always Here All Contents Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.
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Bird Rescue Advice Name That Bird Herons Egrets Herons & Egrets Books and Links
Pelican Beak Weirdness Rouses Courtship Display D800e Journal G5 Journal Duck Love Coyotes
Birding Galveston 2nd Birds of the Lower Rio Grande Valley & the 1st Bald Eagle at White Rock for 14 seconds
Interesting Birds This Month: FOS
Pelican Landing Eastern Phoebe Hagerman
First Pelican of the Season Roadrunner - Beep Beep Keets on The Beach Flying Killdeers
Egrets Chase-off White-faced Ibis First Pelican Landing of the Season Broke-neck Duck
Hagerman Wildlife Refuge Flocks of female Cinnamon Teal and Blue-wing Teal Flybys
White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas, USA
This odd little downlet has become one of my favorite places to observe birds from the subtlety of my car, the oft-referred The Slider. As you can see, it's on the edge of water, where lots of different species of birds gather in ones, twos and dozens. It's easy to drive to, and it's a place I have photographed some of my favorite birds in some of my favorite photographs.
As usual, I stayed for whatever birds were there already. I had no idea who else might show up — or if anybody else even would.
Although they run wild through that whole west side of the lake, Monk Parakeets rank low on the species I expected to display themselves in all their colored glory right there in front of me, my car and my lens today. What a nice surprise. While a Grackle splash bathes in the lake beyond.
Not sure what exact species of food it is, but it's probably some sort of seed. Looks like one. Seeds is what parrots eat.
Looks like the one on the left is stepping off a beat for them all to sing along with, but actually what they're about is food, which the leader on the left has some of and may just share. Kinda hard to tell relative size with the monster lens doing its relative-distance distortions, but it could be the one on the right in front might be a juvenile, and thus expectant of food from an adult. I'm just not sure.
I may have captured that underwing blue before, but I don't remember it. Pretty, huh?
Looks like it could be a continuation of the action begun in the previous frame, but there's three full minutes difference, so it's probably not.
It may see as if the longer I parked there photographing out The Slider's driver window, the more species gathered, but after awhile, they all thinned out, got extremely leery of any motion in or near the beach. They'd all fly off, then come right back, then all fly away again. Over and over.
While one bird continues its splash bath, and another watches in my direction.
I don't know how many times I've attempted to get parakeet pictures like this. I've often visited their extensive stick nests in The Big Hum up the hill from the Old Filter Building, but there, I was always too far away. Here, where I just larked in, was right about perfect. Great light, good focus, lots of intra-bird activity.
And all these parakeets jumping and flying was just amazing. If I'd been quicker to click, I might have got even more shots.
Bathing was the main activity, and it continued to be. I finally drove off when no parakeets, starlings or grackles came back into my field of view for more than about five minutes. I figured my time there today was over, but my oh, my, was it ever busy and colorful there for awhile.
Everything tucked in streamlined tight, angling down.
Great, long, skidding splash.
After a thorough soak diving several times as I followed it across the lagoon.
A couple more detail shots to come.
Must be the new guys. I woulda remembered those poofy tops.
Hard to keep up with the 'released' domestic ducks in Sunset Bay, but Easter was such a long time ago…
This was this morning's first shot, although as I came up the pier, I saw parts of a large, gray bird I assumed was a Great Blue Heron just off the end of the pier turning to fly away. I missed that one entirely, but soon as I got out to the end of the pier I started wishing I could get that luscious mist.
I knew I'd need something sharp to contrast against all that lovely nebulousness. I didn't, however, realize I'd already shot not only that shot, but this one, too. So my wish had already been granted. Thanks, Universe.
I parked the slider off to the left of the road back to Buckner Boulevard, snuggled my view under a low-hanging tree, and never saw the red baseball bat on the cylindrical concrete riser till I was working the shot up. Fogs and mists are so surreal.
It was a lovely, cool morning out on the pier, and I was amazed at how many birds there were. Autumn air seems to bring everybody out, and as we shall see, it brought a big bunch of bird not just out once, but over and over and over again. We might have had to wait a few minutes between them, but in just about every imaginable direction, there were birds galore.
Fun following this bird into the tallest part of the taller trees overlooking Sunset Bay, then another came, and then another came. A little like Christmas with gorgeous ornaments on the leafy trees.
