132 photos so far this month. Cameras Used Ethics Feedback My Other Bird Pages: Herons Egrets Heron v, 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 Dallas Bird Resources: Dallas Bird Chat Bird Rescue Info You want to use my photos? How to Photograph Birds Birding Places: Bird-annotated Map of White Rock Lake & Spillway & the Med School Rookery & Village Creek Drying Beds Please do not share these images on Pinterest, Tumblr or other image-sharing sites!
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Best Pix on This Page : Visiting Rogers Wildlife Rehab The SW Med School Rookery Anhingas @ The Rookery Speed Preening Barn Swallow(s) A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher & Wood Duck in Action Bird Abstracts Snowy Egrets & Great-tailed Grackles Displaying Red-shouldered Hawks Guarding Their Nest Recently-hatched Barred Owlettes Playing in Trees Some Other People's Excellent Photographs
The Red-shouldered Hawk's Nest I've been Scouting Has Two New Chicks,
Maybe More — Photographed & posted April 25, 2017
I go by this nest almost every day — sometimes three or four times, just checking on their progress. I probably should say I "go under" it, since the best way to find the exact spot is to back and front up under the nest in "The Slider" (my elderly Prius that's now getting 53.3 miles per gallon, and I'm so proud…). There may actually be more than two chicks, but two is all I could see in these careful shots.
I had got worried when part of their careful nest got blown down the other side of the tree, but I keep seeing mom sitting the nest, and today, finally, I saw fuzzy white hawk chicks. In this pic, I believe I see the two chicks and at least one parental Red-shouldered Hawk.
Please note that both chicks' eyes are sharp in focus. Us bird photographers get excited when that happens, although it's comparatively rare, and hardly necessary, except in the eyes and minds of amateurs, of which I am one.
More parental Red-shouldered Hawk Dad pix below on this page.
The Southwest Medical Center Rookery
Shot April 23 & posted late April 24
Starting with Cattle Egrets
There's always lots of construction going on around the corner of Inwood Road and Harry Hines Boulevard, approximately where the med school rookery is, and I've been wanting to do more and more juxtaposing of birds with those cranes, derricks, towers and other construction objects. Now that I've seen what it looks like, however, I might not want to do it again, but it was an interesting attempt.
Yes, Cattle Egrets are those small white birds who follow cows around in fields. They come to this — and many other rookeries — to pick mates and hatch new generations.
Today, I hoped to capture at least one each of the following species at the rookery:
Birds & Expectations — Sunday April 23, 2017
√ Tricolored Heron: only one, and that one mostly by accident. I didn't know what species I'd shot till much later. Then I was surprised. When I'm photographing flying birds from the top of the parking garage, I take whoever flies over, then sort them out later. It's generally a rapid-fire exercise.
√ Anhinga: lots today
√ Cattle Egret: lots today
√ Great Egret: Way plenty
√ Little Blue Heron: one or two
√ Snowy Egret — only one that I saw, and I didn't realize who it was then. I didn't really expect to see a Snowy. Turned out I got at leas one of every species I'd hoped for. And I'm certainly not used to getting this high a percentage of what I sought, but I'll take it.
√ White Ibis: just a few in plain sight
In years past, I've often seen adult breeding Cattle Egrets raise very large crowns to show that they are big, bad, adult and breeding, but though I've been watching for them, I have yet to see them do that this year, either in Dallas or in San Antonio.
Cattle Egrets are 19-21 inches long with wingspans of about three feet. Great Egrets are 3 to 3.5 feet long with wingspans of 4 feet.
there's very probably more Great Egret adults and chicks at this rookery than any other species. Especially now, since it's been pleasantly cool — if not downright cold — nights.
Obviously the same Great Egret in the same place, showing off its Breeding Plumes.
This photo started out somewhat darker, and I didn't see the egret's head among the black when I shot it, so I neatly cropped off its beak
At one point in that early afternoon, Anna pointed west toward the other parking garages along that side of campus, and said she wanted to find Great Egret chicks, and I wondered where could possibly be more than were right there at the Memorial on the north side of the rookery, where I photographed these. But she found much more wonderful nests of birds over there. See the Anhingas above.
anhingas are often more easily identified from the back. Anhingas are 2.5 to 3 feet long with wingspans of about 4 feet. And they're mostly dark.
