INDEX

Last Year

Redraw page often.
SITE SEARCH

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

April's Best:  Female Red-bellied Woodpecker   Flying Flycatchers   The Owlet   Red-winged Blackbird murdering a Sparrow   Gorgeous Eared Grebes   Snowy Egret Dancing   Grackles Fighting   Pigeons Courting   Birds at the Rookery   Parakeets & Spotted Sandpiper   Leftover Pelicans Fishing   Sunset Bay's First Barred Owlet   

The Current Bird Journal is always here. All Contents Copyright 2015 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. Cameras Used  Ethics  out-of-date Feedback page red diamond Bird Rescue Advice   Herons   Egrets   Herons or Egrets?  Books & Links  Pelican Beak Weirdness  Pelicans Playing Catch  Bird Rouses  Courtship Displays  Duck Love  Birding Galveston  2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds  & the 1st  Bald Eagle  Coyotes  800e Journal   G5 Journal   JRCompton.com  Links  My resumé  Contact Me  DallasArtsRevue  Bird Banding Info  So you want to use one of my photographs in your work?  How to Photograph Birds  Bird-annotated map of the SW Med School Rookery  Even I use Site Search to find anything, but that gets art-related finds, too, because it includes DallasArtsRevue, my other website.

 

A Squirrel, A Red-bellied Woodpecker & Some Blue-winged Teal

April 25 2015

Squirrel with a Fuzzy Woodpecker - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Squirrel with a Fuzzy Woodpecker

After I'd pretty much given up finding any birds to photograph on this balmy but wet Friday afternoon, I went for the cute squirrel eating a nut or something on one of those stone tables, and as I was focusing in on it, I noticed a familiar black and white and red bird bouncing along a table behind. I shot this, then …

Woodpecker with squirrel - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker with Squirrel and Tables

I focused in on the woodie, had to put down my camera for half a minute or so to set my focus to pinpoint instead of spot area, because the woody kept fitzing in and out of focus, because the camera was focusing on the table and the bird, and while I futzed with the controls, I hoped it'd still be there, and it was. Then I followed it.

I don't think any of today's shots are full-frame.

Female Red-bellied Woodpeceker on a Wood Table at Stone Tables -c pry

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker on Wood Table

I did not park on the grass in the park. I parked sidewise in the parking lot out front, so I could continue shooting from my car. These are blow-ups, not zoom-ins (because my lens is not a zoom.) I kept shooting.

Fem Red-belly pecking dinner - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker Eating Somebody's Leftovers

And shooting. What you see here are the best shots — the ones that are in strong focus and look like the bird(s) therein are actually doing something important. Like eating.

Fem Red-belly profile on tree - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker in Profile on a Tree

Or they just look pretty darned good. There are others. I shot 96 images today. That's down from my usual 150 – 300 shots average. But it was very nearly raining when it wasn't really really raining.

Blue-winged Teal in Tall Grass by Flood Pond - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Male Blue-winged Teal in the Tall Grass by the Flood Ponds

Ben called it something much more intelligent that "flood pond," but I can't remember what his term was.

I'm still miles away from this place, because I didn't get out of the car and set up my tripod and thereby scare away every bird in the county. I just shot out of The Slider's window and held the camera very still. I have taken to holding the lens hood with my left hand (fingers inside) when I shoot from The Slider, while my right hand holds the camera against the driver's side sill. It seems to work. For all these shots.

 

 

Idiot Photographers Who Don't care about anything But Getting
a Pic of the Owlets & then another & then another & another

April 24 2015

 Idiot Photographers - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

"Photographers" mobbing the Barred Owl Nest in Greater Sunset Bay

It's sad that many photographer who sometimes use birds as their subjects, don't give a damn about the birds. It's just the pic they want. So what if they interrupt bird lives or parents from feeding cute little owlets or they need to teach their young to hunt. If photographers like the idiots mobbing Lawther Drive through Greater Sunset Bay would get their pix and leave, it'd be okay. But these guys are interfering with these birds' life.

Idiot Photographers 2 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Some people with cameras care more about getting one photograph after
another of the young Barred Owls than those owls' safety or feeding.

For a change, I'm not the only one thinking photographers who mob very young birds and their fragile lives are idiots who don't give a damn about the birds. I had a long conversation with one of our better bird photographers, Neb Refidnas who is active in conservation at White Rock and The Trinity River, and we were both dismayed at all the idiocy down the street.

If you know any of these people, explain to them that owls, especially in the evening, need to be fed by their parents, who will be put off by all those idiots tramping around under them and pointing things at them and otherwise disrupting the young owls' feeding and living.

When I got photos of the baby owl [There were two of them then, but only one out of the nest yet.] [below] that all this frenzy is about, three days ago, I did it when there was plenty of light in the trees — much earlier than the 7:27 p.m. shots above, when I saw a much less frenzied group of about a half dozen photographers, many hand-holding telephotos. I walked over, found a decent place to shoot from, set up my tripod, shot about a dozen quick shots, then left the area, chuckling at the chuckleheads who were just standing there shooting picture after picture of a young owlet who wasn't moving much but his head.

But then I've photographed owls before (See my March 2007 shot of hoo-hoo whom was probably my most famous owl pic ever, that was republished in Steve Blow's column in the Dallas Morning News, (that instance of which, alas, is no longer online). I'm wondering if I should actively lie about where I see birds from now on. Send the idiot hoardes somewhere else — but where?

I drove by the next afternoon, and all the idiots were gone. But then it was raining.

 

 

Suds, Budding Young Ducks, Texas Spiny Softshell Turtles & a Crow

April 23 2015

suds -Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Disconcerting to see Suds Bubbling onto Shore

Thought maybe it'd crawl right up onto shore and …  Well, I don't know, but I watched it carefully for awhile till I was sure it wasn't growing. I saw plenty other suds this afternoon, and most of those were much uglier. Ben told me that the suds are often from effluvia dumped upstream.

Ducklings on a Raft - No Mom - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ducklings on a Raft Attached to One of those Piers that Nobody's Got Around to Fixing Yet After Many Many Months

Plenty of fish around there. And plenty of fisher persons, just they can't get up onto the fishing pier. So they'll stand on the rolling piers for kids (all I've ever seen there) putting their rowers into the water. Today there were half a dozen fisher persons — and, oh, look, something wiggling in the weeds growing on the raft — maybe not a Wonder of the World, but it's certainly unusual — so we'll zoom in a little on our view here.

owny Young Ducks on a Raft - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Downy Very Young Ducks on a Raft

I've seen Great Egrets there often. Or maybe just one. For a long time I thought that Great Egret must renting the place, it was there so often. These guys were certainly cute. If I could have found a Mom Duck around, I could tell you whether these were Mallards or Wood Ducks. I'll assume Mallards, since there's dozens of times more of them around here.