All the while, our three most recent American White Pelican residents preened and preened and preened. They probably needed to. They've flown in from, oh, North Dakota, East Idaho or somewhere north east, north west or just north of here. I can't wait till there's 67 or 147 more.
These are reminiscent of the flock of what I called Cinnamon Teal that flew me by the other day. I'm still pretty sure those were Cinnamon Teal, but these ducks — all females again — are somewhat different — I'm pretty sure they are Blue-winged Teal, and they seemed a little more confused.
Their first second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth passes bordered on amazing, but after about twenty more, it started getting routine. Where were they going? Why'd they keep coming back over Sunset Bay? What's here that so tantalized them, and why didn't they drop in for a few family portraits?
Luckily, between the repetitive passes of the female Blue-winged Teal flock, we got inner Sunset-Bay Flying American Crows, each with one or two — I think I saw one crow with three big old seeds in its beak — crossing over to land with food.
They'd disappear for awhile, but I always knew they'd be back soon, so I got lots of practice, and may even have got better for the next half hour or so of repeated flock passes. Great fun!
In and out, over and around one way and then the other, up into the sky and down closer to the surface. it was a wild ride and for awhile, I didn't think they'd ever stay gone, then they did.
I still follow our usual brand of Texas Mockingbirds whenever I can, always hoping for some sort of unusual shot. Like this. Yee-haw!
Heading out, but soon enough, they were all back again, circling, circling …
When they finally did leave the area, they flew the other way from this shot, and they went all the way away at long last. Fun having them to practice fast birds in flight, though.
If you really want to know what's going on in this odd set of sunset pictures from where else but Sunset Bay, you won't read the captions or my text, just make up your own mind what's going on here from the images, which are presented in strict, chronological order.
But the writer of these words may have an agenda.
Looks like even more joy, but appearances can be deceiving.
Enter somebody new.
You won't be able to see its beak well enough for a few more pix.
Egrets from the unwelcoming committee rush into action.
The Ibis looks around for someplace to alight.
You'll just have to take my word on that identification. It was way too dark from the first I saw it, but they told me about the White-faced Ibis almost as soon as I arrived at Sunset Bay past 7 pm September 23, and I had to be back in Casa Linda by 7:30. They'd been photographing it awhile, then it hove into view, and they pointed me to it, so I joined in.
I would, however, have been more than pleased to leave the day before this one's pictures at the top of the journal for a couple more days. Just that Sunset Bay got a lot livlier lately. We were gonna go west for birds, but this much local excitement precludes that possibility. For the moment.
But still too dark. It might be interesting to note that I've changed the dates on this page of the journal down to … oh … somewhere below, so they now reflect actual dates … mostly … I think. As I write this, these shots are from yesterday, my birthday, and I just think it was mighty nice of the Universe to offer such a lovely present.
Obvious who is heading toward The Hidden Creek area across from Sunset Bay.
Escaping into the falling sunset.
Into the darkness on the other side of the lake that looked to my eyes much darker than this. Jet Black, in fact. Nice that I can lighten some stuff up later. There's probably more pix on that 'roll,' but this is enough for now. It's late, and I need sleep.
Or maybe it's just landing.
Egrets and Cormorants get back to what passes for normal in some interspecies life.
I photographed the first-of-the-season American White Pelican already in Sunset earlier this month, but this is the first one I've actually seen fly in and land. Of course, there were already two other American White Pelicans in Sunset Bay by the time I arrived late on this very special day, but I've been wanting to photograph pelicans flying since the last time I was down on the coast, so here it is. Flaps down and a couple feet off the surface. Beautiful big white bird coming down.
Neotropic Cormorants with skidding pelican.
The one other pelican in the bay at that time was busy preening on another log somewhat to the left (north) of these two, so of course, when the third pelican into the bay landed and swam around the log and attempted to mount the log, it did it where another pelican was already standing and had been standing for awhile.
Sometimes a tilted back head is a bird challenge, but I'm thinking this is more of a greeting. Nobody seemed upset.
Note that the turtle and two closest cormorants all seem to have something to say, too.
Other Places In White Rock Lake
I've been meaning to shoot this scene for awhile. Actually have been for years, but it's nice to do it with each new improvement in camera resolution. I could make this one into a really big print.
