I am not a bird I.D expert. the current Bird Journal is always here. Cameras Used Ethics Feedback My Other Bird Pages: Herons Egrets Heron or Egrets Links & Bird Books Pelican Beak Weirdness Pelicans Playing Catch Rouses Courtship Behaviors Banding Birding Galveston 2015 & 2013 2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds page & the 1st Bald Eagles at White Rock Coyotes JR's resumé Contact Area Bird Resources: Dallas Bird Chat Bird Rescue Info Want to use my photos? How to Photograph Birds Birding Places: Bird-annotated Map of White Rock Lake & Med School Rookery & Village Creek Drying Beds September's Best Pix so far: Snowy Egret Chases Email me. On my other job, I'm an art critic and I review movies, too 155 photos this month.
Maybe a Spotted Sandpiper (without the spots) and a Male (maybe) Belted Kingfisher. Way far out. Shirley Boyd pointed him out to me, thereby reminding me to carefully telephoto scan all the logs and bumps out there every time I visit the Pier at Sunset Bay. FOS = First Of Season. We've been hearing it for a week or two, but this is the first time I've even seen it this season.
Cam was on my tripod, so I might have had a chance to get it even sharper — only if it were closer, which it definitely was not.
I blew (overexposed) all the subsequent photos of this elegant bird flying up the far creek, but this one looks pretty good with two Mallards cluttered into the log the GBH is standing on as it gets its wings going for the flight.
The one on the left is a juvenile. The other is an adult. The juvie looks uncomfortable, but it probably either isn't or doesn't the know the difference.
On the bridge over the Lagoon behind The Old Boat House. Very inquisitive, and within a few feet. About as close as my lens focuses.
Landscapes Photographed Friday September 30
& posted later the same afternoon
Photograph taken down Winfrey Point Drive from the Winfrey Building on Winfrey Point. The blue near the top of the photo is the lake. The really dark green at the top is Dreyfuss Point's land mass.
Taken along DeGoyler Drive (See my Bird-annotated Map of White Rock Lake), where the concrete bars have just bee laid into place the last couple days. I assume they are there to keep drivers from driving onto the grass.
These Parking Chunks either have not yet been fastened to the brick "sidewalk" surface, or drivers have already been messing with them. It was right about here that I realized I was gathering photographs of landscape that might go well in an end of month journal entry, that I will probably sift down under yesterday's entry, so either the Kingfisher or the Great Blue Heron [both below] can then head this month's entries.
This is not "my favorite Boat ramp," it's one of the ramps at Parrot Bay. This fisher person was obviously not pleased to be photographed, but all of us who are in a public area like White Rock Lake can be legally photographed at any time. I understand not wanting to be photographed, but I have often been photographed at White Rock Lake, too. Even when I didn't want to be.
I parked the Slider partway up onto a concrete slab near NW Hwy., so I could get this view and still leave plenty of room on either side of The Slider for the bicyclists, the first one of whom called me a Jackass and told me to get off the Trail. Knowing that bicyclists always obey all traffic rules, I ignored him and got this shot of the grassy area at the parallel of North West Highway and East Lawther Drive near Buckner Boulevard.
Turns out the flags marked parking lanes for a to-do at Flagpole Hill across NW Hwy.
The rows of flags are not nearly as close as shown in this telephoto photograph shot from up the hill very near Northwest Highway. It's more like it appears in the photo one photo above. Anna suggested they were going to have sack races. I though maybe a car lot. Although I have often photographed Cattle Egrets, Kestrels and other hawks there in various seasons.
Pelican Scares Ducks & Coots, Picks Fight with another Pelican
Shot Mid-day & Posted Around Dark September 26
The American Coots are standing up on the right end. The Ducks — I assume Mallards — are perched on the left. Everybody is more or less happy. This is the first time in awhile I have been able to illustrate real bird behavior, because mostly what I've found lately is pretty birds in pretty situations.
Until a pelican I'd just watched leave a log well to the left of this one to strike out on its own.