Snowy Egret and a Bunch of Water - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Egret and a Bunch of Water

I so long for the time when I'll be able to find a variety of herons on the upper, middle and lower falls along the Spillway. This is the bend just below the Lower Steps, and I've been watching that Snow Egret often lately when I drive down Garland Road. Finally, today, I decided I needed the walk, and I walked up The Spillway to see what I could see. I was thinking of birds, but I found some other self-annimated creatures, too.

GE Landing on the Slant - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Landing on the Slant

The slant in the title of these shots is the same slant you can see in the photo above this one, at the longitudinal end of The Spillway(s). I've seen young herons (which includes herons and egrets and probably some other birds I have yet to meet.) have trouble landing or even walking there (I remember a Little Blue, I think, trying to run on it, before he had walked there, and he fell over, and I don't think I've seen a heron fall over walking ever before), but eventually, everybody takes it in slanted stride.

Great Egret Landing on the Slant - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Landing on the Slant

x

Great Egret Landing on the Slant - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Landing on the Slant

x

Great Egret Landing on the Slant  - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Landed on the Slant

x

Texas Spiny Softshell Turtles - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Texas Spiny Softshell Turtles

These guys were big, and there were six to eight of them down below the Walking Bridge over the amphitheater that is the area down there. They'd move around a little, and when I came back there were even more. I don't remember ever seeing this species before, but there's a lot I don't remember.

Crow Up the Middle Spillway - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Crow Up The Middle Spillway

And I only ever saw one other bird up there — good walk anyway — and that one I saw when I looked down from trying to line up a shot of some Red-eared Sliders, and that bird reminded me that all birds are dinosaurs, because it looked kinda like one, but when I looked for it later, I couldn't find it.  Soon as I got the Sliders in focus, they splashed into the water.

 

 

Pestering Blue jay & Long-suffering Red-shouldered Hawk

April 21 2015

Bluejay Flying toward Red-shouldered Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Blue Jay Flying at Red-shouldered Hawk

I didn't see any Flycatchers in Winfrey Meadow today. Maybe because I did see two guys with huge telephoto lens running and chasing birds and trying to get them to stop escaping from them. When I photograph birds there, I drive my car up the hill, sidling into the grass to avoid getting honked at — which also scares the birds, but not, I think, as much as stumbling humans. Many birds are much more afraid of humans than of cars, even bright white cars with yellow stains from where I unfavorably impacted a clutch of warning signs.

Blue Jay Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Blue Jay Flyover

But I did watch a Blue Jay chasing a Red-shouldered Hawk into a tall tree in another part of the lake. I pulled over, turned on the flashers, locked The Slider down, and cranked up the window to help hold it still. The top of that tree was not particularly close.

Blue Jay Racing Diagonally - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Blue Jay Racing Diagonally Down

I assume the jay's plan was to annoy the hawk out of what the Blue Jay assumed was the Blue Jay's very own territory. It didn't work. The jay flew about, up, down and all around, and the hawk just stayed there, I guess waiting for the jay to go away.

Pals - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

They Look Like Pals

But it did not go away.

Grackle, Stump, Blue Jay and Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great-tailed Grackle, Stump, Blue Jay and Hawk

This is kinda the whole scene, complete with a grackle on top of the tree, the jay and the hawk. The grackle was up there most of the time, but I usually cropped closer to the birds, so they'd appear larger here, in this context.

Especially Sharp Blue jay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Especially Sharp Blue Jay Flying Around

While I was trying to get this image to behave with contrast and color, I noticed just how sharp it was.

Especially Sharp Blue Jay by itself - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Especially Sharp Blue Jay by Itself

So I tried isolating it, and making it bigger.

Not quite as Sharp a Blue Jay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Somewhat Softer Blue Jay Flying Around Up There

And another shot that looked pretty similar.

Just The Hawk - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Just the Hawk and the Tree

And I saved one shot with just the tree and the hawk.

 

 

First-hatched Owlet from Sunset Bay's Most public nest;
Scissortailed Flycatchers & Mockingbirds flying & a Killdeer

April 20 2015

 Near full-frame Owlett

Near Full-frame of Owlet

Lines of photographers under the tree, so it was dangerously obvious what we were up to. We all had to get our shot of the Barred Owls' first-hatched owlet, so I took my turn, photographed this guy, wondered if I'd ever get a chance to photograph it flying, and left.

This Season's First Public Owlet - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

This Season's First Publicl Owlet

It's certainly cute. It's standing on one claw, while the other one's in his feathers, and it's staring down at the gathered photographers. Nice, too, that the sunlight provided a nice bit of glint in its left eye.

Barred Owl Owlet - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

First-hatched of a Reported Two Eggs

Not sure how anybody knows that. Maybe that's the usual number for Barred Owls. Sure hope nobody's been up in the tree bothering them.

And check out my pix of this owlet's parent in last months Birder's Journal.

Adult Scissortail - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Female Scissortailed Flycatcher flying under the wire

I always want to photograph Scissor-tailed Flycatchers flying, because then they are at their most beautiful, and they're much more difficult to capture.

Adult Scissortailed Flycatcher Flying Profile - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Male Scissortailed Flycatcher Flying Profile

Sibley's Guide to Birds mentions "faint pink on belly," but I'm not sure I'd relegate that vivid color to being faint.

Adult Scissortailed Flycatcher Flying This Way - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Scissortailed Flycatcher Flying this Way

These flying pics of Scissortails are not just dumb luck, although there's a lot of flying flycatchers out there today in this early, still a little cool at night, spring. I've been practising for years, and I have a pretty good 300mm lens. Guy asked me yesterday how far I can see with it. I have told people I was limited to 93 million miles, but that's just rude. I thought awhile, then finally answered, it's 6X normal sight. He seemed happy with that.

Adult Scissortailed Flycatcher Flying Away - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Flying Away

But these are somewhat enlarged though never more than 100% size.

Spreadwing and tail Scissortailed Flycatcher Flying th eother way - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

It's Got Faint Pink on Belly, So This Must Be a Male

Even though his tail sure seems short.

Adult Scissortailed Flycatcher Perched - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Scissortailed Flycatcher Perched

Perched prettily.

Killdeer with Purple Flowers - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Killdeer Among Purple Flowers

I was just thinking about Killdeer this weekend, wondering why I hadn't seen any lately.

Mockingbird Flapping - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

I've Been Wanting to Photograph a Mockingbird Flying and Flashing those White Patches for Years

And years, but today I had several opportunities to capture those flashers.

Mockingbird with a Bug - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Mockingbird Who's Just Caught a Bug

You wouldn't believe how long I've been wanting to capture our local variety of Mockingbirds, the Northern Mockingbirds flying and catching stuff. Of course actually capturing the very moment the grab onto a bug would be very very difficult. But this one's already got a bug, and that's much, much easier to capture.