Great detail. This is my first photo in which I have noticed the flaring gray-black lines emanating from their beaks, back under their heads. This one is not an adult male, let alone breeding. Wing-feather details change between juveniles and adult females, but since I can't see this one's top, I can't apply the little ignorance I have on that subject.
This must have been taken from the top of the Free Parking Garage, because I cannot fly, and there's no other way to get up even with a flying Anhinga. I am only very slowly learning how to recognize their various sexes and ages. Sightings of them at the rookery used to be rare. Now they're common — or at least I'm gradually figuring out where to find them and what they look like. This looks like an anhinga in flight, and I love that its orange feet transfuse light from behind. But I wish I could see more detail in, around and on its head, where it might or might not help me identify its relative age.
These were pointed to me as juveniles. But juveniles — and still confusingly to me, adult females — have brown necks and heads, and adult males — breeding or not, have this colored (black, mottled with brown or tan) heads. So the lower, farther-back one here may well be either a juvenile or a female, but the upper one is more probably an adult male. And I never did see the nest, which to my meagre knowledge, are small and well-camouflaged. Breeding Adult males and females have blue orbital rings — circles of unfeathered skin surrounding their eyes, like the upper one here.
I suspect this one is the same one upper in the pic above. The brownish-black blob below it here might be a juvenile.
As photographed through several other, leafed trees.
I really did not expect to photograph this many anhingas.
i had it in my mind that I wanted to go up the free parking tower across the street from the outdoor gym that's surrounded by the rookery before we started walking the grounds. Not exactly sure why, really. Just had it in my mind to do that first this time, instead of after shooting for a couple hours, like we usually do. That five-floor Free Parking garage almost due South of the rookery is great for photographing flying birds up close — or at least way up closer than from the ground.
That's probably why some of today's flying birds seem to be at pretty much the same altitude as the photographer. There was a time when we could depend upon the Anhingas to fly by the top floor at 10 o'clock in the morning, but last time I tried then, they weren't there.
i got two other shots of a Little Blue Heron today, but that first other one nearly blends into a tree it's flying in front of. This one doesn't look all that blue, but it's fairly sharp.
Flying toward construction over one of the non-free parking lots (I think). This one looks a lot bluer, at least.
even though their beaks curl down, not up, I always get the impression they are smiling, and I almost expect a wink from those clear blue eyes.
again, while shooting any bird that half-way presented itself, I got this one Snowy Egret of the day, even though I had not sought one, nor had I expected to — or particularly — wanted to find it. Its head here looks just like Sibley's drawing under the Heron "Courtship Colors" heading in The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd Edition, he refers to several color changes from the expected. Legs on Snowy Egrets, among other herons and egrets, turn much lighter than expected. Here, this Snowy is not having it out with another Snowy Egret, or its crown would be way up on its head. Spectacularly way up.
spring Springing or Ready to Spring
Shot April 21 posted April 23
Must be Spring.
We assume the Barred Owl Parents and kits we all so assiduously photographed a couple weeks ago are in the nearest forest learning how to fly in silence and capture food.
Their nest seems to be overflowing at the seams, but the eggs are safe under Mom's watchful eye. All of today's photographs were made out the driver's side window of The Slider. Later, I went for a long walk.
While Anna was doing official stuff in delivering the dozen very young Mallards, I wandered around the front and back of the office at Rogers.
Just one of many treasures there was this hand-held Barn Owl.
Be sure to notice the sticking-out positioning of the feathers along the bottom of its body. "Rigged for silent running." I didn't get in close to its wings, but in another owl, many years ago, I was able to see their leading edges of its wings were similarly positioned to help keep its flight quiet.
Karen holding the owl. She was very pleasant and happy to show off this fine bird.
But these guys were the reason for our trip to Hutchins today. I held them in my lap from the Vet just south of White Rock Lake all the way bumping to Hutchins. We didn't open them up for photographs till we got to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, but we could plainly hear them whistling and whispering all along the way.
