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Annotated Map of White Rock Lake

with Bird Species Listings

from J R Compton's Amateur Birders's Journal,
with local bird photos updated at least three times a week.

All Contents Copyright 2014 and before by J R Compton
All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any form without written permission.

Index of Journal Pages     Click on map to learn about that place and what birds have been seen there.

Last updated November 26, 2014

New White Rock Lake Map (Google) Mockingbird Bridge Singing Bridge dog park Thistledown Meadows Bent Bridge Cormorant Bay Green Heron Park Tilley's Point Parrot Bay Boat House new Boat House Yacht Clubs Big Thicket Dreyfuss Point Arboretum Drive DeGoyler Drive (Arboretum) Mockingbird Hill tee pee hill the fitchery The Hum is an electric substation

map from Google Maps

Places are arranged geographically, not alphabetically. You can click somewhere on the map above and be transported to the right place in the list of names and descriptions below. We made up some names; took others from common usage over the years; and some are official.

The bird lists are a work in progress. Most of the birds are in photos on The Monthly Bird Journal pages. To find specific mentions or images of a species, use the Google Search of My Sites to find the words, and the photos will follow. Beware, since it's a search of all my sites, some findings may be about art or poetry instead of birds. I keep adding species to the lists as I remember old ones or encounter new ones. And some of those pages are very slow load, so give it time.

Place Names & Birds Seen

White Rock Trail used to be a continuation of the Walking/Biking Path around White Rock Lake, starting north, across Mockingbird Lane at the corner of Mockingbird and Lawther, the street that goes almost all the way around the lake. Well, it used to. After the fire department couldn't find the Dreyfus building until after it burned to the ground, The City changed the name of Lawther in several places around the lake. The Trail continues through mostly green spaces, hospitals and businesses to a little north of LBJ Freeway. Quite a walk.

White Rock Creek - from at or just north of Mockingbird Bridge to just north of LBJ Freeway. See Up the Creek with a Paddle, continuing south of the Spillway and Spillway Steps through the dark green area on the map that is the golf course, under I-30 and beyond. I should probably note that the phrase "White Rock Creek" also applies to many other short and long creeks in and around Dallas, Texas. It's become such a popular name, it hardly means anything anymore.

Mockingbird Bridge - There used to be a wide bicycling path marked in yellow with road humps across the south side of the bridge that still takes Mockingbird Lane across the north end of White Rock Lake. I suspect there were many accidents. Bicyclers are not known for following rules, stopping at stop signs or lights, going the right way on one-way streets, yielding or those other traffic niceties. Now walkers and some bikers take the Singing Bridge. Others risk suicide against the sometimes bizarre auto traffic on Mockingbird, but the narrow sidewalks on either side offer interesting views of the lake below and creek above (north) the bridge.. Back to map.

See Singing Bridge (below) for a list of birds seen in that area.

Pelican Island - small floating island under and protruding south from Mockingbird Bridge. It's been called that since at least the 1980s. Our annual visit from American White Pelicans used to center their activitiesthere. Now they spend most of their social, preening, daylight and evening rest time in Sunset Bay, scouting out in all directions. The island disappears in high water, but I've never seen a pelican there, although they sometimes fish that area in large, Esther Williams-style synchronized-swimming groups, and I've often seen them fly over. map

Black- and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Double-crested Cormorants, Muscovy Ducks, Ruddy Ducks can sometimes be seen from the bridge diving, Mallards and various gulls. Before the Dog Park was developed on the other side of the bridge, there were many Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets along the shore on the far left.

Singing Bridgesinging-copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Singing Bridge

Singing Bridge - The biking and walking bridge immediately south of Mockingbird Bridge. I call it "singing," because in any wind, the whole thing hummed loudly — you could feel the wood boards and metal braces vibrating. But they fixed it, so it doesn't sing anymore.  