Faster and Farther Mock with a Bug - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Faster & Farther Mockingbird with a Bug

I was going to say that Mockingbirds catch flies, too. But I checked first, and they are not also Flycatchers. But I did catch them catching flies and other  bugs today, so maybe just today they were catching flies.

Mock Up & Scissortail on Top - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Mockingbird Up with Scissortailed Flycatcher on Top

I'm pretty sure that's a Mock on the left, and I'm almost certain the other one is a Scissortail.

Today was a truly amazing day, especially getting all those flapping birds to hold still that one second or so, so I could capture them sharp and in focus. Wow.

 

 

Katy, of course, FOS Eastern Kingbirds & That Duck

April 20 2015

 Katy Seems Fine Except - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Katy Seems fine, except her neck appears thicker

I'm not a doctor or even a bird doctor, but it seems like her neck is thicker since she came back from Rogers than before the bulge showed up, and I was the first to see and note the bugled that sent her off to have her wild life rehabilitated. But she seems content.

Eastern Kingbird Balancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Eastern Kingbird Balancing atop of Tall Plant

There's quite suddenly a lot of tall plants for birds to stand on in Winfrey Meadow these lovely spring days. I at first thought this one was flying, but since it hasn't come detached from the plant, it's probably just rebalancing as it bends under its weight.

Eastern Kingbird - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Eastern Kingbirds on top of stalks

It threw me for awhile that the one on the left seemed to have a white stripe where I didn't expect one, but gradually I figured out that's another plant top having been whisked by the wind.

Eastern Kingbird - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Back View Eastern Kingbird
 

E Kingbird - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Eastern Kingbird a Little Closer Up

So maybe I could more definitively identify it. But, for a big change, I think this really is an Eastern Kingbird.

Eastern Kingbird in Full Flight - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Eastern Kingbird in Full Flight
 

Pelican Fishing Close -  - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Fishing Close - 1

Like American White Pelicans do when they fish in groups;s, this one swam with its beak up normal, then …

Pelican Fishing Close - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Fishing Close - 2

… dips its beak into the water as it swims forward …

Pelican Fishing Close - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Fishing Close - 3

… till nearly its whole head and beak opened wide is underwater, and we suppose, catching little fishies.

Pelican Fishing Close - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pelican Fishing Close - 4

It did this over and over and over, often obscured by the leaves on the trees along the spit. It seemed to be catching little fishies, because big fish would have shown distinctly in its pouch, ant they did not.

That Duck Drinking - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

That Duck Drinking

Not sure why, but I've become slightly fascinated by this brown duck. I've seen it around for a couple weeks, maybe much longer, and it's not nearly as beautiful as the Appleyard ducks we had last year, but it's interesting. So I keep taking pictures of it.

That Duck Sleeping - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

That Duck Sleeping

Notice its left shoulder, where we can see its wing feathers where they come out of its flesh. I think. Reminds me of unfledged birds at the rookery, whose feathers have grown in but not yet all the flesh and feathers that cover it.

 

 

My Favorite Boat Ramp Got Busy this Afternoon!
So were some other places I visited.

April 18 2015

 Three Wood Kits for a Close-up - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Three Wood Kits for a Close-up

I've only this spring ever seen one young Wood Duck family, and if this is it, they're down to just three downy young now. The most informative site I found on Wood Ducks today was Arkive, but it didn't tell me how long, on average, downy young Wood Ducks last.

Mama Wood Duck with Three Kits - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Mama Wood Duck with Only Three Kits Left

I'd seen that statistic somewhere recently, but all I remember was "not very long." I remember being shocked about the percentage expected to live to adulthood.

Three Coots and their Reflections - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Three Coots and their Reflections

Dark skies have their photographic purposes when I need a slightly dark background.

House Sparrow and Female Mallard Feeding - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

House Sparrow and Female Mallard Feeding on the Beach

Fem Mals are still beautiful.

Starlings Feeding - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Adult Breeding European Starlings Feeding

Nice of Nature to provide some different species for a change. I visited Sunset Bay early this ayem,, and I didn't see anything I couldn't have much later.

Monk Parakeets - Front and Back - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Monk Parakeets Front and Back with a Great-tailed Grackle in the background,
and maybe a European Starling and definitely a House Sparrow in Front

No Red-winged Blackbirds, thankfully, or we'd have murders on our hands.

And one Parakeet Flies Away - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

And One Parakeet Flies Away

They kept going and coming.

Another Shows Us His Profile - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Another Shows Us a Detailed Profile

It's been very very seldom I've got close enough to our Monk Parakeets to get any great detail like this.

Monk Parakeets render wood for nests - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Monk Parakeets Render Wood for Nests

At least that's what I assume they are doing. Their nests are often trashed and detached by Oncor, whose signs around The Big Hum guarantee us otherwise, but those nests go down often, even when there are no windstorms.

Monk Parakeets Stripping Wood - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Monk Keets Stripping Wood

Instead of buying a new Photoshop program every few years, now it comes via the Internet every month, often "updating" and thoroughly confusing me, because suddenly it doesn't work as easily or well as it used to. All in the name of progress. Yesterday and today, it's been particularly problematic, but eventually, I'll catch up. I hope.

Mockingbird on Red & White Post - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Mockingbird on a Post

Mocks look good with read and green.

Sparrow Flies By - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Sparrow Flies by a Starling, a pair of Monk Parakeets and a Spotted Sandpiper

I recognized the Sandpiper immediately. I've been expecting them, but I better check to be sure. This is, and the book confirms, a breeding adult Spotted Sandpiper. How very nice. I usually spot them along the front of the dam, but I haven't been there lately.

Spotted Sandpiper Framed by Mallard Pair - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Spotted Sandpiper and somebody dark too small to focus in on framed by a Mallard Pair

More size comparisons. The little black one looks kinda like a swallow, but maybe it's just a chunk of wood on the beach that just happens to look kinda like a bird.

Spotted Sandpiper Profile - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Spotted Sandpiper Profile

I've rarely had birds who would provide profiles.

Spotted Sandpiper with Coot Back -Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Spotted Sandpiper with American Coot Back

Showing just how small the sandpiper really is.

Large But Long-dead Fish - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Large but Long-Dead Fish

Up the hill somewhere.

Event Tent - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Event Tent Earlir this Morning when I couldn't find any Birds

 

 

Buncha Different Birds at WRL; It must Still Be Spring

April 15 2015

 ?? - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Looks a Lot Like a Lark Sparrow

And it'll be back a couple more times today, so we'll have more views to be a little more certain — I'm not certain yet — exactly which species it is.

Those Same Sparrows - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Those Same Sparrows

I spent three-quarters of an hour staring at sparrows in three I.D books, and I'm still not sure which bird these are.

Stripey Sparrow - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

This "striped sparrow" Looks a Lot Different

But I'm fairly certain this is a whole 'nother species.

Mallard Flying Low - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Mallard Flying Low

I can't help myself. Someday a really interesting bird will fly by, and I won't be able to stop myself from photographing it and all this 'practice' will have been worthwhile.