Another treasure was this way-too fast-moving Baby Emu.
The only time this Roadrunner even approximated slowing down when when it changed from charging right to charging left. Beep-beep.
I'd been thinking about Crested Caracaras lately, and here was one just perched there waiting for me to go "click." And this is the best focus I've got on a Caracara in awhile.
Same or maybe different Caracara in the background, with a hawk with a red tail in the foreground — for the moment.
Pretty close, except for a lot of wire.
This is about as close as I've ever been to an American Kestrel, although I've photographed them hundreds of times. I feel a kinship, but we've never talked.
I used to only see Green Herons at Green Heron Park (see my bird-annotated map of White Rock Lake), where I have only seen Green Herons twice since they "up-" graded the park.
There's almost always a lot of chickens wandering the grounds at Rogers. I often do not photograph them, because, well, they're just chickens.
American White Pelicans have left White Rock Lake but there's often an injured one or two at Rogers. The beak 'fin' indicates that it is — male or female — of the age to breed.
I always like to talk with the Black Vultures, who are a lot smarter than the Turkey Vultures, but the Turkey Vultures have better smellers than the Black Vultures, which is why we often see the Blacks following the TVs into where dead things are.
There are larger bodies of water in the area behind the office at Rogers Wildlife, but this one's safer — and closer
Visiting What I used to call "Our Lady of the Lake Rookery" in San Antonio, but
now I know it's really "Elmendorf Lake" across the fence from OLL college —
Photographed Friday, April 14 & Posted Monday, April 17
We've never seen any other bird photographers there, and we've been coming for the last six or seven or maybe more years. This time, a guy asked me if I were having fun, and I told him I really was, and that we came there from Dallas pretty often.
Looked like it was falling, but it was just descending clumsily.
But when it finally got positioned just right, it attacked.
But they didn't really fight — not at all with the vehemence of the fierce little Snowy Egrets.
A few seconds more than three minutes later, I shot almost exactly this same photograph, and they had hardly moved a bit.
The usual Dallas variety of cormorants are so-called "double-crested," but these are somewhat different. According to my treasured Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas, the "Double-crested Cormorant" has a "larger; thicker body and bill; [the] orange throat patch reaches above eye and is rounded on cheek; no white outline on throat patch or white plume in breeding plumage." Which may mean the cormorant below the upper one in swan-dive mode is a Double-crested, but I don't think so.
Dallas' own Southwest Medical School Rookery hides its birds in thickets of dark trees. Elmendorf Lake's rookery is almost all right out in public, although there are a few thickets lower to the hilled ground of that island.
Of the front two Cattle Egrets, one has its crop up, and the other has its crop down.
I have seen older Cattle Egrets with larger and higher crops, but I just liked this fuzzy comparison — especially when I finally realized that the Cattle Egret is actually behind the Snowy Egret…
The kits waiting anxiously for food. One is obviously bigger and healthier. Note also how much larger the chick on the right is than the other. There may even be an even smaller chick lost in the green here. The biggest one gets the most food and attention, and the other two are only around for insurance in case the big one doesn't make it.
One day this week, I visited the lake four times — and I found interesting birds every time. I shot these in very fast succession April 7.
Took several days to decide which of the much longer sequence to keep and work up.
Several momentary poses looked almost identical.
Then I shot more decent pix and posted them …
… nearly forgetting these that I had so wanted to post here earlier.
I remember clicking every time it stopped.
And yesterday, I finally deleted the dupes.
But I just had to show you this rapid-fire sequence of one Barn Swallow preening.
I was surprised to see another (or maybe the same again) Scissortail so soon again. These were shot through The Slider's driver's side window. If I'd got a sunroof, I might have been more comfortable shooting nearly straight up, and I might have got these a little sharper.
Or some other kinda bug.
Maybe it's the slower action that helps make this one look sharper. Maybe something else.
Not much of anybody else human around this time at Sunset Beach, so I was able to get close enough with a tripod to get pretty detailed shots of this Wood Duck drake who took a long time preening.