Not to be confused with the rhythmic but mostly silent, queasy-uneasy shaking most of the suspension-type walking bridges experience during and just after joggers or walkers or even bicyclists cross the bridge. The motion sometimes makes stomachs queasy and careful photography impossible except at bridge joints where two spans join. The only White Rock Lake Walking bridge that does not waver is Garland bridge, although the Bent Bridge is not as shaky. map

Usually, there are not many birds there. I have seen a few American White Pelican flyovers, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Muscovy Ducks, Black- and Yellow-crowned Night Herons. Sometimes Great Blue Herons (big gray) stand under the trees on the far (west) side left in the photo above, and very often there's a Great Egret (big white) fishing under the car bridge, especially on the west side — unless somebody's let their dogs loose to swim there, in which case no birds will be in sight. Dogs are supposed to be on leashes, but usually are not, and nobody seems to care. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are common in the tall weeds up the hill (visible at the bottom of the photograph above) in late spring and summer, and I have seen a Baltimore Oriole nest in one of the shorter trees to the left of this view of the bridge.

Dog Park - stinky protrusion where we're most likely to find dogs off leashes, although it's normal, albeit illegal, all around the lake. Few doggers pick up their poop, and through City design or individual human neglect, loose dogs are occasionally seen chasing — and catching — birds in the water. map

Same birds as the Singing Bridge area above, except many more cormorants south to Cormorant Bay, especially in autumn and winter.

Thistledown Road in 2005

Thistledown Road in 2001 — unleashed dogs are still common there,
but the tall weeds, amazing biodiversity and thistles are long gone.

Thistledown Meadows - The walking path around the Dog Park area was once publicized for its "natural" meadows. Not anymore. The City destroyed all the Thistle and other exotic plants the place was ripe with. It smelled better before and was colorful and wildly beautiful with a remarkable variety of plant life, and a serene sense of separation.

I once saw Passion Flowers (the rare squat ones that puff out from the ground) growing there. But since its northern portion became a dog park with normal and continuous implementation of the City's Habitat Destruction Machines, the plant life along that shoreline have been normalized down to deadly boring with a concrete path. map

It's been so long since I've enjoyed being there that I don't remember any birds but Great Blue Herons along the east edge, and egrets near the point of the south shore, although those rarely show up since the urbanization of what probably only I called Thistledown Meadows. Lots of cormorants, of course, in autumn and winter, since that once-wild and trail-free area borders Cormorant Bay, just below.

Bent Bridge - on Lawther south of the so-called Biker's Parking Lot (one of only two lots on the lake that you have to drive over gravel to get to). Unlike all other lake walking bridges, it's gray and incorporates a bend in the middle. It was intended to keep heavy walking traffic from further destroying the shore, which gets seriously thinner over the years. A park bench still sits on the west, land side of the bridge, though it is much less used now, since mostly what you can see from there is the bridge. map

Cormorants a plenty, gulls and terns of many species, Great Blue Herons, egrets, coots, Mallards, grebes. Canvas Back and Ruddy ducks in their breeding splendor in mid spring.

Free Advice - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Free Advice Sign

Cormorant Bay - All winter, hundreds (perhaps thousands) of black Double-crested Cormorants perch in the trees around the upper edges of the bay. They basically do two things up there, dry their wings from swimming and diving into the lake, and scat.

When it's cold, that area has the pungent stench of cormorant scat, which turns the sidewalks, grass and trees so white it looks like snow. Especially noticeable at night, there's a loud hiss as the stuff falls through the air and trees and splats on the ground. Wear a hat or walk fast, and hold your nose. It's probably the best place in the park to photograph cormorants flying. map

Same as Bent Bridge above, which is in Cormorant Bay.

Green Heron Park - updated earlier this century to include a stone bridge over the creek I've watched families out in the creek slamming away at some poor snake in. I didn't want to call it Dead Snake Park, but I've often seen Green Herons there, so I called it that. I named it after a Green Heron who hunted among the reeds. It had been there for several years, and I have seen it on the periphery since. I doubt it approved of all the new concrete. I sure don't, but in 2013 I saw a Green Heron along the edge of the lake just north of that park..

Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons along the wet edges; Green Heron(s) there and in the creek. American White Pelicans and Cormorants off the shore, hundreds of Redwing Blackbirds in the reeds around the pier, ducks, etc. In winter, Bufflehead ducks can often be seen off shore from there south to Parrot Bay.


I have finally settled on the name, Free Advice Point, because more people identify with the occasional presence of guys on a blanket or in a small tent there offering free advice. When they are there, there's a sign. There used to be more benches there than anywhere at the lake, but the City pulled most of them out and replaced them with handicap-accessible picnic tables, although the benches were much more comfortable and faced the water. The Point is almost directly across the lake from the Bath House Cultural Center.

Grackles, cormorants, Great Egrets, American Coots; I've seen pelicans on a log well out from there, and others swim by sometimes. Various gulls and terns fly by.

Parrot Bay - Mistakenly named for the green Monk Parakeets that fly across the bay several times a day, this area has been called that since at least the 1980s, and many argue that they are too parrots. Even KERA-FM's Everything You Ever Wanted to Know repeatedly claims they are parrots. But they are not. They are largish Parakeets. map

There are three separate environments on the various sides of this diverse bay:

North has tall trees and a big parking lot with a boat launch, small fishing pier and lots of gulls, coots, egrets and occasional pelicans.

South has more tall trees, hilly grass and two creeks running through with coots, egrets and a resident Kingfisher pair who race around screaming their staccato cry before diving in the water for food.

And the West end has zillions of reeds right down to the water where Great Blue Herons and egrets hide, and Red-winged Blackbirds flock while American White Pelicans sometimes swim through looking for fish. On hot summer nights, the area is alive with a symphony of frogs and insects aplenty. We often stop along the bay side of the access road, a little toward the road from the porta-potties just to listen to Nature's symphony, which is especially loud after a heavy rain.

Boat House Laggoon from Across the Lake - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Boat House and Lagoon from Garland Road near Bent Bridge Across the Lake

Boat House Lagoon - The Boat House used to be a boat house, where fishermen and others parked their boats. Then for decades it was a favorite (but dangerous — lots of concrete right angles and murky water) interior fishing area. Now it looks like an all-White enclave for rich people with fancy rowing boats and one conspicuous motorboat, whose motor is probably larger than the legal limit of horsepower allowed on White Rock Lake. map.

In the grass along this side of the boathouse in the photograph above, I once watched and photographed a Great Blue Heron deftly strip more than a dozen fish from an absent fisher-person's line. It's a regular haunt for the parakeets who live in the Big Hum (electric substation) up the hill from the dam.

There used to be many more Yellow-crowned Night Herons (till a resident of the nearby, upper-crust neighborhood cleared their informal rookery on his property, but now it's mostly Black-crowns. Several Wood Duck pairs raise young in the lagoon on the far side almost every spring.

American White Pelicans visit there and even spend the night sometimes, large white shapes like specters in early morning mists. Great Egrets spend early mornings there, and. I once photographed a Summer Tanager speeding up the lagoon.

The Big Hum - The Electric Substation that literally hums is

where between dozens to hundreds of green Monk Parakeets reside. The number varies by the weather, and the wind, but mostly by how many of the domiciles the electric company has recently destroyed. There are official signs claiming that they live harmoniously with the parakeets, but it's a sham. The 'keets crowd the area around the electric wires and thingamajigs that either keep the parakeets warm or happy. See Wildlife Damage Management for more about the issue, which is widespread, and not just around here.

Tee Pee Hill - Until early 2014 I never considered Tee Pee Hill a separate area from The New Boat House, and I rarely go there for birds, but birds are there, and I'll start listing them here:

Hawks of several sorts, cormorants, Great Blue Herons. I can't think of anywhere at the lake where American Coots don't sometimes gather.

The New Boat House - is bigger than the old one, and I wonder what use it is. It does reflect a lot of light and even from the east side of the lake, it can be blinding when the sun is low. Its parking lot seems to be the official parking area for exclusive parties in the Filter Building, matching red brick and center in the photo below.

