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DallasArtsRevue     J R's New White Rock Lake Journal

J R's Guide to the Birds of White Rock Lake
All words and images © 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any form.
Birds of New Mexico & Arizona & Texas' Rio Grande Valley  Comments? email J R

The Birds of White Rock - Egrets  Herons  Egrets vs. Herons  Mockingbirds  Grackles  Redwing Blackbirds
  Ducks, Flycatchers, Starlings
.  The Journal: JuneJuly, August, September, October, November,
December,
January + this month. White Rock Trail, White Rock Creek & my White Rock map.

birding & lake links   my bird books   feedback   The Egrets vs. Herons page is now fully illustrated.

Walking The White Rock Trail North
Stories + Photographs by J R Compton

Birds Index   Daily Journal   Herons   Egrets   Herons vs. Egrets   Biblio   Up The Creek

J R and Anna walk the White Rock Creek Trail from White Rock Lake, north to just past LBJ. First, into a brief, city-surrounded near-wilderness area, then up through the grime of the city, and north of LBJ Freeway, where the trail disappears into a slender forest surrounded by the sounds of traffic on Central Expressway.

July 1 — The First Leg Up

Dista Vista - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Dista Vista — a long and winding path
through trees and wildlife forever north

A bicycler stopped us to ask where was the North Trail (He said it went all the way to LBJ.) a couple weeks ago, and we hadn't a clue. But I'd been meaning to follow the mysterious path north of Mockingbird Lane at Lawther West for months, talked with folk who do, one said there was hawk that flies up it every morning...

Today, finally, I walked the walk. And loved it.

Treeg - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Egret in a Tree

Got over flown by a Little Blue twice, up and down, saw Yellow-crowns just standing mere feet from the path, another in a tree, two eegs in trees, a lot of bicyclers wearing the same T-shirt and darned few walkers or joggers. No more than two dozen total when the rest of the lake park was inundated — no parking spaces left.

I walked about four miles total. My far point was just north of the Subway on Skillman near Royal, where I tried to get a breakfast sandwich, but they wouldn't open till 8. Next time I'll start there and go north again. LBJ?

July 2 — Of Hawks and Horses

Didn't quite make it to LBJ, just Walnut Hill. Round trip, according to Anna's pedometer, was over 4 miles. I used to be so proud to walk two.

overpass underpassage cave bridge creek curve

The route north from Skillman is more urban than south to the lake. Wider swaths of green, more bridges over, along and through. Streets and residential areas are plainly visible, though the Parks Department was watering trees that eventually will help hide those. Lucky residents, except it feels more like a mild park than a wild trail. Pity.

On the southermore path it's difficult to get up much ire for development. Here, it's scary. I'll walk north till the trail runs out, but I doubt I'll come back except to find and photo the hawk.

Hawk Far - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. 
   Hawk Detail - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Actual view, left. Over-enlarged, not quite pixelated,
view, right (The left wing is tree, not bird.)

Far fewer birds, except that hawk I'd hoped to see but hardly expected this quick. Brought my wide angle lens, sharp but not good for birds in tops of far trees.

This might be a Red-shouldered Hawk. According to Birds of Texas, they like to perch high and prefer wet woodlands, medium-sized mammals, small reptiles and only an occasional bird, which may explain abundant birdsong nearby. I thought I'd know a hawk by other birds' silence.

Back-biting Symbiotes - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Back-biting Symbiotes — actually
very friendly, but shy of that fence

Major wild life we found was horses, maybe 100 yards off the trail. Anna's still fond of those, so we got up close. Too close at first; she got zapped by the electric fence. We were especially taken by a tall, gray, tiny-spotted, attractive horse Anna called Seurat Pointillism or Appaloosa; the horse lady called a Roan; I suggested "Dapploosa," but its official name is Fleabitten Gray.

Fleabitten Gray - copyright 2006 by Anna Palmer

Fleabitten Gray - photo by Anna Palmer
Notice how much bigger it is.

The minor wildlife we barely saw at some distance (me standing there gaping, not thinking to raise my camera) was a family of five dark, rounded, smallish-to-medium-sized mammals (nutrea? beaver?) scurrying across the street and trail north of the Fair Oaks Tennis Center intrusion into our wilderness exploration, not far after we passed the hawk.