Mostly shot from my new $209, Canon ELPH 360 I got to have a
Wider-angle in my Pocket — Shot Tuesday & posted Thurs April 13
This first photograph — and the last one — in today's journal entry — are from my usual full-frame Nikon with a fairly long tele lens. And the rest are from my new cheapo Canon. I wondered if I could tell which were from which camera. To my understanding "Greater Sunset Bay" is the mostly dry and treed and sometimes creeked portions of the area from the actual wet lake and bay out to Buckner Boulevard (Loop 12) on one end and Garland Rd. on the other.
After seeing all the hollowed logs ripped open by recent storms, I've been paying more attention to holes in trees where birds might live. This is the first of the rest of the Canon pix.
I couldn't see what he was photographing, but the stance looked familiar.
The Canon has no Electronic Viewfinder, just the LCD on the back that is not always WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), and for this shot it showed a way too bright image that in no way resembles this one. I can't do close-ups with my telephoto lens, but if I set this one right and believe that I have actually set it right, even if it, in no way, shows that I have, I sometimes can with this camera. This is what it might look like one of those times when I get all those rights right.
This scene looked pretty close to what we see here. Sometimes I have to outguess this camera's output. Sometimes not. Every camera has its quirks. I guess after being a photographer for 53 years, I can outguess some and get fooled entirely by others.
The view in the LCD was very much like this.
People bring their kids to "feed the ducks," which often include Coots, gooses and other birds, who do not include actual ducks. They also often bring their dogs, never quite realizing that most birds are afraid of dogs and are less likely to stay close when they are near.
I can usually depend on my 300mm lens not to flare up. But rather obviously, the lens on the ELPH 360 isn't as well corrected. Though it still render views that look amazing.
I've used that same caption — only I spelled out the first word — previously and on a photograph with full tonality. Not always, but sometimes you get what you pay for with cheap camera's cheap optics.
Neither of these full tele "12X optical zoom" as it says on the camera is as good as my other camera and my usual lens, but they're still not half bad.
Who is actually a little more colorful than this brownish image seems to show. But this image still has its elegance.
And, once again, this last shot was taken with my full-frame rather more expensive camera and long and very sharp telephoto lens. I think I can tell the differences. Can you?
Around the lake looking for photo-worthy birds — and finding many…
Shot Tuesday April 11, and posted very early April 12
No idea where was this blue jay looking less like a Blue Jay than usual.
I always want to capture the classic Blue Jay look, but luckily, every time I photograph one or more of them, I capture them differently.
As seen on the upper portion of Winfrey Hill in a meadow that soon will be teaming with flycatchers and other hungry birds.
I panned along and shot three times. This was the best of the bunch.
This was the biggest — not necessarily the tallest — tree that got knocked over in the big, nasty, storm couple weeks ago in and around White Rock Lake.
Across the lagoon off Sunset Beach. No birds or animals but some kind a blue tube with writing on it I still haven't investigated. What I like about this scene is the title under the picture above.
The rabbits don't show that often, only at nights in early and mid spring, but there's always grackles there and everywhere else. Sometimes they went into their heads up display that generally means a fight with someone close. Here they're just fooling around. That's the asphalt road they're standing on.
The road that used to go to the Dreyfuss Building that's not there anymore, because the Fire Department couldn't find it, even they knew right where the Winfrey Building was. I suspect there's a lot of human kissing and touching up toward the end of the road and the area that looks off into downtown Dallas and the other side of Sunset Bay.
That branch that's not just twisted off the tree that used to be in base part, but that I'm afraid The City will do something, so it's not any part of the tree that it still is an important part of.
I drove around the lake three times this day. When I finally find my little $209 Canon, I'll add the best of those shots and the several shots of the Coot getting away from whatever held it down too long near the point of Winfrey Point…
Around the lake looking for photo-worthy birds — and finding many…
No idea when I shot these, but I posted them the afternoon of April 10.
Coots are difficult to expose correctly, because of the differences in tonalities between their dark black heads and their brilliant white beaks, not to even mention those dark red eyes. Once in a while, even I get it right. As often here — but not always, these images are presented in strict chronological order, although I'm not at all sure why that should even matter.