I'd been watching this bird, and was only able to photograph it when it came up from apparently deep dives. So I was watching it so I could click it each time it came up. And when it came up the next time, it came up with this.
Notice the gradual thickening of the corm's throat as it figures out how to get fish down gullet. Most of that happened with it aiming toward the other side, so I skipped that part here.
It's down the throat and entering the stomach.
Several Days ago I pointed out to someone who'd see what they thought was the F.O.S. American Coot. First of the Season. But since I'd been seeing them often all summer long, I pointed that out to them on Bird Chat, then I didn't see any American Coots till now, so I was glad to see this one. Not really the last or the first. Just another.
This was actually the first bird I saw worth photographing on this afternoon's late — about 4:30 pm — drive down past the place where the new kiddy land rides are on big steel trees where real trees used to grow.
Not terribly far beyond this egret was the bat box with the American Kestrel on it from yesterday's journal entry.
The rains filled Sunset Bay up well into the jungle that usually grows there, so egrets and other supposedly shore birds were well up on the land looking for food.
I suspect they are Cinnamon Teals and perhaps not NOrthern Shovelers, who have similar under-wing patterns and colors, because their beaks are more Shoveler like than actual Shoveler size (big) and shape. It was one of those situation where I looked up, saw something slightly different than every-day avian fare there, and I clicked away at the part of the flock I could get in my sometimes too-long tele lens, so I could worry about figuring out who they are later. Eagle-Eye Fleegle, I am not, but my lens is.
Later, when the flock was farthr out over the lake, I got this shot of them illuminated by the evening slant of sun.
Then, as they wound around the lake, they came right over Sunset Bay one more time.
Not sure which dark duck that is sandwiched between the white ducks on the big log that the flood has brought back into the wild green of the shore.
The peninsula of mud that sometimes stretches all the way across from the beach where Charles feeds the geese and ducks to the wilder life, plants and trees on the Hidden Creek side visible at the top of this pic, was fully underwater when I shot this. By now, though, who knows?
I remembered the sky as stormy that morning, but it looks more like blue sky. I'm not really sure who those other two blobs of white are.
While I stood on the pier this early, cool, morning, Charles joined me on the pier and called to our resident Mute Swan, calling it Katy. Or KT. I asked about plans to get it a mate, since I knew he'd be the one who knew the correct details.
He said he'd met someone who lives out of Dallas who raises swans and could tell its sex just by looking at it — and not physically messing with such a big, strong bird.
All in the quest to get him or her a mate, which might make the swan happier, but would certainly make happier a lot of the people who see him/her every day.
I've been noticing and photographing these very pretty [I think they're] ducks, and today saw one (the one closest to us, in the lower middle here, seemed to be way under the weather. Lying with its head close to the ground.
Having so many gooses around for so long has given me the opportunity to begin to understand how close-knit ducks and gooses sometimes are. How they actually take care of each other and/or guard each other when they're hurt or ill or too small to protect themselves. This duck seemed listless and weak, and it didn't move much, except closer to the grass while I photographed it and asked it about how it was feeling. And wished it well.
Several days later, we saw this same duck walking with its neck out and down in front of the rest of it, looking too much like its neck had been broken. It was alive, but not well, and probably not able to get away from predators quickly or well.
Driving slowly around the bend from Sunset Bay toward Dreyfus Point, I noticed not for the first time, the bat box high and far back in the meadow to my left. And on top of it, is that a bird? To find out, I got the Blunderbuss out, aimed carefully and shot. This is very likely not the first shot, or the second. More like the 29th attempt. But it shows the full frame I was working with. And at this scale, it looks sharp enough.
American Kestrels will get more and more numerous and visible — if you know where to look and are patient at looking — around here in the autumn and winter. Still, at this scale, the focus is fine, no problem, no big deal. As you can see, this is a significant enlargement from the shot above.
American Kestrels are 7.5 to 8 inches long, with a wingspan of 20-24 inches. According to my treasured Lone Pine Birds of Texas, kestrels like to swoop down from a perch (like this one) or hover above. Sibley calls it "our smallest and most delicate falcon," and it's a favorite of mine, because there will be lots of them scattered around the lake, although I mostly find them on the east side, on bat boxes, yes, but also telephone lines and perched in taller trees.