Pumphouse from Garland Road - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Left to right: The Pump House at the North End of the Dam, The Filter Building and New Boat House from Garland Road. The Big Hum is up the hill and past the woods almost directly behind the Filter Bldg. The pier that's barely visible at the extreme far right is a favorite place for fisher persons, Great Egrets, various sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, and has been closed and fenced-off for years and years.

The Pump House - used to be where Dallas water was pumped out of the lake. Most of our potable water now comes from much further away, and the Old Pump House building has become exclusive offices for civil servants. Closed to the public and lately policed by rent-a-cops who prohibit overt photography of the dam for idiot Homeland Security reasons, to protect us all from the terrorists who have not yet learned how to use Google Maps.

The Dam - holds back a lot of water, letting a controlled amount sluice through the wide Spillway Area, where it turns a sharp left angle south into White Rock Creek. There was once (and are eventual plans for a replacement) walking bridge directly over the the dam, connecting the dam walkway with the all-concrete flood-watching area along Garland Road that got washed away a few years ago in our latest "100-year flood" that happens about every decade. It took years to replace that little park, and its tiny parking lot has been replaced by a much larger version downstream on Winstead Drive. map

Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, grackles, starlings, cormorants, sandpipers, Little Blue Herons, Sandpipers, Killdeer and other peeps of many varieties, ducks galore, even eagles have been seen in and over the area.

Fitchery (The Old Fish Hatchery Area) - used to be a fish hatchery of large rectangular "pans" of water for raising fish (the light rectangles on the map above). It's probably the best area around the lake to find wildlife — both animals — including beaver, foxes, rabbits, some middle-sized wild cats, coyotes and a wide variety of birds. It's where many Audubon Bird Tours start. It is beautiful and dense with tall trees. Only trouble is the paths don't necessarily go where you want, and some don't go anywhere at all. Poison Ivy grows wild all over the northern part toward the Pump House. And there's all those branches and leaves blocking our avian photographic views. map.

The Fitchery (Anna Palmer renamed it that) is beautiful, though stifling in summer, a little dangerous with those pans of water and not much to keep the clumsy from falling in, is home to countless birds. I've heard that Black-bellied Whistling Ducks raise their cute little black & white striped, downy young there. I've often seen egrets and herons, woodpeckers, starlings, robins, red-wings, grackles, titmice, Mallards and many other species. Various woodpeckers can be heard, seen and sometimes photographed.

It's where I photographed Bart the Barred Owl, and not far away are various Red-tailed and other hawk varieties.

The Spillway - spills water along a long concrete apron between land areas. After it sluices southwest down the spillway, water is splashed suddenly in a left angle southeast down the Spillway Steps, emptying into White Rock Creek (the south end) that escapes over a couple of picturesque water falls through the golf course and out under I-30. There are several distinct creeks called White Rock Creek in Dallas, and this is the one of them that is actually fed by White Rock Lake. map.

Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons (adult, juvenile and 1st spring), Tricolored Herons, Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons and juveniles, both Double-crested and Neotropic cormorants, pigeons (of course, they live under the bridge), sandpipers, acres of Ring-billed Gulls during the winter, flittering Barn Swallows, Black and Turkey Vultures, and many more species fly over the area. My Bald Eagle was seen flying there, also, although I photographed it across the lake at Winfrey Point.

water vapor rising below the Spillway Steps

Water Subliming from the Spillway Steps

Spillway Steps - directly west of the Spillway, where water courses down, surges south over a series of concrete steps to exit under the walking and automobile bridges on Garland Road into White Rock Creek. In spring and now that the City's finally finished fixing the Spillways "retaining walls" that fell in spring of 2006's 100-Year-Flood (after they let the area between dirt and concrete repeatedly fill with water), The City blamed the flood. I blame the City which lamely filled the obvious sink holes with dirt, while the water sluiced down between the concrete and the earth, practically guarantying the walls would fall, and they did.), it's the lake's best and most accessible area for photographing birds — except maybe around the pier in Sunset Bay. map.