You can see what happens to both species when they suddenly realize there's an American White Pelican in their midst. Pelicans are well known among other perchers-on-logs to be combative. Pelicans seem to feel that having a really good perching place, even if other birds or other pelicans are already there, is very important to their self-worth.
But once the pelican swims off toward another log, the ducks come back fairly quickly. And the coots follow.
Meanwhile, the wandering pelicans approaches another log perch.
And it flaps and steps up the slant on the right (or north) end of it.
Suddenly it rises. And it could easily take a place to our right of the pelicans who are already there.
But what's the fun in that. I don't think it's any accident that the far end of the wandering pelicans right wing ends up on the beak of the pelican now occupying the perch it has in mind — even if there's plenty of room for it on the end on which it now stands.
So the American White Pelican on the left stands its ground and they begin pointing their beaks at each other.
The Visitor Attacks again.
Our wandering pelican is clearly the aggressor here. It is being belligerent. As American White Pelicans often are in this situation.
But the pelican that was already there has its own style of beaking — and its beak may actually be slightly longer.
Which is how tiffs like this usually end. Pelicans just have to put up a good front, then they nearly always back down and share.
It's only got two of its side-of-the-head dark and light stripes still visible, and right about now those will be disappearing, and that faint now dark brown, vertical black beak stripe will be coming in stronger over the next six months.
A Red-shouldered Hawk, Buncha Robins & About 2 Dozen Pelicans
Shot & Posted September 25
I didn't think of it as a harbinger of autumn when I saw it. I just thought it was pretty.
Every time I pass this bat box I look carefully into the distance to see if there's a bird on top. Last time, at least two years ago by my usually way off count, it was a Kestrel. This bird was probably hatched not terribly far from where it is here perched. Just a few seconds' flight away. I had the devil of a time holding the camera still on Slider's Driver's Side window sill, but at least this one out of fifty shots is sharp. Always nice to get a glint on its eye.
The next day, who seemed very likely the same Red-shouldered Haw was back on the Bat Box again.
Anna tried to explain to it that it was supposed to be the first bird of spring, not autumn.
Better light means better exposure.
500mm was just about perfect for capturing the most interesting parts of the evening sky.
This was my best exposure on pelicans today, but my exposure got more and more over exposed as I got on. With this many pelicans settle in the bay already, it can't be long before there's at least double and maybe triple this number.
And there were three more American White Pelicans on a third log, to a total of at least 21, maybe two full dozen Pelicans in Sunset Bay as of September 25. I'm sure somebody has seen them flying. I'd sure like to. Both of today's pelican pix were shot from Dreyfuss Point across Sunset Bay.
Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-herons,
some Wood Ducks, Monk Parakeets & a Great Egret
Shot September 21, 22 & 23, Posted September 23
GBHs are still my favorite bird, and I can't really explain why anymore. But common as they are, I still get excited every time I see one, and I see one almost every day.
Looks like the GBH stabbed the fish toward its back under-side. Or maybe it "cleaned" it thusly.
GBH's throat extended, so it can swallow a fish bigger than its head.
But which is which?
I really didn't intend to render it blurred like this, but I like it blurring into the jungle.
I missed seeing as many Yellow-crowned Night-Herons as I really would have liked this summer, but Black-crowned Night-Heron fish with their whole families in The Old Boathouse Lagoon.
It is what it is.
I photographed this bird, because it was still kinda dark and this duck was holding very still.
I really like these pix dark.
This is across from The Old Boathouse Lagoon, not far from The Big Hum, where the stupid electric company probably still has signs up proclaiming how the stupid electric company is in such harmony with the parakeets that they tear the parakeet's homes apart every chance they get.
We were in so many places today, I'm not sure where this is.
I liked the idea of them standing nearly next to each other. Even if the GBH is out of focus, because they're really not that close.
I saw it eating something a couple times, but I don't think I ever saw it catching a fish. Learning is.