If I'd had a tripod with me and the desire to stand out in the grass where hundreds, nay, thousands of insects — many of them the types who bite overweight photographers, even if they've got their long pants tucked into their sox, and have recently showered in gallons of DEET — I might have set it up and attempted manual focus. But that bird was a long, long way away, and not only could I not even see it clearly (my far vision sucks) in reality, I couldn't really even see it this well in my viewfinder.
I heard it before I saw it, its staccato rattling up the creek. I wasn't quick enough to capture its image when it alighted on a nearby wire, where it stayed only a tantalizing few seconds. By the time I got the lens aimed it its general direction, it was off in this recovering dive. But I know where it's hanging out, and soon as my couple dozen insect bites of several intensely itching varieties quit annoying me day and night, I'll go find them and maybe get better pix next time. I clicked at it three times, but only got it this once.
Last time I photographed a Belted Kingfisher, I got her pretty decent once and fair a couple other times. I got this one's wing and tail feathers pretty good, but the rest of the bird is too dark and underexposed.
There's been a lot of wood ducks out and about at Sunset Bay and The Old Boathouse Lagoon lately. The next one down may be the same exact bird.
I should apologize to regular readers, because about a month ago, I thought I was going to do a major project, then I thought I broke my foot, hobbled around for several weeks, till I figured out what I had — and it wasn't what my civilian doctor didn't say I had, so it took awhile to figure out. Then I pretty much fixed it, and now it only hurts when I get out of the swimming pool. Kinda wish I could flap my arms and rise like wood ducks can. So I didn't get to do my long-planned project, and stayed here and continued photographing birds, so there's plenty of those Last Month and this. I made my plans, and the Universe had a giggle. Sorry. Maybe next year.
I don't know if his non-breeding status is due to age or proclivity.
I was hoping for a nice, clear, placid reflection shot here, but that's not what fate dealt.
I often think it's odd to see a large bird in a tree, but it's a bird, and birds hang out in trees.
When I first saw this bird, I thought it might be a dove, but it looked different somehow, something to do with its attitude, I thought. The reason I wait to identify many birds till I get them up on my computer is that my far vision is fairly lousy. I'm not quite a blind photographer — and yes, I still think that's kinda funny — but I photographed it anyway.
I was there to check up on the NBHP Great Egret and just see if I could find the Great Blue Heron I've seen and photographed there lately.
No GBH, but there was this Great Egret, the White & Black ducks ...
I saw and kept seeing Wood Ducks all morning and all around the lake. I'll show you the larger versions tomorrow, if I remember.
I think they were just mock fighting. No blood. No cries of pain. Just little birds scuffling. Maybe practice for when they get bigger and have to do it for real.
That's what they do most of the time when photographers lurk.
On the wood bridge by The Old Boathouse.
First thing I heard when I arrived at Bird Squad Beach in Sunset Bay today was the screaming, high-pitched almost electronic sound of Killdeer communicating. It was very nearly annoying, and the whole bay echoed with those never-quite-harmonizing sounds. Usually, an unusual bird sound is a secret door into finding individuals, but with those sounds' bouncing around in the bay, it was very difficult to track down where they were.
It didn't help my visual search that Killdeer are so much smaller than most of the birds in Sunset Bay, where Farmer Charles keeps his gooses. It was early-ish, the light was just barely brightening on the inner bay. The more I looked, the more killdeer I saw.
Once again from my treasured Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas, "Best Sites: any open field, parking lot or gravelly area statewide." Status: Common to abundant resident throughout Texas."
Killdeer are 9 to 11 inches long with a wingspan of about 24 inches.
They were left and right and flying by the middle of the pier all the time I was there this early morning. Busy busy.
I didn't always get a chance to check my work after one flyby to the next, but I kept shooting every chance I got, and I netted a remarkably high percentage of them sharp. All that studying about my no-longer-new camera has really helped me.
What I really need to accomplish these shots of little-bird fly-bys was practice. If I keep at it, I'll get better. If I lax off into outer-space and not photograph birds for a few days, I lose my edge.
I caught these birds between tasks. But they rarely hold still for long.
I assume they're all looking for food. That's job one with birds.
I didn't actually start seeing Killdeer flying till I'd taken most of the above photographs of them. But I kept watching for who was making all those piercing calls, and eventually I saw several fly bys, usually in singles of birds, perfect for me.
The first birds I noticed were two or three of these large birds.