Mallard Hybrid — Maybe One of those "Black Ducks" who've been hainging round the last couple years - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Mallard Hybrid

Maybe one of those so-called "Black Ducks" who've been hanging around Sunset Bay for the last couple years. Maybe somebody else entirely.

The Last Two Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Last Two Pelicans

I keep telling people that the last of the pelicans are always gone by April 15, but these two are still here. Do you supposed Kathy Rogers released a couple pelicans when she released Katy, the swan? Last time she released rehabilitated pelicans at White Rock Lake, they stayed summer, fall, winter and spring two years running, before they finally flew off with all the other pelicans.

Two Pigeons Lying on the Ground at Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Pigeons Lying on the Ground at Sunset Beach

The grayer one looks like a male They may both be. I bet this position has a real, Birder nomenclature for it. I've seen Great Egrets do it at their gatherings around a creek around and after New Year's.

Blue-winged Teal - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Blue-winged Teal

Unusually close.

Coot Lump and BWT -cpry

Coot Lump, Male Blue-winged Teal and Beautifully Illuminated Branches

And near perfect exposures.

Three Blue-winged Teal - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Three Blue-winged Teal and a Coot

The closest and farthest are males, the brown one at the upper middle of this frame is a female.

fem wood tilted - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Wood Duck with iridescent colors

One might even say she's glowing. But what's with the tilt-forward position?

Male Northern Shoveler - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Northern Shoveler

 

 

Red-winged Blackbird nearly murders a House Sparrow
But why?

April 15 2015

 These Guys Look Innocent Enough - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

These Guys Look Innocent Enough Bathing on the Beach

This all happened at my favorite boat ramp at the lake. Interesting things sometimes happen when I drive The Slider just up from the ramp. These birds are bathing on the beach.

Sudden Vamoose - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Sudden Vamoose

Apparently led by the Red-winged Blackbird, they're swooping away. I missed the part that started the story that unfolds in today's journal entry.

RWBB pushes sparrow under - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

RWBB (Red-winged Blackbird) Pushes the Sparrow Under

I might have taken a quick look at the monitor to make sure my exposure was okay. This was happening when I looked up again.

Still pushing it under - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Still Pushing It Under

I don't know why. I don't understand what preceded this action. I don't know what followed it. I just don't know, but I'm glad to have had the opportunity to capture the whole thing on silicone.

Where's the sparrow? - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Where's the sparrow?

 

Sparrow splashing from under - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Sparrow splashing from under.

 

Still thrashing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Still Thrashing

 

RWBB Flyover - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

RWBB Flyover

 

... - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

I wasn't sure what was happening most of this time.

I just kept my finger on the shutter button.

Now what? - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Now what?

 

Red-winged Devil - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

. . .

I've always thought of House Sparrows as meek little birds. Never thought much about RWBBs.

The Chase - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Chase

Many of the actions captured in today's journal are ambiguous. This one certainly is not. I think that sparrow is running/flying for its life.

Near-drowned Body - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

RWBB pulls up the near-drowned body.

 

... - cpyr

Still holding the much smaller bird up. by the nape of his neck

Do birds have napes?

Sparrow v. RWBB - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

RWBB vs. Sparrow

 

... - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Sparrow up for air.

 

Another bird flies in - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Another bird flies in.

 

Like two pals walking on the beach - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Like two old pals walking along the beach.

A happy, healthy Red-winged Blackbird and a much-maligned, battered and torn House Sparrow.

And the sparrow flies away - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The sparrow flies away.

Who took off, soon as it gathered the energy, and the RWBB just stands there looking innocent.

I asked members of Dallas Audubon's Bird Chat (Free to lurk; you have to register to post, but that's free, too.) Forum to learn why this RWBB went so wacko, and Kala King to the rescue, again. She said, "Apparently there was probably one or more of his nests near by. The males can have multiple females on nests in his territory. From the time the babies hatch until they fledge, these male birds go a bit nuts with the aggression. This was a really interesting page I found."

Wow, now that seems pretty logical. I was recently introduced at an art show that featured birds, as a "bird expert," which we all know I certainly am not. There's so many people who know more and better than I. I just grinned and nodded my head in a quiet thank-you. I am an amateur birder, but I have been a professional photographer, and I am getting lots practice photographing birds.

Centuries ago, when I was a Staff Photographer for the Dallas Times Herald, I once got an assignment to photograph Blue Jays who were landing on people's heads when they got too close to the jays' nests. A couple landed on my head, grabbed some hair, then took off again. And I was a great deal larger than the jays than the sparrow or blackbird.

 

 

Wandering Around Taking Pictures of Birds

April 13 2015

Female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on Winfrey Meadow - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on Winfrey Meadow

Of course, Winfrey has meadows on all sides of it, so that's hardly a definitive location. I sometimes tend to be a tad coy about just where I photograph a bird, but I'd just been thinking that The City makes it its special duty to mow this particular field down to the nub just before sprint every year, and they did it again this year. The result of that, I supposed, was that at least six species of spring birds would not be seen here, again. Yet this is one of those species, and there it was.

Mostly Blue-winged Teal - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

A few coots in the foreground,  yes, but mostly it's Blue Wing Teal at the far west of Sunset Bay

I'd like to show you some of those teal, but they were really far away.

The Flying Wing - coot going supersonic - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Flying Wing — American Coot Going Supersonic

 

Mama

Mama Wood with Six Downy Young

 

Wood Duck Serenity - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Wood Duck Serenity

 

Paddler Paddling - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Paddler Peddling

And loaded for fish. He was far out in the bay and seemed to be being careful not to frighten and birds.

Mallards Incoming - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Mallards Incoming and with Something to Say

No idea what he was saying.

Mallard Coming in closer - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Feet-finned Mallard Coming Closer

Not that its bright orange feet are forming fins to keep him speeding along in the same direction. Wet feet dripping.

And Closer - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

And Closer

It's very unusual for me to get this many shots of a bird coming this close this fast.

Pigeon Circles - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pigeons Circle

Pigeons get up off the ground and fly around in circles every once-in-awhile. I keep reading that they are smart birds, but they do this circle thing, fly around, figure out where they are, land, then do it again in again a little while.

Pigeon Circles - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pigeon Circles

I've long wanted to photograph them doing that, and today I caught myself doing just that. Except there were these trees in the way.

Pigeons Circle - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pigeons Circle

Sometimes it's every time I turn around, they're flying around.

Pigeon Circles - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pigeon Circles

Sometimes it's when they're frightened by something imperceptible.

Pigeons Circle - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pigeons Circle

Sometimes the coots get the wrong vibe, and they scare the pigeons.

Low Rider - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Low Rider

 

 

New & Old Visitors at the Medical School Rookery

April 12 2015

No Treaspassing Sign with GE Fline - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Sign and GE Flyin'

Many more species besides just Great Egrets now at the Medical School Rookery.

