118 photos so far this month. I too often forget to update the number. Best shots this month: Killdeers Rousing The current Bird Journal is always here Cameras Used Ethics Feedback My Other Bird Pages: Herons Egrets Heron v, Egrets Links & Bird Books Pelican Beak Weirdness Pelicans Playing Catch Rouses Courtship Behaviors Banding Birding Galveston 2015 & 2013 2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds page & the 1st Bald Eagles at White Rock Coyotes JR's resumé Contact Dallas Bird Resources: Dallas Bird Chat Bird Rescue Info You want to use my photos? How to Photograph Birds Birding Places: Bird-annotated Map of White Rock Lake & Spillway & the Med School Rookery & Village Creek Drying Beds MARCH BEST PIX: Red-tailed Hawk Up Close, Female Aplomado Falcon, Red-shouldered Hawk Slowing Turning Around in a Tree, Cedar Waxwings, Barred Owl Straight Up, Adult Breeding Neotropic Cormorant, Young Egyptian Goose Family with Two Kits, Black-bellied Whitling Ducks + Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Scaups in various Poses, Killdeer Rousing ! Please do not share these images on Pinterest, Tumblr or other image sharing sites.
I love to post other photographers' bird pix here, too, and I will watermark them with your © notice and web URL. Email at least
one, one-meg jpeg to jrcompton 23 @ att.net (no spaces) with your name & the bird's common name in the file name.
Big Bird, Itty-bitty Bird and Giant Metal Bird Over White Rock Lake
Photographed March 23 & posted March 24
I knew its head and tail configurations, but wasn't absolutely certain who this was. Had never really noticed the back feathers. Handsome critter.
I heard, but did not see it in another three across the street. Then I saw a pink, white and black flutter to another tree, then I heard its sound again here, right on the edge of Sunset Beach. Looks fairly straight on, but I was shooting well up the tree and having a lot of trouble getting the bird exposed correctly without overexposing those leave below it.
Showing my sister Mary Ann Who, the lake and what was the biggest bird that flew us over? A B-17 — very similar to the one Daddy piloted into Pearl Harbor early on December 7, 1941. That plane was named "Mary Ann," from which MA got her name, according to family legends. I heard it before I saw it, and I knew exactly what it was soon as I laid eyes on it, although it was still difficult to believe. And all three of us were thrilled.
I Googled the tail numbers and found this: B-17 Flying Fortress Surving Airplane … Nine-O-Nine.
Catching Up with The Last Coupla Days
at White Rock Lake — posted March 22
Photographed from The Slider from the West Side of White Rock Lake. I'd just got turned around, so my driver's side view lined up with the Ruddies, when they started taking off en masse.
I guess I was so amazed, I just kept watching instead of photographing. This was the last Ruddy Duck to leave, and I'm amazed how well I managed to capture detail in him. And his just-left steps across the water were still splashing right to left.
It didn't suddenly get bigger, nor did I zoom in here. I don't have a long zoom (yet).. I just enlarged this shot more than the others, so we could see the details better.
I'm pretty sure the reason we have domestic gooses loose in Sunset Bay is for comic relief. More of that next time I do one of these day entries…
I'm guessing four or five Pelicans. It's been awhile since I've seen a lot of pelicans in any one place. They may already have begun going back to wherever they came from last September. I'll miss them. They're usually gone by Tax Day, and that's coming way too fast already.
I first saw the growing mob of Turkey Vultures as I was about to turn onto North Buckner (Loop 12) from going toward the lake on Garland Road, which I had until a few weeks ago always assumed went east and west. I turned around at my first opportunity then went down Emerald Isle Drive past first Barbec's, then the baseball fields, where I caught this shot way too far away from the vultures.
Not sure where exactly I was when I shot this, but I was closer to the vultures till they veered off the path of the road I was on and headed where I could not follow. I still have the dream to take digital photographs of a bunch of TVs (Turkey Vultures) tearing apart a fresh carcass. Somewhere in West Texas many decades ago, I got the chance to photograph such a bunch shredding a large dead animal but on film, and now, of course, I can't find the original.