Pretty things. But really large, pretty things. Birds of truly high caliber.
Similar colors I first mistook as another on of the sunset-looking gooses, but more likely now t be an ordinary, brown goose. Sleeping up on one leg.
No telling whom I'll find next time.
Flower Mound, Texas
September 13 2013
In Flower Mound to photograph some art, I had brought the blunderbuss, because I knew I'd be near a big lake with little or no, that I could see on the map, direct lake access, and lots and lots of trees, according to the satellite version of that MapQuest map (Goo has been experimenting with a new version, and I already hate it, so it was back to MapQuest). Anyway, driving down a long and rolling road toward my artist friend's place, I paused to watch a fountain, then startled to see a Great Blue Heron, so I unbury the clunk, aim at the bird, click a couple times, chimp the LCD to see how I did, and thus miss it majestically flying low across the pond past the fountain.
This GBH is in sunlight, so it is, of course, gray.
Except this same exact GBH is in the shade this time, so it really looks blue. Again, I clicked twice, then chimped the LCD, and the GBH flew low, slow and close (great for photographs, if I had been paying attention) across the pond.
It was way too late in the day when I got back to Big D, just missing traffic jams, to find much aviary worth photographing, even in Sunset Bay, so I went anyway, feeling impervious to bugs biting (wrong, again) and stood out on the pier in Sunset Bay until the sweat poured. They haven't got all their markings yet, but they're small — or else they're involved in the summer molt, so their feather colors have changed. Or something.
Sharp in the front and blurry in back, another cute juve or something Wood Duck.
So there I was barely standing on the pier photographing the gooses and the one Snowy Egret darting around for fish and the occasional whatever else, when I see what I initially assumed was a big bumblebee. No buzzing, but that erratic, directionless flying, more like an insect than a bird. But it was a bird, and a tiny one, and my first several shots at it were way off focus, then it disappeared into nothingness and landed on one edge, then when I got a bead on it there, it quickly transubstantiated to the other side of the pier, where I got it several times good.
Gus on Dallas Audubon's Bird Chat says it's an Eastern Phoebe, and I believe he's right.
I didn't know what it was — which bird it was/is — and I've looked through the flycatcher pages of a couple bird I.D birds to little avail so far, and I kept thinking I don't know this bird. It must be new to me. Certainly that erratic flight pattern was. I never remember what they say, and I keep hearing about people who are so good at bird-identifying that they know a hundred different species by their sounds, and I don't even hear their sounds or remember them for more than a few seconds.
So what it is, I do not know. But it was fun seeing it, recognizing it as a bird and not a bumblebee — a little big for one of those — and still kinda fun not knowing, but having captured it in focus a couple times, especially the detail of all those whiskers around its beak, which must mean it catches bugs in flight.
sure where they'll end up going, so I just follow them down. Yesterday, I started
with the next pic down. Tonight I realized that it's part of a whole long series
of pretty good shots, so I'm contextualizing them back again, to make a much
I've been photographing Sunset Bay again and again, as usual, as always. Sometimes I think I should do it somewhere else, and then I do that, but I always come back to Sunset Bay. All these shots were taken in Sunset Bay, I think.
I seem to have been learning some important things about how to get optimum focus out of my new camera. The tick apparently, is to keep at it, do a little more every day, find some bird haplessly flying along, try to follow it, keeping the focus circle right on top of it as it flies horizontally or down vertically.
Kept thinking of the word awry when I saw this image. Looked it up, and sure enough, it's on the button. "Out of the normal or correct position; askew; away from the appropriate, planned, or expected course; amiss: but it works perfectly, if not elegantly.
Today, I think we're going to stick with Great Egrets, which I seem to have been having great luck with lately.
I don't know. The leprechauns who finish my work late at night didn't leave me any notes, so I'm not sure, but I don't think this Great Egret and the great egret that fell, fell, fell onto those logs brief seconds ago, and this bird, are the same one. But now I'm pretty sure it is the same one as in the next shot down.
And luckily the day I did all this shooting there were lots of Great Egrets all around the bay.
Sometimes they seemed to be playing with each other, sometimes doing a little challenging. Often, when one landed on a perch, soon would come along another, bee-lining right to where that one was perching happily, so it has to take to the air and find another perch, back and forth all across the bay and up the lagoon.
Sometimes stopping for the all-important preen.