GE with Nest STick - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret with Nest Stick

But lots of Great Egrets and many more to come.

GE jumps into Flight - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Jumps into Flight

This one looked like it was going to do something, so I paid attention and kept the cam on a tripod aimed in this area.

BCNH in Tree - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Not more than three minutes previous, a woman told me there were BCNHs all the way on the other side of the rookery. Then I looked up and saw this handsome bird. If one holds still for awhile, it's amazing what one can see and photograph.

Two GEs Framed in Blue - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Great Egrets Framed in Blue

Blue trees, blue sky, for awhile there, peeking through the much closer trees, everything was blue.

Wing-flapping GE in Gnarly Tree - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Wing-flapping GE in Gnarly Tree

Stormy sky all day, I think.

Adult Male Breeding Anhinga - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Male Breeding Anhinga at the Top of the Rookery

FOS Anhinga shot between a lot of vertical trees between where  was and where it was. Right where I expected there to be Anhingas, and there was at least that one.  Remarkably good shot considering.

Brown Thrasher - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Brown Thrasher

The Thrasher appeared to be hunting with a young Mockingbird. They're probably related.

Bickering Neighbords 1 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Bickering Neighbors 1

I think I understand that close proximity helps turn neighbors into enemies some times.

Bickering Neighbors2 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Bickering Neighbors 2

In your face.

Bickering Neighbors

Bickering Neighbors 3

But nothing physical ever seemed to happen once the upper bird was down to the humans.\

Bickering Neighbors 4 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Bickering Neighbors 4

Nothing seemed to come of it. I had expected a fight.

Adult Breeding Snowy Egrets - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Snowy Egrets

Note red lores and feet on the one in front.

Adult Breeding Snow Egrets - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Snowy Egrets

Black & White - Anhinga Flying with Great Egret - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Black & White

Anhinga flying in same sky as a Great Egret.

Adult Breeding Great Egret in Flight - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Great Egret in Flight

Good shot, good exposure, good lighting.

Adult Breeding GE past SW Med School - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Great Egret banking Past Southwestern Medical School

Swoop.

The Whole Frame - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Whole Frame

The whole frame: look, especially, at the white and black bird at the center of the frame.

Adult Male Anhinga in the big Middle - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Male Anhinga in the Center of the Frame

Another Anhinga. I was told they weren't visible today, but I saw at least five of them, but only got good shots of three. But then I spent hours there. And, of course, I got dozens more pix of Great Egrets (GEs) doing nearly nothing.

I'll have to work up those gentle Wood Ducks later. Erin sent me another info bit online.

 

 

Coercive Copulation Among Wood Ducks

April 12 2015

 Not Sure What's Going On Here - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Not Sure What's Going On Here

But something's got the Wood Ducks agitated. I count four males and one female in this image. I tuned in soon as I perceived group action. I had no idea what was about to unfold just across the shallow water from Sunset Beach.

Something Happening Here - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Something Happening Here

Moments later, on the narrow island some call "the spit," the recently-rescued Muscovy watches over as five male Wood Duck seem intent on crowding together like Mallards sometimes bash breasts in spring. But let's look a little closer here. That's a female caught in the middle of all those males, with her dappled big and plain brown sides.

And What It Is Is Getting Clear - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

And What It Is, Is Getting Clear

A larger Mallard in the center background, a Northern Shoveler behind the gaggle of males and the only slightly less hemmed-in female and yet another male to the left. They've got her hemmed in, but not much else is happening. Yet. That's an awful lot of color in one small space.

But It's Beginning to Feel Familiar - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

But It's Beginning to Seem Familiar

But here, we can only barely see her yellow-rimmed dark eye and surrounding bright white supercilium amid the ruckus of dark brown bodies. Breeding does not seem to be happening, yet.

Where'd She Go - cpr

Where'd She Go?

Can't see her here, but by now we can assume she's under that bevy of beaks pushing something down in the water on the left. The Internet is rife with tales of rape among ducks, and I've seen offended young women throwing rocks from the pier at ducks doing it in plain sight, but I've yet to see objective reporting on the subject. The closest data I've found to objective info are WebVet's fairly simple page; the more complex Wikipedia page on Sexual Coercion; and the much more intelligent CityPaper story that asks "Is Duck Rape "Rape Rape?"

Erin found this quote: "Forced copulation by unmated males occurs, but rarely, when mated male is overwhelmed by aggressors. A female drowned in one such attack." The citation given for that statement is Belrose, FC, and Holm, DJ. 1994. Ecology and Management of the Wood Duck. Stackpole Books; Harrisburg, PA on Birds of North America Online, a subscription-based site, but Errin says "the fee is very low. It has really great, comprehensive, in-depth information about tones of species. Here's the link with only the first page available, but wit the citation information at the bottom."

I've tried to avoid anthropomorphism in this journal, ever since I found out that applying human mores to bird behavior is usually just plain wrong.

It Doesn't Look a Lot Like Team Spirit - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

It Doesn't Look Quite Like Team Spirit

But there's obviously a team working here. I've often seen gooses join in as guards for such a act as is occurring here, only with male Mallards in charge. Erin and I had just been talking about the comparatively combative way Mallards sometimes do it, but neither of us had ever seen Wood Ducks that close to violence. So this was all new to me, and I kept clicking away all during.

And Too Much Like Force - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

But Too Much Like Force

Note the smallish, partially submerged, dark gray duck head in front of the left-most Wood Duck on the front line. A dark left eye is barely above the roiling surface. The eyes aren't red, but white on gray, so it must be the female.

But She Doesn't Seem Upset - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

She Doesn't Seem Upset

More like dazed. I've seen female Wood Ducks hopping mad and loudly scolding other ducks for some perceived injury or food theft, but that's not what's happening here.

Then Most of the Males Flew Away - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Then, Suddenly, Most of the Males Flew Away

Next time we'll see a much gentler approach to Wood Duck breeding. Today's spectacle was just what happened while I was looking for something to photograph. Erin and I were both startled, but we kept clicking.

 

 

Female Wood Duck with Five Downy Young

April 10 2015

Moma Wood and Five Downy Young - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Mama Wood Duck with Five Downy Young

(If you zoom in on this image, you can see a lot more detail, because in this one image, there's more detail to see.) That's control + (pc) or command + (Mac), and you can probably get away with two or three +s. Use a 0 to command back to normal view or - to do it incrementally. With my old eyes, I see a lot of the Internet at 2 or 3 +.

Not terrible, considering she probably started out within the last few days with 12 or 13, but the attrition is showing vividly. Erin said she'd seen a Mallard female with fluffy young ones. As did I, but I don't remember how many kits there were. It's time for baby ducks, and there should be four or five little flotillas of downy young very soon, if they're not already out there but hiding very, very well. I almost didn't see this bunch, until I saw the Mom. Then gradually I noticed a small bunch of wigglies behind her along the long, thin island across from Sunset Beach.