Digital keeps much better and longer and smaller.
I've had these since our San Antonio Trip, and I just haven't found a place for them,
but now, I know they belong right here — posted March 21
I remember having just previously seen a red-headed woodpecker, which I never quite caught up with across the fence line from the road where we were in The Slider watching. Then I saw this motley pile of red, and I got excited. And within fractions of a second, it flew away.
Not the same one, but a more representative Male Cardinal photographed within seconds of the previous one.
I don't know my farm chickens, so this shall remain "White Chicken" till someone who knows these things tells me better.
One might call today's selections "grabbing at straws." I like that. My — and most other people's birding outings can often be like that. I kept hoping it would move closer or more obvious. Then it flew off.
I thought I could probably name the bird at the right, but obvious as it was, I muffed it. Turns out all three are House Sparrows (which makes a lot of sense anyhow), with the male on the right and two females center and left, according to long-time bird journal Contributor Kala King.
Can't really see much of its tail, but what little color I see back there matches the rust of this pole very well. I'd started watching this hawk when it was farther away, then it got closer, in strict contravention of the rules of birds and birders, except I was in the driver's seat of The Slider, so it wasn't afraid of me or the car.
And a little farther away.
I should know these guy's species name, but like so much else I don't remember it. I keep wanting to call them Pea Hens, but I don't think they are.
I do, however, remember seeing some things that looked very much like this one in a large aviary cage at The Dallas Zoo. There it represented wild birds from some far-flung country. Here (in rural San Antonio) we assumed it was a farm animal. Me, I like birds wherever I can find them — even ugly ones.
I've begun to be able to readily identify most of the bigger birds I can see with my glasses, but the littler ones are mostly still strange and unknowable, although it seems likely that this one is known by a great many birders who are not me.
I know this one's first name is Art.
For awhile out there in lost, far-out San Antonio, we kept seeing these tumbled weeds seemingly firmly attached to overhead wires. We liked them, and we copiously photographed them. They had also attached themselves to fences, trees and tree-limbs.
I didn't want to just re-rephotograph the Great Egrets
again, so I paid my attentions to the Anhingas —
photographed & posted March 19
Looks like this juvenile Anhinga has got its beak ensnared in a bit of red cloth or something as it flies over the Southwest Medical School Rookery with another Anhinga — sister, brother, mother, cousin or aunt. The red cloth must be a nuisance, but it neither seemed life-threatening nor to be anything I could do about it.
Still couldn't just ignore all the egrets flying thither and yon over the rookery, but neither Anna P nor I saw any other large bird species in, over or around the campus or rookery.
And I only wanted to show these two egret pix.
When there were Anhingae in the air, I needed must pay attention to them.
There's often wild birds along Canada Drive, so we went there, too. And Canada Gooses along Canada Drive just seemed perfect. I assumed that white thing in the back was the ubiquitous plastic bag.
Then we drove home over Dallas' own [different link/more pix]: Santiago Calatrava bridge.
Weekend Birding & Other Pursuits Involving one Barred Owl,
Several Cedar Waxwings & a Variety of People
All photographed This Week & Last + Posted March 18
Driving toward Sunset Bay proper, I saw a small crowd gathered over in Owl Country, most of whom were pointing various configurations of telephoto lenses nearly straight up into the trees. I joined them briefly, then left the area, so the owls wouldn't have to suffer my presence, also. I should probably have mentioned to the other photographers that gathering below these guys often makes them very nervous.
Both these are of the same owl though from slightly differing angles. I've seen one fly recently, but I was too busy watching it fly to take pix of it.
I'm always drawn to painters and other artists at the lake.
And, of course, birds.
Please not that all three of these shots were aimed nearly straight up into these small birds.
I know my berries significantly less well than I know my birds, but this guy is almost in focus, and if you knew what berries they were, you'd know a great deal more than I do, which as far as berries are concerned is hardly surprising. Thanks to Anna G for the tip on the Cedar Waxwings.