Then off again.
Beautiful, steady video of Five-month Old Barred Owl Juvenile Up Close on the east side of the lake.
With Neotropic cormorants and one Great Egret out on the logs. If history is any guide, and it is for pelicans, it will be out there preening and resting for a couple days, although the egret and cormorants will come and go. It's tired, because it's come a long way. From as far away as North Dakota, eastern Idaho or points north and mostly west.
Gradually, over the next few days, weeks, even months, many more white pelicans will fly into Sunset Bay and many other sites around Texas and other states. It's migration time, and that timing may have been accelerated by what's commonly called Global Warming. My memory tells me the pelicans from the north first arrived mid-last September, but I don't have pictures of them till later, and the Rogers Releases always confused the issue till they finally got up the strength and flew away.
I have heard others talk about pelicans arriving earlier in the past, but I don't always believe statements like that, because it's so easy to fudge facts not backed up with something like dated photographs. But this is the earliest I remember there being visiting pelicans. A couple years before that, the first pelicans of the season I saw was October 15.
I photographed some other birds this morning, and I'll get to that early next week, after I finish The Great Hagerman NWR story below. I usually don't go to the lake on weekends, because there are so many people walking or bicycling down the middle of roads — and there were scads of those today — plus some huge mass of people involved in some race, but I came anyway, to photo the first of season (FOS) American White Pelican, so next year, it will be easier to track down this date.
I'm wondering if I should put this following Hagerman NWR story on its own page.
Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge
We loved seeing our old friend the Black Vultures in a tree set against the still sunrise-colored skies early that morning.
And pleased to see them still right there many minutes later, by the time the sky had turned that lovely shade of blue. It was still cool, and we drove with the windows down long after it wasn't comfortable anymore.
When I aim at one interesting bird and another one slowly materializes in my view, I'd call that an embarrassment of riches, which is kinda what Hagerman is all about, especially early in the morning.
According to Wikipedia, "The term goose applies to the female in particular while gander applies to the male in particular. Young birds before fledging are called goslings. The collective noun for a group of geese on the ground is a gaggle; when in flight, they are called a skein, a team or a wedge; when flying close together, they are called a plump.
And yes, it's true, I know how to spell Canada, as in these gooses, but my fingers generally mangle that word. And no, they are not called Canadian Gooses.
So far, all my Hagerman pix from the Saturday before Labor Day are in chronological order. In order to keep them that way, I'll post new ones on top, till I've posted all that day's birds, then I'll put them back in order, when I start adding birds from other places. I doubt you care, but this reminder is for me.
I always assume whoever was naming herons was drunk or on drugs, because the Little Blue Heron usually isn't blue; the Green Heron is rarely green; and the Great Blue is gray.
And Cattle Egrets don't always hang out around cattle. Here, they're finding plenty to eat in a field.
Only trouble was, when we in The Slider, hove into closer view, most of them flew farther away.
I suspect these are Neotropic Cormorants, but I'm never really sure which variety they are, but I'm pretty sure they are cormorants.
Lots of GBHs at Hagerman, which is properly pronounced hag - er - mon, not the way the guy on NPR pronounced it every time during an interview last week. I asked.
This series may be the best way to show you all what the land- and lake-scape is like at Haggerman, where we visited very early Saturday morning. It was the earliest we've ever got there, including the time we stayed over in Sherman or Dennison or wherever that was. When we arrived on property, the sky was just then brightening and off to the right from our first stop the sun was blazing through some trees and bushes.
It was cool and calm and quiet there, although we encountered about a half dozen other visitors, some obviously going fishing, others — like us — there for the birds.
I had been photographing something else when Anna pointed me at these guys just swimming slowly off the edge of the lake, looking stately, serene and a long way away. When while I was focusing in on them, suddenly they bolted. Running — or hopping, I was too busy keeping them sharp to notice, and now I wonder are they left-right runners or hoppers. Who knows. They were off.
Moving more quickly, they leave an obvious but short-lived trail on the surface of the water.
Until they were in the air, flapping but still close enough to the surface to still see their reflections racing along with them.
Sometimes even touching those reflections.
Up off the lake and into the hills and trees.
Of course, this series leaves out the oil wells and other birds and trees and else, but we'll get to those, too.
Yeah, it looks a little blue, as does the far landscape this early in the day. Something about it being illuminated by the open blue sky above instead of the direct sun.