July 4 — Ever Northward

The Bench - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

coolest bench yet

Way less wild the norther we go along the Appalachian. er... White Rock Trail north of the Equestrian Center, today's starting point. Makes day before yester's complained-about trek seem like backwoods.

Equestrian Color - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Equestrian Color

We saw one hawk twice in too-quick glimpses to photo it; one plastic bag egret (looked so much like an egret, till we got much closer); mockingbirds (yeah, they're ubiquitous, but I'm hoping if I mention them specifically, one will fly perpendicular to my vision when I have a camera in my hand with the lens aimed in its direction, so I can high-speed pan it to capture that distinctive striping flash of wing); cardinals and tons of other birds, but no real egrets or herons.

Fore - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

most of today's trek involved
circumnavigating a golf course

We also saw: an old friend — first serious stop and talk since we started our extended journey; the best bench yet (comfy if minimal); too much commerce; several beaver (?) dams in the creek behind the trees along the trail; and it almost rained.

July 5, 2006 — The Longest Leg

Trash Meadow - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Trash Meadow the Day After July 4

Our longest chunk of the trail yet. Just under six miles round trip. Not that we planned it. Just worked out, because we wanted to get to LBJ before we went back. That seemed more important before we did it.

Store Closing Balloon - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Store Closing Barrage Balloon

From the Fourth of July trash scattered across the park where we started, to the red and white sales balloon that hovered over the trees not far up the trail, and all those ugly buildings and visual clutter interrupting what we had come to expect as more like a wilderness experience, today's journey was the most disappointing yet of our northward hike.

United Texas Bank - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

United Texas Bank towers beyond

It was the most visually diverse trek yet, and we're still inspired enough to keep going, ever northward and a little east toward Keller Springs, which the map I saw shows as the headwaters of the mighty White Rock Creek (although I've since learned the source of this mini-Nile is actually near Frisco, Texas).

Shiny Under - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

It's not all ugly.

Somewhere without us quite noticing where exactly, the creek turned from the mud and dirt banks of a natural creek into a paved canal of water that stunk and foamed.

Snowy Fly - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Egret Flying Over the Channel

Birds don't seem to mind, even the big ones that catch our attention. We saw maybe a half dozen Snowy Egrets, Two Great Egrets and one magnificent Great Blue Heron, all in or just over (flying) the channel. No little herons, however. They're shy.

Bird House - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

bird house or holes in the tree

Bats? - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. 
Bird House Closer - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

 Bats? and that bird house with a bird

Looks like they're attempting to attract more flying creatures to the area. And that can only help. Now, if they could delete some of the clutter. Or plant a whole bunch more trees. No way to turn back the clock on this area, but it's be nice not to have to see Forest Avenue for the trees.

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

Bridge Cartoon

I think I understand this person's eye-popping distress.

Water So Clean It Foams - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Water — You Know It's Clean If It Foams

Blue Cross - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Visual Clutter

It's a busy place, with lots of big distractions and important little attractions.

Yellow Tongue - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

The Yellow Tongues of White Horsenettles

Sunflower Fence - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Sunflower Fence Along

Sun Flower - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Sun Flower

Junk Buildings - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

The Joy of Buildings Along the Trail

The brown Parks Department sign on the right suggests trail riders and hikers "Report Trail Concerns Hazards and Suggested Improvements to 670-8351." A line of trees along the city side of the trail might help.

Featherhead Graffiti - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Some of the more in- and e-volved graffiti

Accentuate the Vertical - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Accentuating The Vertical

Green Tunnel - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Tunnel of Green

Great Egret - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret and Reflection in the Canal

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

Forest Lane Bridge

In the darkest shadows under the Forest Lane Bridge a big guy was camping out, lying lengthwise in the path, some sort of pillow and his pack. He was still there when we came back.

Help Stamp Out Graffiti - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Help Stamp Out Graffiti

Stamped Out Graffiti - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

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

Short Bridge Through Green on one side of Park Central Dive

Building Boxes - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Big Steel & Glass Boxes on the other side of the street

Glazed Over - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Glazed Over

Path - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Path Almost Hidden from Road

Medical Waste - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Medical Waste

We joked about that red bowtie shape in the puddle at the bottom of what the bridge above was over being medical waste, since we were across the street from Medical City. But it was just a paper cup amid all the other clutter people throw in creeks along a path through industrial areas.