As I write this this was this morning, and more keep arriving, so maybe by now (4:41 PM), there's even more. I'm really looking forward to there being lots of pelicans out there and flying around and mass fishing and all the things they do that's so distinctive and fun, but I don't think there's enough logs in Sunset Bay for them to all perch upon, so I just don't know.
A Great Egret blurring across Sunset Bay.
Looking for just about any Bird I could find at the Lake
Shot Noonish September 19, Posted that Afternoon
Most of them I did that with didn't work out at all. A lot of way too underexposed and nowhere near focus, but this one turned out pretty much alright. I wasn't expecting them to fly me over directly, so I just didn't have time for the usual niceties. Most of their greens got lost in their shadows, but the sun was pretty much behind them so it showed through their wings and around their beaks, and I'm pretty happy with the whole thing, although this was the only one in a series of about a dozen that worked out at all.
I had no idea she was going to take off. I got her in focus swimming, then she burst into the air.
I was attempting to reacquire focus but concentrating on that, not how she was configuring her various sets of feathers, and when I saw this, I was very pleased indeed. She's low, probably knows exactly where she's going to land.
I was just hanging on for the ride.
I was looking for that same Snowy Egret as I was looking for yesterday. And I found it, but it was not dancing. Only going slowly through the weeds on the parking lot side of the bridge, over where there's usually a fisher-person or two, right next to the boat house itself. Except it was in the water, so I kept photographing whatever I could find.
After I'd posted most of the rest of these, I looked back through to see what I could find that might be worth adding, and I found this. Not like catching a Great Egret in flight is anything unusual, just it is such a fine example of exposure and form and focus.
I also found this collection of birds whom I originally assumed were Snowy Egrets or juvenile somethings, but that reddish hairdo marks them as distinctly Cattle Egrets, who come to Sunset Bay late in the season sometimes, and they are usually overlooked, because they look so much like regular old — or new — egrets.
The outer reaches of Sunset Bay, which is much safer for them, but the early arrivers usually stay out there till there's way too many of them to only perch as far out as they can get. Kala photographed five at 10 ayem.
Birds can move any feather on their body, and they know the rules of aerodynamics better than any pilot, only a very few of whom can move and part of their wings. See the ruffling of the upper and outer edges of their wings that let them slow down …
… Till almost touchdown. Notice the variety of turtles on the log. And the fact that the bird will likely not land on any turtle, will most assuredly land between them.
Looking for a Dancing Snowy Egret Around the Lake
Shot September 18 & Posted that Evening
I had hoped to catch stop-action pix of the dancing Snowy Egret Anna and I had seen Saturday morning, but 2 p.m. was way too late for that hungry white dancer. Luckily, there was a Great Blue Heron there to photo.
Got in my car and drove toward the noisy trees full of parakeets, from whence these parakeets sporadically dropped down for a drink.
I stayed in the car, so I wouldn't frighten them away.
The noisy trees are a fool's game to try to photograph parakeets in. Too much tree and so little the birds.
Then I moved to the Pier at Sunset Bay, where, even when I show up at the worst possible time of day for birds, I always find birds worth photographing.
Photographed from the Pier at Sunset Bay, where it was plenty hot, and I hadn't wanted to lug my tripod since the light was bright. But it really might have helped I was waving that camera around so much. So I just kept shooting.
Stretching neck up so it could preen around its shoulders. This was photographed out the driver's window of The Slider, though I was still not quite able to hold it as still as I would have liked.
Who are especially dear to me since I named my Prius after the species in late 2010.
Birds @ The Spillway, Then @ The Old Boathouse Lagoon
Shot September 17 & Posted early afternoon the same day
When I drive by The Lower Spillway, the way I can tell if there are birds on The Lower Steps is if there are birds in the trees overlooking that area. This assured me there would be, and there were. Probably would have been a lot more if several guys hadn't been standing on the slanted concrete down there illegally fishing. I don't have a cellphone, but someone who did called the police.