Lots of hollowed-out trees — and many others — got too torqued by the wind in last week's (from when I shot this last, last week) storm. See why so many birds find homes in those old trees?
I took my own sweet time advancing ever so slowly upon this pair of angry ducks.
I was hoping for color and flash. Instead, I got near abstraction, which I always greatly admire.
Then along came another photographer, totally unaware of the many long minutes it took me, tiny short steps at a time, advancing down the hill, getting ever closer to the fighters.
And scared them away by charging down to where he could fill his frame. None of these images filled mine.
I don't think I'll ever get enough of bird abstractions.
And I love me my Snorkers.
This one of whom then stuck out its left foot for a long, soothing leg stretch.
Abstract in their beauty.
And theirs, too.
It needs a little more light, but it probably would not agree.
I wanted to go down there and flip it back over. Then I thought of all those young guys I photograph down there, with their amazing balance and speed, and I thought much better of the notion. It was not moving.
I'd noticed a gathering of socializing Snowy Egrets on the Middle Spillway when I saw this guy lunging at nobody in particular. Showing off, I guess. Snowies tend to do that. They're a feisty lot.
As a couple of coots watch.
My Flying egret skills had really got rusty over the long winter and spring.
Not at all sure why it would want that branch, but it seemed to be a real prize for it.
That's the female on the right.
Every spring I attempt to capture Great-tailed Grackle in the throes of lust.
Today — this morning — I finally captured some of the body shapes these amazing birds acquire when they're in full mating mode.
This, however, is only a minor show of lust. There's a much more elusive, full monster mode the males grackles get into that I still hope to capture. I've seen it a couple times this week, but by the time I get the camera out and ready, it's gone.
This has got to be one of my better bird rousing photographs. See my Birds Rousing page for many more and a better understanding of the term, "rouse," which has to do with the fact that every bird with feathers is able to move any or all of the feathers on its body.
Probably getting those wings ready to do some flying.
According to my Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas, "Preferring wetter habitats than the closely related Broad-winged Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk, the Red-shouldered Hawk nests in mature trees, usually around river bottoms and in lowland tracks of woods alongside creeks."
I know he is a he, because that same Birds of Texas book says "Pair builds a bulky nest of sticks and twigs or reuses an old nest; female incubates 2-4 darkly blotched, bluish white eggs for about 33 days."
I was careful not to get too close. In fact, to get the lens to focus, I had to take three giant steps back, and I felt much safer back there.
I appreciate inter-species images. The dark bird near the Wood Duck in the middle is an American Coot, and the bird at the far left end is ahh… oh, probably some other duck.
Note his inverted — or is that UP-verted — crown, which I've never seen a Wood Duck exhibit before. Neato-keeno! I didn't notice it when I photographed it, but would love to see it closer and from the front some time.
And another sharp crop of a similar, king-of-the-world image.
I named my car "The Slider" after the Red-earred Slider, even though it is neither green nor splotched with algae, which is fairly common on wild turtles, but that fuzzy stuff freaks out turtle pet owners, as I've just read from a whole page of worries. It also doesn't have a red "ear" lengthwise along the side of its head, although I've always wanted to paint the backs of the exterior rear-view mirrors red, so I could more easily pick it out among all those other white Priuses in a parking lot.
I'm assuming it's some sort of Flycatcher. But though I've looked at all of them in my Birds of Texas, I have not yet identified it.
Ah! There it is in Texas Flycatchers and Their Kin on Two Shutterbirds. It must be an Eastern Kingbird. I thought it looked familiar. It's just about time for the Kingbirds to come flying back into our lives.
Earlier Sunday afternoon, there wasn't much light under the cloudy sky, but we photographed anyway. Later, when the sky turned a little blue, there was more light with its accompanying shadows, which were entirely missing in these top three images. I'd heard yesterday that the next generation of owls were out of their nest, but I couldn't find them. Today, they were rather obvious, once one separated owls from trees, which is never really very easy.