Their special, souvenir beer — or other — cans seem to say "Daniel & Gabby 3/18/17."
I'm just amazed it's in focus.
I shot other pix of birds, but few of them were anywhere near as good as today's owl or even Waxwing shots, so I've left them out of this.
Troy, The Aplomado Falcon at the Dallas Audubon Meeting
with Falconer Patrick Johnston
Thursday March 16 at Half Price Books — & posted that night
I try to attend any meeting anywhere in the Metroplex when there are live birds to be photographed, so when I heard Dallas Aububon was going to have live bird, I went, only later finding out there would be only one bird, because Johnston's other falcon was male, and the two don't get along all that well. One was more than plenty, and Patrick was quiet-spoken but very knowledgable about falconry.
Patrick spoke awhile about falcons and falconry, and the crowd of a few more than sixty people paid apt attention. Then he took off the bird's hood and talked even more.
Instead of my big Nikon, this time I used my little Panasonic Lumix GX-8 with my short, 12-35mm (25-70mm equivalent zoom), and most of the time that people and art lens was just perfect for the occasion.
We all breathed a sigh of relief when Patrick Johnston took Tory's hood off. She continued to be a perfectly-behaved falcon.
I Tried to get all my San Antonio Pix here, but I'd rather show
you my more recent White Rock Lake pix.
Photographed March 14 — and posted March 15
I saw it flying up the hill toward the parking lot I was parked on the lake-side edge of, but I couldn't tear myself away from watching it fly low up to there to take pix of it, although those pix would (might) have been far more interesting than these, but sometimes I just gotta watch instead of photograph.
It was close enough to nearly fill my 35mm frame (24 x 36mm) on my full-frame camera, so there's lots of detail and pretty decent focus.
As I watched, it kept turning to face various directions, which was really great, so I could get all sides of it.
I don't think I've ever watched a Red-shouldered Hawk long enough to turn all the way around and show off all its details.
I've been photographing up a storm at White Rock — and will continue, so there'll be more tomorrow.
More Birds from Our Visit to The Rookery Adjacent to
Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas
Photographed March 11 — posted March 15
When you say Snow Geese fast enough, enough times, the words blur together to become "snoagie" for one and "snogies" for more. I have tried spelling it snowgie, but it just looks wrong, so I've settled on it as above under this photo of a Snoagie at the lake (that looks and winds like a river that flows under the SW 24th street bridge and past Our Lady of the Lake University [formerly here called Our Lady of the Lake College, because that's what the nearest sign calls it, but now I see it on Google Maps as University.)] in Southwest Central inner city San Antonio, Texas, USA.
I see also that the previously largely unnamed lake is called Elmendorf Lake, which is fed by Apache Creek and which, in turn, feeds Zarzamora Creek (or maybe vice versa, I don't know.) The creek stops being a mapped creek but continues as a concrete-lined viaduct-like body of water wrapping itself around the area called Memorial Heights.
Really weren't any of the usual, later summer crowd at The Lake of Their Lady — which will include Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, maybe a Tri-color or two, Great Blue Herons flying by and other exotic species, but it was very nice to see the college had not destroyed the rookery island that must really stink up the place later in summer.
We didn't see anybody in these nests, but there's sure been a bunch of busy birds here before we arrived. Then again, maybe the nests are serially inhabited. I know Great Egrets reuse nests, so probably so do cormorants. Notice in the nests in the photo below that they are somewhat smaller than the egret's, which we really can see here:
This was shot from the other side, where the newish (They were still working on it the last time we visited this rookery.) and much smaller but more accessible parking lot is.
Soon, soon, there will be various other egrets and herons, but for now, all we saw were Great Egrets, and they probably wouldn't have been there unless they were Adult Breeding Great Egrets.
This is early in the season, and by mid-summer, every branch will be covered with nests for various species of cormorants and herons/egrets.
At first I called this a Double-crested Cormorant, but the more I looked at it, the more unusual / strange it looked. Neotropic Cormorants' lores () don't surround their eyes, like this one's don't. Double-crested Cormorant's lores do, if only slightly. Their heads opened beaks are shaped differently also.