Something flies over close enough, I click at it and hope. Hope the exposure is close enough so I can bring out its features. This one was very right. I was even able to pull its eye out of the under-a-flying-bird darkness.
Way behind is the Winfrey Building on Winfrey Point, which is where are the lighter green trees and hills on the left in this pic. Behind that off to the left at water level, but not seen here, is Sunset Bay, it being an innie and Winfrey and other points, outies.
I knew who they were by their looks and sounds. They were honking like Canada Geese honk. I first heard that sound in a movie more than fifty years ago. It sounded like a cocktail party to the person being moved blindfolded and tied up somewhere they didn't want to go. It was Canada Gooses, whose sounds were a big part of figuring out where the hostage had been. It takes more than four of them to make a cocktail party sound, but it is distinctive.
The blurs at the bottom of this pic are from shooting too close through the wrought-iron fence along The Spillway, because I was so excited about photographing the very birds I'd hoped to see there today.
Kala had emailed me a couple days before this that there were 14 Canada Gooses down on The Upper Spillway, but by three when I read my email and skedaddled to the Spillway, they were gone. I do not know whether these four, who have often been seen in Sunset Bay, were a subset of that fourteen or a separate group.
I have several times lately photographed four of them together, so I assume they are a family, since Canada Goose families tend to stay together for the first couple years. See this same Canada Goose family below and lower on this month's page.
While these four familiar Canada Gooses were flapping back to fly me over again, I kept clicking and hoping.
I photographed the four at every step along the way, but this was the sharpest single bird, so it's here.
I'd seen the sculpture when Anna and I walked up to the dam more than a week ago. But the view looking down is not as interesting as this view looking across the dam.
From the Spillway, Anna and I drove our separate cars over to The Old Boat House area, where I assume there would be birds. There was also a runner station for the race that closed Sunset Bay to us earlier. I don't think I've ever photographed this walking bridge from this angle before, but I have very often stood on the bridge and photographed birds up and down that lagoon.
There were also hundreds of runner racing across the bridge while we attempted to photograph birds there, so picking the right moment to go click was very difficult, and often even in the right moments, the images were blurred. But ya always have to contend with something.
Handsome galoot, even with all those vivid warts. I assume this is one of those Muscovies forcibly moved from one of the Park Cities recently.
I got pix of it jumping and twisting and chasing food, but all those were overly over-exposed and this one was not. When it got closer to whatever was in the tops of this bunch of bushes, it struck out and got whatever it was, jerked it back down its throat, and went on hunting and dancing.
I must have tried to get it fairly sharp as far away as it was twenty or thirty times, while the runners shook the bridge with every step, but this one was just sharp enough to show here. I think it's unusual to find Green Herons at the lake in September, but I've been finding them a lot lately.
Last time I guessed at one of these's sex with these facial markings I guessed wrong, because its beak colors were already orange-ing toward red. This one's is not, and its wing feathers sure look like a female, but the chin and strap up from its chin sure look like a male. But at least I got its eye really sharp.
The "Mudder" Fought The Bog, and The Bog Nearly Won
The Slider is my car. I attempted to turn around on the two-lane blacktop that is Winstead across from Winstead Parking Lot adjacent to The Lower Spillway. I was hoping to park behind Anna's car there, but instead I got caught in the bog and could not get The Slider out, even though I thought I was an excellent mudder.
Luckily, a guy on a bicycle saw me get into the bog and we tried a couple things first, then he pushed mightily on the engine-heavy front end, but could not get it to move through the muck. Then a truckload of people passed by, saw my plight, parked, then walked back and all together were able to move The Slider out, slinging mud every which way. Thank you all, so very much.
Birds in and between the Big Cages @ Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation
Shot September 12 & Posted 'round 8 pm September 14
Every time I go to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation I spent a few minutes among the big cages out back with rehabilitating birds, who also have the run of the place. Great Blue Herons nest in the tall trees above as well as on the tops of cages there. They are generally benign visitors and some have the run of the place. It's the only place I know where I can get within a few short feet of my favorite bird species, without causing any agitation. They are used to people.
