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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton

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23 photos so far this month 

Ring-billed Gulls
Diving for Prizes
February 5, 2016

RBG Standing On Water -Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved. 23

RBG (Ring-billed Gull) Standing On Water

I'd been watching them awhile, then caught on that some were diving, I didn't know why yet, so next time one had got going, I started photographed it, still hoping to figure out what for. These are presented in as close to these gulls — not just one's — usual diving sequence as I could manage, so this series makes some sense. Not my traditional chronological, because that way, they were in the wrong order.

Pre- RBG Dive - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Pre RBG (Ring-billed Gull) Dive

Trouble is they were at differing distances and with different sets of other birds, so while the action is sequential, the players are not. Oh, well.

RBG Dive -Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

RBG Head Under, Wings Still Working

Wing-power up, lift-off, head-down dive in.

Ring-billed Gull Dive - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Ring-billed Gull Dive

These last two are so similar, yet so different, I'm putting in both. I like the singularity above and the camaraderie here.

Dive, Dive, Dive -Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Dive, Dive, Diving

Fold wings, while keeping powering down …

Jumper Down with Wings Up - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Jumper Down with Wings Up

Beak's probably on the bay floor about now, and …

RBG Sploosh with Wings Still Up -Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Down A Little More …

it needs that little extra wing-push to stay down long enough to grab something tasty.

Left One Has Something a Little Slimy - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Left One Has a Big-enough Something a Little Slimy

I saw several of these morsels, all the same colors and texture.

A Gull Among Coots - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

A Gull Among Coots

Three Ring-billed Gulls Hopping & Flapping Away - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Three Ring-billed Gulls Hopping and Flapping Away



Mid-Day at Hagerman
Wildlife Refuge
February 1, 2016

The First Roadrunner - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.  

Our First Roadrunner Today

We drove a long way not finding any birds before this one suddenly appeared close. We assumed it assumed that because it was holding still, we couldn't see it, but it had chosen its background badly this time, and we could see it very well indeed. It's always a thrill to sight a Roadrunner, and today was no exception. Yee-haw!! Beep-beep.

Previous Visits to Hagerman:
February 2009  October 2010  May 2012  July 2013  and  September 2013
It'll take awhile to DL pages with so many images.

LIke Ring-billed Gulls Under the Dam at White Rock Lake - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Like Ring-billed Gulls Gathered Under the Dam at White Rock Lake

We knew who they were without getting up close and personal, and indeed they were Ring-billed Gulls, the most populous gulls around here. Lake gulls. Calling them sea gulls is a little silly this far from the nearest ocean.

One Down; One Up - ∏intails - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

One Down; One Up — Pintail Ducks

There had been a recurring Male Pintail Duck in Sunset Bay the previous couple of summers, but he did not show up last summer, and we miss him, although we assume he found a mate and has settled down.

The Second Roadrunner - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

The Second Roadrunner

Our second roadrunner for the day was a little quicker, and it stayed more distant, and it too, seemed to believe it was invisible if it was still, but it appeared to believe even more in the theory that if it skedaddled out of there, it was far more likely to achieve disappearance. This is it stopping one more time on its way to invisibility. So much so, that like most other birds, after not long a while, all we could see was movement, not bird.

Northern Mockingbird Deep in Foilage - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Mockingbird Deep in Foliage

I seriously underexposed this shot by clicking first, then asking questions like, should I compensate for all that sky coming in from the background? later. I should have, but the nice thing about underexposing is that we can generally alter the tonal range by brightening-up everything in the picture. Like this. Over-exposing does not work that way, at all, ever.


Angle Dup — Great Blue Heron

It stood there just like this long enough for me to focus on its head and click the shutter. Later, it resumed looking like an ordinary Great Blue Heron.

Turkey Vulture Flying Over - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Turkey Vulture Flyover

We saw lots of Turkey Vultures today, but only one ever flew over us this close.

GBH in Situ - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

GBH in situ

This is a different GBH (Great Blue Heron). We only saw a half dozen all the time we were there. I'm sure many more were out there, but after not finding many birds in the few places we fully explored, we kinda gave up. It would have helped if we would have gone the early we attempted, but I did get to sleep in after thoroughly waking up, then we got back out there noonish. If we'd been there at seven or eight instead, we probably would have been a lot "luckier" with birds.

Mostl LIght Morph Snow Geese - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Mostly White Morph Snoagies

I stupidly managed to spook a couple hundred of them by erecting my tripod between them and Anna's car. Setting it up on the other side later, helped a lot. But I hated to waste a good, through dumb (on my part) Snoagies rush, and though I dearly wished I had my wide-zoom more handy, so I could see and capture the whole flapping immensity of seeing them all winging their way across the tundra, I shot with the usual 300mm with a 1.7x extender — and netted these — an overabundance of fuzzy, out of focus, Snoagie pix.


Snoagies Fly-by

It's hard to miss the Snow Geese when they're around. There's hundreds of them, and they like to settle close to the road, making it especially easy to photograph from a car. The Blue Morphs here are at the top left and top center of this photograph. The others are all the much more prevalent White Morphs.

one dark; one light Snow Geese -Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

One Dark Morph — One Light Morph Snow Gooses

Snow Geese come in two flavors — The White Morph (right above) and the Blue grubbing for the roots of plants on the left.

Pine Siskun? - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Pine Siskin?

At first the old guy (a lot older even than me) officiating inside the window, outside of which included containers of food for the birds, said this was something else (I forget what.), then he decided it was, instead, a Pine Siskin. I messed up the color when I brought this back from near total underexposure, and never really knew it, so couldn't match it, but another, sorta similar bird was nearby:

Either a Pine Siskin Or Something Else - Photograph Copyright 2016   All Rights Reserved.

Either A Pine Siskin or Something Else Entirely

Hard to say whether the pic above this one fits the pix in my bird books of Pine Siskins, but this image definitely does not. Some birds tend to travel in pairs, and if these two comprised a pair, (meaning a male and a female, not just two birds flying in the same sky or resting out the windows of the same National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, then the "Pine Siskin" and this one are a pair, but they sure don't look it.

Which is the long way around saying I don't know the correct identification for either.

My first photo today was at 11:10 AM. My last, leaving Hagerman was at 3:11 PM. I still want to go back for an earlier run at it, but I might wait till closer to almost spring, and I definitely want to get there when it opens.

Relevant websites: Hagerman's US Fish & Wildlife Service site features pelicans, but we didn't see a single one today.   The Friends of Hagerman's site has some interesting photos though they're not credited.   The Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge page on Wikipedia has no photos, but it does have the deepest information about various aspects of the refuge.   Directions are on's Hagerman page.


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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.