Kala saw the same brood, as identified by the adult female, with six young just a day or twe before this.

See Ducks Unlimited's Duckling Survival page for fairly scientific-substantiated info.

 

 

Male Great-tailed Grackles Showing their Stuff

April 9 2015

 Adult Breeding Male Great-tailed Grackle - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Male Great-tailed Grackle

I've been attending the lake as often as twice a day lately, and almost all I can find are grackles. Not sure exactly which behavior this Male grackle is practicing. Maybe all of them at once.

 Great-tailed Grackle with Great Tail -Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Great-tailed Grackle with Great Tail

No doubt, these common everywhere-around-here birds are fascinating and beautiful. At least I think so. Some call them "pests."

Male Great-tailed Grackle in Heads=up Behavior - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Great-tailed Grackle in Heads-up Display

And they seem to be practicing their courtship displays lately. Or maybe I just couldn't see whom they were facing off with.

Younger and Older GTG in Heads-up - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Younger vs. Older Great-tailed Grackles Challenging Each Other

Except this one time. Do you suppose a female grackle would choose the puny young one with years to go.

Showing Their Stuff - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Showing Their Stuff

Or the big puffed-out older grackle worth lots of experience?

 

 

The Last three American White Pelicans left,
Wood Duck Flapping, More Grackles Chasing,
Brown-headed Cowbirds, Ross's Goose &
Blue-winged Teal Feeding in a Pond

April 8 2015

 One of the Last Three Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

One of the Last Three pelicans

This is another one of those journal entries devoted to all the various species I've been documenting in the last few days. Meanwhile, I'm gathering more Blue-winged Teal and some decent (I've got lots of not-great) shots of her — Katy the Swan, and I've begun to wonder if her neck is thicker than it used to be.

Two Others of the Last Three Pelicans - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Other Two of the Last Three Pelicans

I think there are only three pelicans left in Sunset Bay. Not sure what they are waiting for, but this season, our 70 or so American White Pelicans left town while I wasn't looking — lost in Taos instead. Last year and in several years previous, they waited until just a day or so before April 15. That usually means the weather now till then will be lousy. We'll see. It was certainly dark and gloomish today.

Male Wood Duck Flap - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Wood Duck Forward Flap

We have several Wood Ducks and many more are on the way soon. I saw a female today towing five juveniles, and they usually hatch a dozen or more, so the attrition has begun.

Full Wide Male Wood Duck Flap - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Wood Duck Full Flap

The Male Wood Duck looks so different with its wings flapped all the way out. That shoulder ring looks like the lock for a spacesuit.

Great-tailed Grackle Proclaiming - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Great-tailed Grackle Proclaiming

Not unlike my myriad shots of Red-winged Blackbirds doing almost this same exact action for the same reasons. The big difference, besides size, is that Great-tailed Grackles don't have bright red epaulets to raise during the most extreme portion of the proclaim — "I am here; where are you? I'm ready to mate; how 'bout you?" they say.

Red-winged Blackbird Stepping - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Red-winged Blackbird Stepping

Looks like he's being jaunty, but he's just being kinda careful on the dock at Sunset Bay. One step at a time.

RWBB Proclaiming - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Red-winged Blackbird Proclaiming

Must be the season for black birds to proclaim.

Brown-headed Cowbirds on Warning Post - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Male Brown-headed Cowbirds on a Warning Post

Saw these guys on the far, downhill side of the one-way street that humps the bump of Dreyfuss.

Brown-headed Cowbirds - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Brown-headed Cowbirds

Popular for being hated for their survival skill of laying eggs in other species' nests, Cowbirds must be fun to hate.

Grackle Chase I - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Grackle Chase I

If the one on the left could catch up with the one on the right, there'd probably be a fight.

Grackle Chase II - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Grackle Chase II

if I remember, when I'm finished with these last two shots, I'll put them with my more recent collection of fighting grackles somewhere below.

Flying Grackle Escape - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Flying Grackle Escape

I keep promising myself to photograph a long series of Great-tailed Grackles (our local variety) flying. They're amazing in flight. A long series, because they're so difficult to photograph flying, out of the expected, long series, I'll probably only get a couple good ones.

Ross's Goose Profile - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ross's Goose Profile

This one, lone Ross's Goose has been with us for — well, I don't know exactly. I could probably do a site search of Ross's Goose, but I mean really, do you care?

Ross's Goose Front quarter - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ross's Goose - Front Quarter View

At the gallery I worked ten years at doing website and photos, I always shot each new tribal entity front, back, side and quarter front view, if not also look down from above and look up from below, too. Difficult to get any goose to comply.

Ross's Goose Flap - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ross's Goose Full Flap

I almost never photograph it flapping its wings, but oh, why not?

Blue-winged Teal in Flight - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Blue-winged Teal in Flight

One of those times when I see some bird nearly silhouetted flying across my vision in Sunset Bay. Photograph it; if it's in focus, maybe I can identify it.

 Blue-winged Teal - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Male Blue-winged Teal

And in the 'back' yard of Stone Tables, we find a small flock of Blue-winged Teal feeding in one of the flood ponds.

Two Males and a Female Blue-winged Teal - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Two Males and a Female Blue-winged Teal

In one of those flood ponds that show up after heavy rains.

 

 

Pigeons Courting (Continued)

April 6 2015

 Tail-dragging Male Pigeon Following Close - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Tail-dragging Male Pigeon Following Female Close

I got these additional pictures today at Sunset Bay, and Kala sent me some of the missing, courting, behaviors from last January below.

Male Pigeon STanding Tall and Dragging Tail - Female Pigeon Sitting - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Pigeon Dragging Tail; Female Pigeon Sitting

The female sitting is a new wrinkle in the courting behaviors. For me. They've probably been doing it for thousands of years.

Male Pigeon Bowing to Seated Female - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Pigeon Bows to Seated Female

But a bow is still a bow.

 Pigeons Courting - Driving (The chase)

Pigeons Courting — The Chase, Called "Driving"

Like most birds, Pigeons court in steps. The chase is usually first. It's obvious. A male — bigger, often puffed up to look even bigger — chases a female to get her away from the other males.

Willing to Be Driven - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male (right) Drives Female (left)

The females seems amenable to being driven.

Pigeons Courting - Tail Dragging - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Tail Dragging

Tail-dragging really looks strange, and though it must work, I never saw it work yesterday, during Easter madness at the lake. Kids were throwing rocks at birds, and when I yelled at the not to throw rocks at the birds, I got evil stares from parental units obviously not used to coexisting with nature. I think there was just too much going on that had nothing to do with pigeon procreation.