I think this Great Egret was in a big cage, but I'm really not sure.
I am also very fond of Black Vultures, which I think this is one of, but it never showed its whole face. It never unfolded, may not be capable of unfolding. It was very frightened, so after a few quick shots, I left it alone.
A bunch of turkeys on a crisscross ground.
One barn owl against a seemingly wavy-line striped background. It's not really flying, just clinging to the screen.
Back to Sunset Bay to Check Out the Season's First Pelican
Shot mid-afternoon September 11 & Posted Later that Day
This shot was not the first shot, however. That distinction belongs to Anna Galvan. I was going to link to her Facebook Page, so you could see it, but I couldn't see it there, because although we are friends, I have have not codified that friendship on Fb. So I had to go and photograph it on my own. This configuration of logs is the farthest-out in Sunset Bay, where this first pelican was nice enough to pose for us, although I had to wait several minutes for it to stop preening so it could.
I do not believe, however, that this is the first American White Pelican in Sunset Bay this year. Back several months I photographed one flying over and looking down and around the area, looping around up there at least once before it flew away. But there are places in Texas where American White Pelicans stay all year. The only example of that I am certain of — because I've seen them in full summer, is San Antonio's Mitchell Lake.
This is not at all unusual. Great Blue Herons fly this way and the other often out there every day. And whenever I see one doing that, I attempt to photograph. I do not, however, always get them in this good focus or with such a distinguished background.
One foot down already; the other closely following into the log. All my shots of it flying in were way fuzzier than this. Last summer we had Green Herons in Sunset Bay early and late. This year, mostly just late.
On the same log I photographed the first American White Pelican on just a few minutes earlier. Then I couldn't see it at all, and Erin told me "she was out there swimming around."
Part of the dozen or so that got left off at Sunset Beach earlier this summer from near The Tollway, where they were making their usual nuisance of themselves.
Another example of a very common bird seen often in Sunset Bay.
What We Thought would be Our Last Trip to the Rookery This Year
Shot early September 11 & September 12 & Posted that Night
Sunday Mid-morning, Anna and I visited The SW Medical School Rookery to see who might be left there. There were very few birds visible, but this was probably the most visible.
And this was the only Great Egret I saw there. Usually — and earlier in the season — there are hundreds, if not thousands in the woods between buildings at the SW Medical School Rookery.
After exploring the woods, we — as we usually do — went up to the top of the free five-story parking garage on the street that passes by the rookery woods, across from the basketball court. We go there to see birds flying, often very close — but also — very often far away — from the parking garage. We didn't see nearly as many birds as we usually do, but there were these two Killdeer.
It's fairly unusual to see a bird lying down, although I have seen Great Egrets doing it around their New Year's dances, but never — I think — Killdeers before.
Such handsome birds.
The Attempted Rescue of the
Injured Cattle Egret the Next Day
By the next day, Anna had decided she needed to find out just how injured was the Cattle Egret [above] we had seen at the Rookery the day before. Her plan was to gently chase it, to see if it could fly. As you can see in this rather out-of-focus shot of it, it could not. That left wing rendered it unable to flap on that side, so once it got a couple feet off the ground, it flew awkwardly and sometimes upside-down.
So she collected it from the middle of the road's pavement, while attempting to elude that extra-sharp beak. But she got stabbed several times …
… before she got it all in her hands. The guy in the black car behind her was laughing as he attempted to leave the parking lot.
I'd brought a smallish box that gave it plenty of room inside, and Anna brought a large towel, so it would have a soft place to rest in there on our way to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation in Hutchins, just south of Dallas.
Along to way from the Rookery, I peeked inside to check on the young Cattle Egret's progress. Note the Angel's Wing feathers so out of place on its left side. When Anna picked it up, she noticed how very thin the little bird was. Under the feathers, it was skinny as a rail, and it probably had not eaten in awhile.