Then there's that white around their orange parts that Double-crested only sometimes have — just to keep easy identification or differentiation, difficult.
I've yet to see the rather tame looking — almost all black except a white spot on the wings and the red bit over its eyes — Muscovy Duck as painted by David Sibley in both editions of his The Sibley Guide to Birds.
I like Muscovies, because besides being immense, they are friendly to humans.
Or as much of the important bits as I could manage to include through my non-zooming telephoto lens as shot from the far side of the creek / lake / bridge / whatever. I would have got more of it in the picture if I'd turned the camera sideways, but that's really only practical when it's on the tripod, and even then it's a hassle.
Egyptian Goslings & Gooses at Our Lady of the Lake
Rookery in San Antonio, Texas
Photographed March 11 — posted March 13
When Anna and I are in San Antonio to visit my mother, we almost always also visit the lake that looks like a river snaking past the big parking lot at Our Lady of the Lake College, where we usually illegally park. The church parking lot was packed full, but we'd already planned to park in the new but smallish City Park parking lot, then walk back to the college side on the City bridge.
We've seen many bird species there over the last decade-plus, but this time we got to see these handsome gooses with their young …
… in great detail. Note the lines of quills awaiting feathers to become wings in this shot— and others down today's journal entry.
I'd hoped to include the usual — although it's been awhile since I quoted them — pithy wisdom from the Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas, but I couldn't find Egyptian Gooses in it — although they are very clearly raising young here. In his The Sibley Guide to Birds, Sibley gives them a briefly informative mention under "domestic geese."
So I had to resort to the Internet, where I found Gary Clark's story in what I think must be The Houston Chronicle that did not include any photographs of their young or any of them flying (me, neither — but apparently they don't fly much unless frightened — and we were very polite).
Another, more informative article states that Egyptian Geese are mainly found south of the Sahara in Africa, and "some feral birds can be found in the United States." Birders don't much care for escaped tame birds, but we seem to much more appreciate feral varieties.
Me, I like all birds, and I don't make all those picky distinctions. I'd only rarely seen Egyptian Gooses, and I've never seen their young before. So this was quite a treat, and is probably why I went on and on photographing all the members of the family until well past when I was duplicating shots.
That online account under the generic headline "birding information" continues:
"Egyptian Geese are notoriously bad-tempered especially during breeding season. They are quarrelsome and aggressive, very intolerant of other birds, including their own kind. They can even be vicious. The males hiss and the females make a cackling noise.
Egyptian Geese stay in small flocks of family units for the majority of the year, and pair up only during breeding. They usually walk away from danger, seldom flying unless they are surprised. Their flight looks heavy and goose-like, with slow wing-beats. They may fly together in an irregular V-shape formation or in a long line."
We were fairly close — although these are all telephoto shots (about 500mm on full-frame), but we never saw an unkind moment with them.
Apparently, in order to get my spot focus on the bird I wanted sharpest in each pic this rainy-cool sorta darkish day, I kept cropping off bird feet, but this gives you a pretty good idea what the rest of it looks like.
Eventually after Anna and I photographed them for quite awhile — since we'd never see the babies before — they goose-stepped down the sidewalk, then down the grass to the lake. We were careful not to hurry them, but they never once seemed in any way aggressive.
Audubon's page of bird calls — give the page time to load. It includes a lot of birds.
Euro Starlings, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Battling Budgies
& A Few Obtuse Objects, including Minnie — posted March 8
I've been seeing them for about a week now, but this is the first one I've managed to get in sharp focus. A tawdry history in the United States, but a pretty bird, especially now.
I have no idea what the out of focus bird is. The middle bird is a European Starling, and the blue bird with a brown head is a Brown-headed Cowbird. It must be their season, because I see them all around the lake.
… Of a smallish tree. I'm not at all sure how the farthest and uppermost Monk Parakeet managed to obtain a bucket-head.
Sorry, I only got this close to the family portrait here.