Bowing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Bowing

Though I saw these three classic behaviors, I didn't see any billing or mating, the sure signs that female pigeons want to go the next steps toward laying eggs and raising babies. In fact, I did not see any willing female pigeons, at all. They ran, they got bowed to and tail-dragged at, but they did not engage in what looks like kissing (with beaks), and they did not mate or fly away after mating in Display Flight, although several of them flew away.

 Pigeons Beaking Last January - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Pigeons Beaking — Kaptured by Kala

Kala did, however, last January, get some pictures of the missing behaviors, although neither of us have captured pigeons actually mating. Yet. But it's still spring. I have since remembered taking similar photos of this behavior, and I found them, in February 2007, which leads me to believe that Cornell may have one too many "courtship" behaviors on its list, and this 'kissing' actually happens in the dead of winter, well before mating season, not as a part of actual pigeon courtship. See my pix of Pigeons beaking from then.

For more info on pigeon courting, see Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's What's So Special About Pigeons that illustrates the other two behaviors. 

 

 

Battling Grackles, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Shovelers
and A Great Blue Heron among red-eared Sliders

April 5 2015

 Grackle Battle 1 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great-tailed Grackle Battle the First

I've often seen these mock battles but rarely succeeded at photographing them well. This shot was taken at Sunset Bay, a little toward Winfrey from the pier.

Grackle Battle 2 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great-tailed Grackle Battle the Second

It was fast and furious, and I have only a few ideas what it was about — siring rights or rights to controlling a flock or just because it is spring and grackles are a feisty lot.

Grackle Battle 3 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great-tailed Grackle Battle the Third

I don't believe either of these fighters were injured in any way except their pride. I saw no blood and no indication of actual physical injury. Like egrets' much more showy and large-scale mock battles, this must be about something humans may not fully understand, even if we do it, too.

Grackle Battle 4 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Great-tailed Grackle Battle the Fourth & Last

Then they calmed down. Stared at each other awhile, then flew off into their separate directions. Lots of sound and fury, but what exactly it signified is elusive. They probably knew, but I'm just glad I saw them and finally got to photograph them doing it. These are my first three shots. The rest were all out of focus.

Tufted Titmouse - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Tufted Titmouse in Greater Sunset Bay

I heard a repeated clear whistle in the trees overhead through Greater Sunset Bay's extended owl country, and eventually tracked down (or up) this energetic bird who looks much more like Sibley's drawings than the ones in the Lone Pine Birds of Texas, but Keith A. Arnold and Gregory Kennedy's description is much more verbose and interesting:

Tufted Titmouse in Greater Sunset Bay - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Tufted Titmouse in Greater Sunset Bay

"They are often the first to detect danger, which they scold with loud harsh notes that attract other birds to help mob the predator. A breeding pair ÷ will maintain their bond throughout the year. Young from one breeding season will often stay with their parents long enough to help them with nesting and feeding duties the following year."

Tufted Titmouse - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Tufted Titmouse

"Forages on branches and occasionally on the ground for insects, spiders and seeds; also visits bird feeders."
 

Northern Shoveler  Pair - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Shoveler Pair

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology calls this species "perhaps the most outwardly distinctive of the dabbling ducks" … Its elongated, spoon-shaped bill has comb-like projects along its edges, which filter out food from the water"

Male Northern Shoveler - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Northern Shoveler

Wikipedia says, "It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across most of North America, wintering in southern Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Central, and northern South America." In North America, it breeds along the southern edge of Hudson Bay" and as far south as the Great Lakes west to Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon."

Shoveler Pair Circling - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Northern Shoveler Pair Spinning for Food

Ducks.org: the Male's" bill is black in breeding plumage and the legs and feet are orange. During display, males with utter a repeated, liquid, hollow "g-dunk g-dunk g-dunk" in flight as well as from water."

N Shovelers Pinwheeling - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Circling Leads to Spinning

After going faster and faster in a circle, this Shoveler pair continued the circular motion by pinwheeling around and around in a manner not dissimilar to Phalaropes, whose feeding is described in the Lone Pine Birds of Texas as whirling "in tight circles in water to stir up prey." Back to Shovelers but from the same book, "dabbles in shallow and often muddy water; strains out plant and animal matter, especially aquatic crustaceans, insect larvae and seed; also takes small fish."

Male Northern Shoveler - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Northern Shoveler

They winter in California; coastal Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico; and the north and central highlands of Mexico. Wintering habitat includes fresh and brackish coastal marshes, and ponds. Saltwater wetlands are generally avoided. Northern shovelers are common winter visitors to Central America, the Caribbean and northern Colombia, and are found occasionally in Trinidad (Scott and Carbonell, 1986).
 

Yogapose Great Blue Heron Hovering over Turtles - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Yoga-pose Great Blue Heron hovering over Red-eared Turtles

Well, it's not really hovering, it just sorta looks like it, because its feet are lost in shadows. But the turtles are real, and there's more on either side.

And this concludes my first Sunday wrap-up of all the birds and other beasts I've photographed this week but never quite found a place to show. Most Sundays I'll just take off.

 

 

Snowy Egret Dancing

April 4 2015

 Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 1

One of the great entertainments at Sunset Bay today was this Snowy Egret — probably my FOS — fishing. At least that's what the Snowy thought it was doing.

Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 2 

It probably doesn't know from dancing.

Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 3

It caught at least a half dozen fish while I watched and photographed.

 snowy dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 14

— and was remarkably sporting and amazing to watch.

Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 4

But what it was really doing had to be dancing.

Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 5

I have, for many decades, enjoyed photographing humans dancing — mostly modern, with ballet when I couldn't find something more interesting. Tap, folklorico, even engaged in a little stand-and-shake myself from time to time. Won a Twist contest when that was new.

Snowy Dancing -Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 6

But this was way more spontaneous without losing an ounce of goal-orientation.

Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowing Dancing 15

So elegant, yet sometimes so raggedy.

Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 7

And all through it, amazing fun to photograph and try to keep up with.

Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 8

All these images are in my usual, chronological order, despite the Snow Dancing Numbers, which are in the order I picked and post-produced them.

Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing  9

But you hardly need a camera to dig this dancing display.

Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 10

Started after I'd been standing on the pier at Sunset Bay awhile and noticed a flash of white motion not far to my right.

Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 11

Click and chimp a couple times to get the exposure close — little white bird moving sudden and fast on a dark background. Then watch for awhile till it engaged in what I knew and hoped it would do soon and often.

 Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 16

Then, when I got most of these up, on this page, I realized they were all right-facing, so I added some lefties into the still chron-logical sequence.

Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 12

Dancing like nobody's business.

 Snowy Dancing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Dancing 13

I got about two hundred in all, which is always a mistake, 'cause the more I shoot, the more I have to sort through. But I just couldn't help myself.

 

 

Eared Grebes Along DeGolyer Drive

April 3 2015

Profile of an Eared Grebe - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Profile of an adult breeding Eared Grebe

One Eared-Grebe is amazing. I've photographed singles of them right about this same spot before (must be something below the surface that attracts them; they kept diving, even before I showed up). Yes, those are large black feet under its posterior.