He thought it would be reparable. She's holding the bird firmly by the upper neck, so it doesn't use that sharp beak to stab its potential rescuers. It got me once while I was balancing the cardboard box of it in the car south from Dallas. They impale their food-sources with that ever-so-sharp beak, and I can vouch that it hurts.
We left it with the Rogers Crew, who said there was a good chance they cold repair the wing; Anna left the preferred donation; and we drove home feeling positive. Later, Anna learned that the wing was irreparable, and the young egret, who never had a chance, had been put down. We were both sad, and Anna wondered if we had taken it the day before, might it have lived.
Big Birds: Great Egrets and Canada Geese
Shot early September 11, Posted that Afternoon
The VA's got me on some idiot pill that puts me to sleep for 16-18 hours a day, so I have barely enough wake time to eat and answer my email. They keep promising I'll get used to it, but it ain't happened after three weeks, and I have a feeling it ain't gonna. Still they insist I keep taking it.
The pic of it landing on the log ahead of it here is so ordinary I didn't choose to use it here.
The four Canada Gooses are still rather well known here, even though they are scattered around many area lakes and ponds. They're still celebrities here.
They'd been swimming around a lot earlier, but at about this time they'd decided to go north a bit and see what could be seen.
And a few minutes later, they came back. Maybe they just needed some exercise.
I was having trouble with focus till about this point.
And finally nailed it by the time they'd all three touched down, skidding along the surface of the lagoon.
At least I call it The Sunset Lagoon. It connects off to the right with a creek.
It's a different Great Egret than the one that was landing at the top of today's journal entry, but it's kinda nice to begin and end with the most commonly-seen big white bird at the lake.
Birds in Sunset Bay at Evening Feeding
Shot Late September 6, Posted Midday September 7
Yes, they're still here. Or if they left for awhile, they're back.
In all their signature beauty. Kala King, who often helps me correctly identify birds here, says the one with iridescent green should be the male.
Joining the nightly feed — when Bird Squaders gather on Sunset Beach and throw wheat bread and crackers, then Roy and Charles arrive to pour long mounds of grain corn every evening about this time.
I don't remember photographing Wood Ducks at this age before. Most of them don't live that long. Here we can see the facial patterns forming. I assumed it was a female, but Kala says it's a male beginning to show his markings. I wondered about that faintly orange beak.
And the Can Gooses keep on coming in. Most of my subsequent shots of them swimming in were complexified by other birds crowding toward shore, so I didn't get back to them till they were onshore and up the hill where Anne sits feeding the ducks and gooses.
Somewhat later, after dawdling on or just off the shore, the Canada Goose join the eating fray.
And warn others off. As if their comparative size and girth weren't enough.
I should have focused on the eyes, not the beak, but not bad considering it was fairly close, and I was wielding a long telephoto. I'm lucky for any focus at all at that range.
Like everybody else there then, they come for the feeding.
Better exposure shows that what we usually see as 'the white area' is actually tan.
More Feeding Time Images Coming Soon …
Birds on The Upper Spillway
Shot September 3, Posted Late September 4
Up early to do some walking, Anna and I photographed birds along the Upper Spillway. Here, are a Great Egret and a Great Blue Heron limping with its left foot full of seaweed that wanted to stay put on the floor of the spillway.
With two Mallards.
At least, it seems awkward to me as a single shot. Actually, however, it was a long, fairly slow, continuous motion that put it down right where it wanted.
Early morning sunlight on the Egret and the far wall.
It doesn't look like this could be the Great Blue Heron with the sea weeded foot, but it is. Stay tuned …
According to my Lone Pine Birds of Texas, "Least Sandpipers are the smallest North American shorebirds, but their size does not deter them from performing migratory feats. Like most other 'peeps,' many Least Sandpipers migrate from the Arctic to the southern tip of South America and back. … These tiny shorebirds begin moving south as early as the first week of July, so they are some of the first sandpipers to arrive back in Texas for winter."
The Audubon Guide to North American Birds says, "On sandy riverbanks, lake shores, and edges of sewage treatment ponds, little flocks of Least Sandpipers fly up to circle the area and then settle again, giving thin, reedy cries as they go."