Handsome little critter with a mean-spirited history I've told here way too often already. I like them, and I don't really care whose nests they deposit their own eggs into when nobody's looking. Nature has it many way.
I love the obvious and consistently inconsistent signage at and around the lake. This one is along Garland Road going the other way I usually approach the lake, and other than using my telephoto lens, it is an ordinary photograph. My guess is that if I were swerving "S"-ly, I should go thirty, otherwise 40 mph, although most of the time I go considerably more slowly, because I'm watching out for birds to photograph.
I photographed this colorful bundle on the floor of The Middle Spillway as I stood against the black, iron fence along that sloshing body of sometimes (after rains) moving water. I suppose she went body surfing, but still managed to end up on dry — or at least not splashing — concrete. I was, of course, looking for birds, not overgrown plastic mice.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck(s) &
Blue-winged Teal — posted March 8
Beautiful visiting bird. I've seen the out to the right coast and well up into the Hills Country, but it's awfully nice of it to visit here.
I kept missing this bird's visits to SSB (sunset bay for those of us who say it too often already). It looks like it's breathing deep and in the throes of meditation.
Nearly glowing in the bright orange sunset light cas up into Sunset Lagoon.
… while my lens was still focused on where they were when they started creasing and bubbling the water surface when they started taking off.
As well as being a lot closer to being in focus.
Several photographers were complaining that these birds and the Northern Shovelers and some others were staying way out of reach of their lenses. Like the birds were doing it on purpose, and they had no other reason to be back over there doing what they wanted to be doing. Can't blame 'em; I, too, grouse when my equipment holds me back from getting perfect photographs. As if these were they.
A Short Trip to the Dark, Wettish and Ill-illuminated
SW Medical Center Rookery Last Saturday — Posted March 7
I visit the lake almost every day. Often two or three times. It's a place that calms me and/or excites me. We really didn't expect much, and we really didn't get much, but Anna P and I tried. I think we were there on Saturday. The skies were not blue, but the lighting — some of the lighting, anyway — was lovely for some of the few birds we found and got in focus.
Everything under control for this early arrival at the Southwest Medical School Rookery in the big middle of the campus / Parkland Hospital hoo-ha.
It was too deep in the woods — beyond all those branches — to get the whole bird in the picture, but I got its longer feathers.
Odds & Ends Birds Photographed
Later Last Week & Posted March 6th
It's very difficult to determine if a camera has captured such a nebulous form as mist, so I kept shooting at it, and this is the best composition of the bunch. I wasn't really "composing" as such, I was mostly trying just to capture the mist, and the coots were just there. And now I see that coot in the back is a rock.
Standing on the more or less flat middle spillway, where I'm used to finding herons — Greats pretty regularly; Snowy or Cattle Egrets sometimes; Great Blue Herons fairly often; Black-or Yellow-crowned Night-Herons; and Little Blue, maybe even a Tricolored Heron or a White Ibis sometimes but not as often as before — all of whom have been seen and photographed there.
But today, we got one Great Blue.
Mostly Ring-billed Gulls, but may some others mixed in, too. I don't have the patience to inspect each one.
Ditto, just gaining altitude.
This is along the Garland Road side of Egret Island, where today were no egrets.
Now we're back to the pond at The Lower Steps as the water turns and goes under first The Walking Bridge, then the Driving Bridge, then over a short waterfall off toward I30.
Of course I really wanted this to be a Little Gull, but it's way too big, and it wasn't nearly cold enough this morning. A Little Gull is about 11 inches long with a wingspan of 24 inches.
The Bonaparte's Gull averages about 13.5 inches long with a wingspan of 33 inches.
My Photos of a Pair of Red-shouldered & one Red-tailed Hawk,
Plus Kelley Murphy's photos of another Red-tailed Hawk.
Mine were shot March 3 & both were posted March 4
I'd already photographed a Red-tailed Hawk near the end of DeGolyer Drive, but when I saw Shirley Boyd in Greater Sunset Bay (the parts that don't have a lake), she was watching this beautiful, home-grown bird in a tree across the street from where we stood. I thanked her for the vision, and we stood there and watched it pretty much not move for awhile.