Now that the walking bridge is open again, it's a fabulous perch to look down from and photograph over the guard rail. I've spent hours watching Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Black- and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, American White Pelicans, Double-crested and Neotropic cormorants and other species fish there; there's often one cormorant diving on the deep side along the steps. It should be interesting to see how long the new "retaining walls" retain, because water still slides down the dirt-sides of those supposedly "retaining" walls, which is why they didn't retain during that episode of our 100-year flood.

Yacht Club Bay - Boat Clubs along this area of shoreline. Usually not many birds, although egrets and Great Blue Herons, wild gooses, Green Herons, hawks and Muscovy and other ducks, pelicans (especially in the late evening), even hummingbirds are seen in the tall reeds by water's edge, although we've seen far fewer Muscovies around the lake in the last couple years (2013); I suspect poachers have been busy, and it's a shame, because those large-girth ducks are unusually friendly with humans. I have even seen them fly, but it looks like tremendous effort, and their flapping sounds like a freight train huffing and puffing. map.

Mockingbird Hill - is called that, because Mockingbird Lane tops its borders. There are many more Mockingbirds elsewhere. There's always some at Winfrey Point. Probably more people call this area Boy Scout Hill, so perhaps there was a jamboree there once.

Cardinals, Blue Jays, Orioles, and I've heard lots of reports that pelicans kettle there. I know orioles nest in this area in spring. There's probably more Scissor-tailed Flycatchers here, especially along the road down to the Singing Bridge than anywhere else at the lake.

The Big Thicket - thick with trees along and extending from the Yacht Clubs north toward Mockingbird Lane.

Same as the Yacht Club  above, in The Big Thicket.

The Bath House Culture Center - an official art and theatre building sponsored by the City of Dallas, with extensive parking areas for their and other purposes. map

Mockingbirds (but they're everywhere at the lake), Red-tailed or Red-shouldered hawks who are raised nearby, Kestrel pairs hunting the whole area, lots of cormorants and various terns are seen on the poles of the sculpture in the water behind the building spring, winter and autumn. Those poles were made for birds to perch on, but they almost never do in summer. The rest of the year, almost every pole has a cormorant or gull or tern. Early one May I remember seeing dozens of Great Egrets flying against great winds along the coast between the Bath House and Dreyfuss Point.

Dreyfuss Point - Once one of two social buildings along the edge of the lake. Many weddings and other parties were held there till it burned down in the autumn of 2006 when the Fire Department couldn't find it.

Before the old Dreyfuss Social Club burned down, the roof was usually rife with crows. My great shot of a crow knocking a juvenile hawk out of the air, was taken there. The only time I've seen a Great Blue Heron tall in a tall tree was there, and the power lines often have various birds, including an American Kestrel who still hunts in winter along the shore. I've often photographed Red-tailed and Red-shouldered hawks there. It seems to be a natural hawk hunting ground, and often in winter, pairs of American Kestrel, either singly or together, hunt from the elevated wires or tall trees there and up the coast toward The Bath House Cultural Center. I've also sometimes seen Buffleheads, all the local herons, cormorants and many other species..

Hidden Creek - Several creeks feed into the lake through this densely wooded area where many herons and egrets, Turkey- and Black-Vultures may be found.

Raucous domestic goose noise often fills the area, but also at least one Great Blue Heron, a Great Egret, several Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures have been seen there. That's where I shot a Red-winged Blackbird chasing a Black (I think) Vulture, several little herons — Yellow- and Black-crowned, and both Red-tailed and Red-shouldered hawks, and various owls. And I'm pretty sure that's where the coyotes den, they've been seen sunning on the concrete, especially in the deep of winter, during their mating season.


Sunset in Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission. x

West into The Setting Sun from Sunset Bay 

Sunset Bay is probably the second most wildlife diverse part of the lake (second-only to the Fitchery, which is much more labor-intensive to visit), because it is naturally protected from cold north winds and offers a variety of land and vegetation types. map.