We saw several Egrets in more than that trees. Every time we hove into their view — especially below them — they'd fly off somewhere. It didn't matter how slow or careful I drove. Even though they were thirty or forty or more feet up in the tree, they'd bolt every single time we'd drive under.
Not that we had much choice. At Hagerman the roads are often on narrow patches of long, thin, thick green on either side spaces. We had no room to make a wider berth, and always, always, all morning, whatever egret would flee at our approach, even when we implored them to just stay put.
I can barely pass up a Great Blue Heron in full view, but never one reflected in such calm, smooth water.
I do feel some responsibility to look up the species of these guys, but not enough to actually do it. If I look up anything this time, it'd be that sparrow-looking bird above.
I don't think I ever shot one of the hundreds of rigs scattered around the lake properties, but they are why Hagerman exists, and why all that huge amount of land is open for birders, hunters, fishers, picnickers, nature-lovers, etc. One of these per somewhat isolated islands connected by long thin roadways usually surrounded by tall weeds and often incognito exotic and other birds.
Anna always gets excited when we see a deer. This is one of those portions of Hagerman where roads run over hills and dales before we plunged off on one of these long narrow roads again. I have a map of the place, but I haven't seen one online, so I may have to post one of their maps myself.
This deer disappeared as we got closer, and this was, like all my shots of Hagerman this time, shot with a legitimate (no equivalents here) 600mm lens, so he's a far big away, but that Silhouette, especially with those ears that far up, is noticeable.
I remember them as white bugs on black water, but point a camera at all black, and you are more than likely to have it render the scene for you as 18% gray, which this is. So my camera was working well, just the photographer was lax in his underexposure duties.
There were thousands, if not millions.
Or, at least, two of them. One in sunlight and the other in deep shade. First-ever for both of us. Anna, as usual, sighted them, but they kept getting farther away as we clickity-clicked after them.
Too quickly sometimes for the best focus...
Had no idea who this bird was when I saw it up there on a pump that wasn't pumping. Had to figure that out much later after several, only sometimes continuous encounters with it. We've always been fascinated by them. Much more so now, as you'll see shortly, although I'm not all that sure this is the same exact bird.
We saw this, and only much later connected the sightings. It would scoot forward away from us, then stop to peer back and wait for us to follow. It stayed on the road, and we pretty much had to. Then it would scoot just barely out of sight, and we'd follow in its tracks. I think these may be the best pix I've ever got of this very elusive bird. Maybe because it wanted its pictures taken.
A tad overexposed leg and bright, white feather-wise, but look at that amazing long tail.
It seemed to act like it was so good at camouflaging that we couldn't possibly see it, and it was right on most of the time, because it blended in so well with whatever was in front of and next to and behind it, but all that he often disappeared, especially looking through the two dimensional viewfinder. But then, at other times we could. Briefly.
Human vision darts around looking for something to focus on, and without a telltale cue, we just can't. Camera lenses focus at just one distance, so when it was focused sharply, like its tail is here, it's difficult to miss. But most of the time, as the bird moved around among the leaves and branches, it was easy.
Before and after each exposure, it would entirely disappear into the tree, branches, limbs, leaves behind, whatever. You got to remember this is not an up-close and personal shot. My tele lens is 600mm. Way back in the Twentieth Century, I used to think a 500mm lens was impossibly, moon-shot long.
And after a few shots, we drove off wondering what it would do next. Go home and tell the family about those weird humans it saw?
Gorgeous bird, despite what they eat and where and how. Fabulous flyers, and I love the little fly buzzing around the buzzard's butt. Wish I coulda got it in focus, too. But I guess it was better to get the bird. Big strong feet look like they could easily shred flesh.å
When we saw it fly across the road we thought we saw blue and hoped it was a Kingfisher, but it's not.
A lot of birds in trees out there.
With a name that long it's amazing he can even fly.
I knew I had a picture of some full sized pumpers in here somewhere. These dark things, usually squealing and screeching and emitting long, low-frequency moans, pepper the landscape at Hagerman.
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text and photographs Copyright 2013 by J
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My favorite answer is, "I don't
am, after all, an amateur.
I've only birded for seven years as of June 2013, although
I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally and
always amateurishly since at least 1964.
Thanks always to Anna.
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