I kept getting sidetracked by the rowers, forgetting the birds, but I came back.
I'm fascinated with, among so many other things, birds flying together — even when they look like they all want to go their separate ways.
If you look carefully, you can see that there's a white bird a little smaller than this Great Blue Heron hidden behind the outer lower fringes of this heron, but they soon separated:
The Great Blue Heron headed for the dam and the Great Egret seemed headed for the East side of the lake.
The Usual Suspects in Sunset Bay
Shot September 2, Posted Early September 3
I saw Eric photographing this egret from Sunset Beach as I drove in, so I walked down the hill and joined him. Eric said the egret had caught four fish while he watched. I didn't stay long enough to see it catch anything. We also saw, but were unable to photograph, because they were so fast, then gone quickly — a pair of Cooper's Hawks, very possibly the juveniles hatched and raised in Sunset and on Winfrey this summer. Besides, they were mostly flying behind the screen of trees along 'the spit' just across the creek.
I spent most of today's bird-photographing time in my favorite place in the known universe, the pier at Sunset Bay. And though I didn't see much unusual, it was very, very pleasant there, and I just shot the usual suspects. I've been calling whatever Great Blue Heron (GBH) occupied the bay close-in "the Bay Gray" for many years, and yes, of course, I realize it may well be a different bird from time to time, although Great Blue Herons have lived as long as 24 and a half years, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. That page also includes a variety of GBH facts, several which I did not know.
Much farther off to the left (west) from the pier is usually another Great Blue Heron, although sometimes it occupies what's left of the log that used to actually have a tree growing (It didn't die for a couple years.) on it. Occasionally, there are several GBHs in the bay. Sometimes they chase each other. Sometimes they invite the whole family. But usually there's just one, maybe two.
No mystery, really, just that it looks stranger than most wood ducks. Probably because of its turned-around posture with head twisted, probably preening. But Wood Ducks often look like somebody else.
I shot this pair that Shirley Boyd and I were investigating carefully from the pier at Sunset Bay. She was using her binoculars and I my camera/lens. She thought they might be the Chiloé Wigeons who'd been visiting for awhile. I couldn't tell much with my eye sight alone, and I didn't know. So I just kept photographing them (9 times) till I got a shot that showed both heads and 'faces' clearly, and with the image significantly enlarged, I can now tell they are older juvenile Wood Ducks.
The second duck from the right is the only bird here I'm not sure of. It does look a lot like a Wood Duck, though. So let's enlarge it somewhat:
At this size, it sure looks like it has those usual Wood Duck facial patterns.
From the National Wildlife Federation's webpage for Wood Ducks: "Sides of the face are black with white stripe along the neck. A small white stripe extends up each cheek" and "The males do not have the decorative markings all year-round. They use the colorful marking to attract females during the breeding season that runs from autumn until the early summer. In the late summer, they grow gray feathers with blue markings on the wings and white markings on the face and neck."
I'm pretty sure it's a Wood Duck, but I don't know its age. I'd guess young.
Blue sky, blue water, elegant white birds floating in the air.
More simplified elegance.
The trees are on this side of Dreyfuss, pretty close to the point. The crows were cawing all the way.
Couldn't do a proper usual suspects roundup without pix of cormorants. I didn't really want the bicyclist, but there he suddenly appeared when I finally got everything else lined up and in focus. I love the lush setting that is Sunset Bay, and the best place to back off and shoot it seems to be from Dreyfuss Point. I took some other pix from over there, but this was the only one that was any good.
Mostly Snowy Egrets Chasing Each Other on The Spillway's Lower Steps
Shot the last day of last month & posted noon ish the first of this
These are my fave shots of the evening, and by then it really was getting dark quickly. Some of today's chase scenes are arranged chronologically, so they make more sense. As if. But most are not. I really wanted to put these two on top. And now I think I ought to delete more of the shots below. I'm trying to get where I only show ten-to-twelve pix per journal entry.