On site, it was difficult to tell the adults from the juveniles, at least partially because many of the owls were back-lighted and apparently much darker than you see them here. And there was a variety of mixed information about the ages of the Barred Owls in the trees above. I generally photograph the best I can on site, then figure out who's who when I get them on this page.
One or more of the owlets are probably portrayed in today's journal entry more than once. But I don't know which. They don't really all look alike, but I don't know them well enough to differentiate among them yet. Just separating them from the trees and leaves was a major accomplishment. Most of the photographers present stayed in one of two or three places. I was all over the place trying to get clear views through the branches.
Once my photographs were worked up in my elderly, pre-subscription Photoshop CS5, it became obvious that the owls without stripes on their fronts were owlets.
Unfortunately, this one has turned its head twisted back 165 degrees or so and is looking down over its striped back at us. So what I originally labeled as an adult, is actually a fuzzy juvenile. Note the gray fuzz near the bottom left of it and the full white rim around the sides of its eyes, where adults Barred Owls have stripes (bars).
Anna and I had only planned to stay a little while, then go off to Keller's on Garland Road for one of their wonderful and inexpensive hamburgers. Coming back, we saw sunlight in the clouds, so we hied over to the lake, hoping the light would last.
And we found plenty of light in some areas. And yes, this owl and the next one down are both the same species. Just this one was in bright sunlight, and the next was in muted shadows, so the bar colors seem different, but really are not. Probably, the reason this owl is squinting, is because there's much more light in its eyes.
All totaled, there were — near as I could figure — two adult owls and three recently-hatched owlets.
And every time I moved to get a different angle, I'd forget where was that little blot of gray and brown up in the tangle of tree. Aha! This is at least one of the duplicates. I'm recognizing the pattern of branches here. The other one is up here.
Waiting for this one to turn around and face the photographers took the longest time, and this was the closest to that optimum stance as it got while I watched.
Bill J Boyd, who "spends a lot of time at Sunset Bay photographing pelicans," is the Owl Docent at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, where he took this photograph. He said, "A Great Horned Owl has nested just above the entrance to Lady Bird Wildflower Center in Austin for eight consecutive years. … Mama owl got on the nest February 9. The baby owlet is about 2-weeks old, and this was the first time it could see over the planter ledge where the nest is. The owlets will not fledge until late April. Come down and photograph if you get a chance."
More information about this adult Great Horned Owl, called Athena is on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's site.
Anna Palmer organizes Dallas' Bird Chauffeurs — comprising 7–10 volunteers who pick up injured or orphaned birds from Dallas Veterinarian CityVet/CityPet's White Rock location, then delivers them to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation in Hutchins [just south of Dallas off I-45]. Anna said this "owl was found on the ground in the rescuer's yard." and that "Rogers has two more Screech Owls that have been delivered there recently. They are fed chopped mice." She sent a photo of the mice chopped, but I decided not to use it.
If you find an injured or orphaned bird, deliver it Monday through Saturday to CityVet/CityPet's White Rock location. They'll give it minimal dry food and no water. Contact info and map on their site.
Kala said this was "the female eating prey the male brought."
She also said. "Once the tree leafs out, [I] hope there is still a good window to it where the babies can be seen [and photographed]. I didn't take a photo this week of the nest itself because I was much more interested in what they were doing, and when he flew to the nest, I would have disturbed her to get close, so since I had plenty of shots of her eating without disturbing her, I quietly backed away so she could finish her meal. I think it was either rabbit or squirrel, it was red meat. I didn't see feathers, and for sure it was not fish."
When Kala sent these pictures, she said the female "was not sitting on eggs yet." I say getting both members of a pair together in one photo is always amazing.
I've often seen these nest sticks called "Nuptial Gifts" to the mate, although officially, probably only the first one is of specific ceremonial value, and unless we're counting sticks in a particular nest from before it becomes a nest, it's difficult to determine which was the first one. I used to get excited about photographing what I thought was that first one.
Except as noted, all text and photographs Copyright 2017 & before 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 the best of that is documented in this Journal, all the pages of which continue online — see links at top and bottom of every Bird Journal page. I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally yet always amateurishly since 1964. A total of 53 years.