Bikers and hikers don't litter, but fisherman and tourists do.

Arch - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Arch

LBJ At Last - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

LBJ At Last!

Black Shrroms - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Black Shrooms in the Woods Nearby

LBJ Screen - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

LBJ Screen

Rest - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Anna At Rest with Sunflower

Parking Lot Bells - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Heading Back South

We talked about catching a bus or calling a cab — we were so weary and over-heated. Instead, we noshed at a SubWay along the Great North Dallas Chip Channel and wearied our way south, taking far fewer photographs and keeping one foot in front of the other, falling back home.

Outstanding in their Field - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Out Standing in Red

Great Blue Chinning - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Chinning

Weary as we were, when I spotted this largish Great Blue Heron way down below us in the channel, we were quietly amazed. He just stood there. The only muscles moving were its tongue, which wavered in its open beak, and the muscles along his lower cheek, which vibrated as if he were chewing — or gargling.

Ledge Sitter - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.
Ledge Sitter with Biker

Water Crossing - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Water Crossing

DSP - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

DSP Graffiti

TNT - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Left-over Fireworks back at Trash Meadow
in the Park at Greenville and Royal

July 8 — The End of The Trail

Tree Clinging to the Edge - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Tree Clinging to the Cliff

Perhaps just as I have procrastinated writing this end of our story, we procrastinated ending our walk north on the White Rock Trail. After hiking and sweating every morning those days, striving ever northward, this final leg was easy, anticlimactic.

We parked in the lot just south of where we'd peaked last time out — it hardly seemed momentous — and walked north, stopping as we always do at every beaten path, every potentially scenic overlook.

White Rocks in Creek - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

White Rocks in White Rock Creek

I was surprised to see the creek wide and green below us, filled with big, bright, nature-polished white rocks. I wondered whether the creek and the lake it supplies was named after the rocks here or the scattered few in and along the lake itself. History, as often, is unclear on the details.

The creek here was the most scenically beautiful we've seen — and deep. Only a few inches of water in it then, but the whole creek bed was dangerously far below us, off a rocky edge in the active condition of disintegrating, falling and taking big hunks of earth with it.

Trees clung to the edge and protective fences were sporadic. Deep drop-offs awaited the unwary. It was a fitting and somewhat spectacular end to the official trail. On the map, the dotted line stopped just south of LBJ in that last park.

Mile Marker - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Six and a Half Miles — but from where?

There was no signage indicating the end — or the beginning — of White Rock Creek Trail. This mile marker was as final as it got. The friend we'd met on the trail said the part of the trail she biked daily was 8.4 miles long, so we have no idea from where this 6.5 miles measure began, although I vaguely recalled a 1 somewhere well south.

Under LBJ - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Under LBJ

This is the most beautiful photograph I've ever taken of Loop 635, more commonly known as LBJ Freeway, the outer loop that once defined the far edges of urban Dallas.

Trail - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Trail North of LBJ

The sidewalk, fences and wide spot between the trees and wide, empty fields continued north of LBJ, and we followed, past where the edge had crumbled and large chunks of the wood fence and the stretch of sidewalk that had supported it were sliding ever so slowly but precariously into the creek, a taller chain-link fence screening it as it did.

Picture Windows - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Picture Windows under the Last Overpass

Past another parking lot and the end of pavement, minimal signage and only an opened gate and a thin trail under the last overpass, then out into the woods beyond, the path widening slightly past a weathered sign marking the "Valley View Nature Trail," into the dense woods like we'd always hoped the Trail itself would become.

Anna on the Trail - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

After a while, the path forked, looping into the forest, the constant din of not so distant traffic almost louder than the birds all around us. Nature, indeed, although we saw one Snowy Egret twice or two of them once — and lots of plastic bag egrets.

The Golf Side - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Across the creek to the west, we saw a rickety tree house and manicured lawns eventually giving way to another golf course as the thin but worn trail wound near the creek's edge, up and down little and bigger hills, eventually looping back to the nature trail sign, a disintegrating bench, then back to LBJ, the park playground, parking lots, and my car.

Back to LBJ - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

back to LBJ

Today's walk didn't seem that far. We'd have liked to follow the creek northwest a couple more miles, then come back and done it again the next day and the next. But it was over.

 

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

No reproduction without
specific written permission.

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