In addition to the year-long presence of 70+ liberated domestic gooses and multitudes of ducks, it's where the Egrets sometimes sleep (hundreds of them, well away from shore), and it is winter home to our annual 6-7-month winter vacation for a large population of American White Pelicans (whose tags indicate they spend the rest of the year in southeastern Idaho, the Dakotas, and east to Minnesota) from mid-September or mid-October through Tax Day. I've counted as many as 300 pelicans there, although they do not all stay.

Other birds that have been sighted there include: both Neotropic and Double-crested Cormorants, all five of our local varieties of herons — Great Blues, Little Blues, Green, Yellow- and Black-crowned Night Herons, all our egrets — Great, Snowy and Cattle, woodpeckers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Mallards, Muscovies, (not so much anymore; I suspect that the easy to catch species have been seriously poached), gooses, Avocets (a whole flock of them has visited at least twice), various sandpipers, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Egyptian Gooses, Wood Ducks, Pintails, Gadwalls, Lesser Scaups in late autumn and winter (4-6 males, with ocas si on al visits by one female for a day or two), Monk Parakeets, Killdeer, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, both Turkey and Black Vultures and one or both of a Belted Kingfisher pair can sometimes be heard and seen.  

I've seen dozens of Cedar Waxwings drunk on berries in what I call Sunset Forest and other photographers call Hooterville (after the variety of owls), up the hill toward the apartment buildings near Garland Road, and lots of hawks and Kestrel and owls and a surprising variety of little birds in the thick of the forest..

Winfrey Point - The other social building, where firemen repeatedly went when they couldn't find Dreyfuss as its social building burned down, also offers a high point for photographing and viewing the lake, especially during storms. Several festivals are held in the largish parking lot, and it's a great place to watch firework displays around the city on July 4.

Red-tailed Hawks, pairs of American Kestrels hunt there in winters, an Osprey, Great Horned Owls, mockingbirds aplenty, grackles, Killdeer nest where overflow-parking is allowed on the grass for rich-people-parties, one Bald Eagle, at least one pair of Yellow-headed Blackbirds visit both in spring and fall, Red-winged Blackbirds, jillions of Purple Martins, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Eastern and Western Kingbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and starlings. There's often a hawk and less and less often an American Kestrel or pair of them hunting from the high wire across the lake-side of the parking lot.

Arboretum Drive - What used to be the DeGoyler's estate, is now Dallas' Arboretum, which you pay to get into to see flowers and creeks and trees and misters misting them. Usually there's sculpture, fountains, pools and such. There's an incredibly cheap-looking "Western Town" area complete with a Indian-like teepee down by the lake, and lately a kid park with rides and a tram threaten to turn adjacent areas of the park into parking lots.

SAVE White Rock Lake.
PAVE the Arboretum.

I've never seen anything but Great-tailed Grackles on the grounds themselves, and I'm not excited about paying to look at flowers, when they're everywhere else for free, but they do have free concerts that noise up the lake on Thursday nights in the summer. I guess the folks on the grounds pay for the privilege, but dozens to hundreds of canoers, kayakers and people in small fishing boats gather on the coast at the western edge to hear it.

In the water along there, I've seen thousands of Ruddy Ducks, small flotillas of Bufflehead ducks, coots galore, Mallards, Gadwalls, Pintails, Pied-billed grebes, a few Horned and sometimes a pair of Eared Grebes, Great Egrets, grackles, starlings, cardinals, Great Blue and Green Herons, and several species of hawks plying the area.

Garland Bridge - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Garland Bridge

Garland Bridge - a small walking bridge of the high, rusted iron sides variety, the only one at the lake that does not heave queasily when joggers run over it. Back to map.

Great Egrets, grackles, starlings, Barn Swallows, Green Herons, American White Pelicans, gulls and cormorants


<< More bird stories are linked from the journal's index and whatever month this is Amateur
Birder's Journal, our walking journey along The White Rock Trail and my paddle up White Rock Creek.

All text and photographs
copyright 2006-2013 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved.

No reproduction without
specific written permission.

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