Note: I decided last night while I thought I was sleeping, that I'd been too zealous with contrast and color intensity for today's shots, and I redid all of them, toning them down, so these improved images were much more realistic.

Four Eared Grebes Swimming Away - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Non-breeding and Breeding Eared Grebes Swimming Away

But five is some sort of miracle. I know I counted at least five. But there were more than that, I think.

Eared Grebe on Degolyer Drive - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Eared Grebe just off DeGolyer Drive

I was too busy photographing to count more, but I got the impression there were seven. They didn't make it easy.

Adult Breeding Eared Grebe Riding a Wave - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Eared Grebe Riding a Wave

The water was highly active, and so was the wind. It felt springtime warm but with a nip of winter cold still. Nice mix.

Adult Breeding Eared Grebe Surfing - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Breeding Eared Grebe Surfing

Complete with surfer blonde hair — er … feathers. Feathers of course. But amazing feathers. But not really like ears.

 Surfing Eareds - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Today's Last Surfing Reference

Though I hardly posed them out there.

Adult Non-breeding and Adult Breeding Eared Grebes - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Adult Non-breeding and Adult Breeding Eared Grebes

They didn't stay together or even dive together — although when one or two felt intimidated enough, they all did — and I would have needed a wide-angle lens to keep them all in the frame, and of course these are all at 300mm on my un-zoom.

Eared Grebes Diving and Swimming Away - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Eared Grebes Diving and Swimming Away

When they weren't swimming away, they were diving deeper than I could see.

 Adult Breeding Eared Grebe Diving - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Grebe Diving

This one looks about as much like a cockroach as an adult breeding Eared Grebe diving. I love those squiggly splashes.

And Splooshes Under - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

And Splooshes Under

And I love this splash and the innie wet implosion with Eared Grebe parts showing.

Two Grebes Swimming Left - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Two Grebes Swimming — a Breeding Adult and a Nonbreeding Adult

Nice parallel comparison. I assume these birds are related.

Three breeders - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Three Adult Breeders of Differing Sizes, Colors and Configurations

And I may finally have learned how to spell DeGolyer.

 

 

Three Pairs of Wood Ducks; one Female Mallard & a Turtle

April 3 2015

 First, One Male Shows Up - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

First, One Male Shows Up

Couldn't get into Sunset Bay, because they were having a race. Very nice cop at the bottom of Poppy Drive couldn't let me in. Well, I could come in, but I couldn't bring my car. Duh, no thanks, Officer. I drove around the lake and ended up in my, oh, second or third favorite hunting ground at White Rock. Maybe fourth… I'd hate to have to rank them. This one's easy. Closer than the other side, like Sunset Bay.

Then There's a Pair of them - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Then There's a Pair of Them

So, anyway, I ended up at The Old Boathouse Lagoon. I saw an egret even before I got out of the car, but I was hoping for something more colorful. Guy and his child was halfway across the bridge. He said that's a big lens, and I agreed. We chatted briefly while I began photographing whoever showed up. First one pair of Wood Ducks, then another and then still another. Total of three pairs. And later one female Mallard. I could still see the egret, but it was too far away.

Male Wood Duck with Open Beak - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Wood Duck with Beak Open

I've read that it's usually the female duck who quacks. I've watched, and I know it's true that the males just swim around looking pretty, although the female Wood Ducks are gorgeous, just more subtle.

Male Wood Circling the Water - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Male Wood Duck Circling in the Water

I keep remembering after I've photographed some birds that 'they' say that we should photograph birds at their own level. But we can see a lot more of the duck if we come at them from various angles. Specifically, we can see more differences among the three Wood Duck pairs in today's entry, although the same bird in different lightings can look entirely different.

Female Wood Duck Diagonal - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Wood Duck Diagonal

So all of today's journal entry is about seven ducks. I also photographed some American Coots, but I didn't like those photographs. I say today's J is about the Woodies, but what today's Journal entry is really about is the ripples in the water, although I wasn't paying much attention to those. I was following every Woody who came close to the bridge. The closer the better.

The Woods Together - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Woods Together

I didn't really have anything in mind. Just documenting the birds who came to me.

Female Wood Duck Speeding Off - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Female Wood Duck Speeding Off

Not at first, but what happened well into me photographing ducks this evening was the guy and his daughter throwing bread into the water near the ducks. Normally, I recoil at the notion of feeding bread to ducks. It just seems wrong. But today, I didn't want to mess with the nice humans. I just wanted to take some photographs of something more interesting than the flock of Great-tailed Grackles I'd seen along the DeGoyler Estate earlier. It felt wrong to pass them up, but I'd hoped I'd find something more interesting.

Swirling Female Wood Duck - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Swirling Female Wood Duck

So these aren't the same ducks over and over. And there's at least three pairs of Wood Ducks in the Lagoon, both kinda positive news for that place, one of the two major places I watch the swift growth of baby Wood Ducks at White Rock. The other is the lagoon up the creek from Sunset Bay. Each pair can have as many as 15 ducklings, the vast majority of whom will never make it to the ripe old age of two or three months.

I'm not sure we need even more Wood Ducks in Sunset Bay, but if you'd like to have a hand in growing some in your neighborhood — or some other bird that might be attracted to it instead, here's instructions to Build a Duck Nest Box from the National Wildlife Foundation. Be forewarned, however, this is not a build it once and forget it project. Ongoing maintenance for Duck Nest Boxes is required.

Red-eared Slider - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Red-eared Slider

One of a half-dozen to pop their heads up out of the water under the bridge this evening. They wanted some of that bread, too. But they seemed shy. They'd dive down when they saw me point my long lens at them. Then disappear altogether till thy popped up somewhere else close.

Female Wood Duck Stare - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Brief Female Wood Duck Stare

I'm trying to give both sexes more or less equal time on this page. But I've almost always liked the rather more subtle and far less clownish females more of my attentions. All the while sticking to my usual organizing principle — chronological order. Note the green patches on this femaleswings here. The other two females show only blue with the susual browns and tans.

Wood Pair Heading Out - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Wood Pair Heading Out

I couldn't possibly keep track of which Wood Duck pair was in any photograph. Or when one pair arrived and another took over after that.

Female Mallard - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Subtle Beauty of a Female Mallard

I don't remember seeing a male mallard this evening, but I usually notice the females. They're not anywhere near as interesting-looking as the Wood Duck females, but they have their style, their subtle colors and indigo wing stripes, and I tried to bring those colors out in this shot.

Wood Pair Togeterh Again - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Wood Pair Together Again

The water in this, the latest of these shots, seems so much more sunsettier.

 

 

Last Month    Index of Pages    A year ago   White Rock Lake Map    

All text and photographs Copyright 2015 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 2006, and most of that is documented in this Journal. I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally yet always amateurishly since 1964.

hits counter stays with monthly content.