The trouble with deleting pix after I've written the text, is that it no longer flows — assuming it ever does. In future, I have to place the pix into my web-page-maker first — as usual. Then edit them before I start writing. Another issue is that what I shoot first to establish the scene sometimes ends up at the bottom [below] of that day's entry and kinda makes chronology confusing.
These two are definitely my favorites of this bunch. And no, I don't think what we see here is sex. That season was several months ago, and birds usually honor those seasons. This is just pure Snowy on Snowy aggression. The one on the right is flying low, trying to escape.
It was darkish when I started, and it got darker as I shot for a total of maybe about twenty sweaty minutes. Though it may not look all that dark in these pix. I probably should have opened up the f-stop from my usual f8 to f5.6, but I love having more than just one bird in focus, so sometimes they blur. I kept thinking I could go back the next day, but I don't see any reason to do that now, since a lot of these look very good indeed.
While I stood up on the bridge on my little, blue, Kid's folding plastic step, looking down over the side, I rarely stopped shooting for very long. The action was intense, and often what looked like it was going to be another chase or battle, did not. But sometimes while I was already clicking, another chase started. I like this one, because nearly nothing is happening here except the Snowy in the middle with its crown up and wings spread.
Everybody else is just minding their own business.
Generally both species of Egrets can coexist in close proximity with others of that species and others of other species. Unless. of course, one of the species is Snowy Egrets, who are abnormally combative. All bets are off if one of the birds is seen to be getting more than its fair share of fish, pretty much regardless of almost any other factor. Then fights and chases ensue.
Among themselves, Snowies can keep a fight up until they get exhausted. The pissier they get, the more feathers they add to their I-am-so-fierce look. If it's between a Snowy and a Great Egret, the Great generally wins, because they are bigger. But not always, so Snowy Egrets keep at it sometimes when they really should not.
I only saw one Great aggress upon another species today, when it charged where a Black-crowned Night-Heron had been peacefully standing for a long time. Then suddenly the Night-heron was gone, replaced by the Great. Size has its privileges.
It always seems odd that the birds who get upset and chase other birds catch far fewer fish than those who just stand there and fish. But it must be the way of the world. It's almost always Snowy Egrets who start these chases, and they are by far better fisher birds than most other species. They obviously like to get angry and chase. Even while everybody else is catching fish.
Often — during this shoot — I just leaned on the shutter button whenever something seemed to be beginning, and pulled my finger up off the button a second or so later, then that particular action stopped. I shot more than 300 exposures today. And only kept 62, from which I posted these 16. I wanted to show just ten, but I couldn't decide which other two to throw away. Ten to a dozen shots a day would be easier one me — once the editing's done — and make for quicker downloads. It's always difficult for photographers to choose. Everybody else, too, probably.
Things were moving really fast down there, and I knew from the beginning that it was getting dark and darker.
Sometimes I captured actual chases. Sometimes I just got what looked like might erupt into a chase. Clickety-click-click.
Snowy Egrets are the little ones with black legs and beaks and yellow feet. Great Egrets are the much larger variety with yellow beaks, black legs and feet. Reflected in the water below are: L to R: fences back lighted with sunshine, columns and girders holding up the walking and driving bridges along Garland Road.
All of today's shots except this were taken from The Walking Bridge parallel to the driving bridge on Garland Road at the bottom of The Spillway, where water over the dam and around Egret Island abruptly turns left toward the Samuell-Grand Municipal Golf Course eventually to go under I-30. This was taken from the sidewalk from Winstead Parking Lot to the bridge — or near there.
Shot from the bridge, up through the trees of Egret Island to the Upper Spillway and the Dam. The trees on the top are on the other side of the lake. Oh, usually I shoot with my 300 and a 1.7X extender. Today, because the light was diminishing rapidly, I shot with just the 300. That comparatively wider view gave us all these trees this time out.
Except as noted, all text and photographs Copyright 2016 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.