Eventually, this other bird flew us over with me clicking away …
I just added this shot March 7, but I took it at the same time as these others.
… while trying to keep it in focus before it got among the trees.
Kelley sent me these two Red-tail Hawk photographs the night before. I hadn't seen any hawks close enough to get excited about, and then suddenly, today was a hawk bonanza.
And I didn't get any side-view, flying photographs, so Kelley's fits right in here. Such a beautiful bird. And a great shot.
Earlier, I had seen and photographed this Red-tailed Hawk along my usual roll along DeGolyer Drive toward Sunset Bay. This shot — as are many of mine — was photographed from the driver's side window in The Slider, my 2010 Prius. I would have had to get out and walk around — an overt act hawks don't usually cotton to, and they generally fly away when it happens — to photograph it from the other side to also get a front view. But I didn't see any way to do that, so this is what I got today. At least it's in focus.
I like Kelley's better, anyway. But when I am presented with a still Red-tailed Hawk, I have to at least try.
I was expecting just about anything but a Muscovy in this tree as I slowly shifted this one into focus. But I am very fond of Muscovies.
Lesser Scaups in More Detail, Nests in Progress & a Suspicious Gull
Photographed March 1 & Posted Early March 3
Handsome hen. So nice of the scaups to gather close to the pier at Sunset Bay, so I could photograph them up close and personal, for a change.
Note the head shape, and the blue bill. These ducks have actually been called "Blue Bills."
I've been wanting to do this multiple views treatment with various birds. Helps me — and maybe you, too — get acquainted a little more with birds who do not maintain a constant presence at WRL.
I think I may actually have made this photograph just to show both you and me this peculiar head shape, although it might have helped that that purplish iridescence showed so well, too. And, for a change, most of his brighter parts actually still have texture or colorations in them.
They drink water or filter stuff out of it, and they can't always fully close their beaks, and they probably don't want to, which give us photographers many opportunities to catch water dribbling.
Not how high in the water he's risen here. I don't know any other ducks with this head shape — but then I really don't know many ducks, at all.
And how much lower he's got here.
Till he's back about to swimming level here.
This is not a new iteration of this nest. We've been watching it for years now. It grows and fails, then grows again.
Neither Anna nor I could tell for sure whether this was a bunch of leaves Nature gathered for our looking at, or a nest.
Seems likely it'll be a residence. That big a chunk of land on that side of White Rock Lake, and I'm guessing a rich person's estate. Should be interesting.
He seems to be giving me the evil eye. Suspicious birds …
Beautiful Killdeers Rousing After Bathing
Photographed February 29 & Posted Late March 1
I haven't been nearly this lucky at my premeditated stops at my favorite boat ramp lately, but this time proved a real treat!
I've selected these shots out of all the shots I made in those fast few seconds there, because they the most beautiful, and all together the show an amazing array of shaking feathers.
I usually think of Killdeer as brown with white accents and red-rimmed eyes. Today we got electric orange and all those dark accents, but ya hadda look quick.
I would rather it hadn't buried its face in its wing feathers here, but it's such a lovely display, who cares?
And this is usually what follows shaking nearly every feather on its body.
But it looks like it's taking a bow. As it should.
But the fact is, I was so busy follow his focus, I never even conceived the question of what its head was doing under the water — if it even was down there.
Now, with this further (and deeper) evidence, I'm guessing the water really is deeper than I thought. But I managed to get the splash and its eye both in sharp focus.
Various ages and sexes and willing- and ready-nesses to breed.
Or J R just forgot what level was as he chased the pelican across Sunset Bay with his telephoto lens.
Except as noted, all text and photographs Copyright 2017 & before by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission from and payment to Writer and Photographer J R Compton. I am an amateur. I've only been birding since June 2006, and the best of that is documented in this Journal, all the pages of which continue online — see links at top and bottom of every Bird Journal page. I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally yet always amateurishly since 1964. A total of 52 years.