Right after I graduated from Ohio State (actually, one week before I graduated), I started working for a company called American Woodmark that is based in Virginia. Their rookie training program had me jumping around all over most of the Southeast, with a stay in Dallas in August of 2007. I quickly found the city’s best hot spot for birds and spent a few afternoons there. Looking back, I wonder how much better the birding would have been with nicer weather (we had two straight weeks of 95+ degree heat with humidity, immediately followed by Hurricane Erin). But nonetheless, I had many lifers at White Rock Lake on the east side of downtown. Observe:
Upon disembarking from my flight and stepping foot on Texan soil outside of DFW, I saw several of these birds, went “Whoa!” and immediately dug my camera out of my suitcase to take pictures right there in the airport parking lot. I had never seen them before, so naturally I was excited. I probably could have waited a little while to paparazzi them, though, because it turns out that in Texas, Great-Tailed Grackles are about as common as Pigeons. Oh well.
Another lifer for me was the Western Kingbird that I saw once I got to White Rock Lake. This gentleman remains the only individual of the species I have ever seen.
As I made my way to the northern side of the lake, I heard the biggest racket created by hundreds and hundreds of these Monk Parakeets. After going back to the hotel to look up this bird (obviously not in my field guide), I was able to identify them and also learn that the population in Dallas goes beyond escaped and feral pets. The colony is well-established, with most of the birds likely being born in the wild. They have also become a nuisance animal, building huge stick nests on utility poles that occasionally catch on fire.
The common American Coot presented a good photo opportunity.
As did the much less common (for a northerner) Snowy Egret. I am, however, at a loss as to what species of turtle that is.
The lake also harbored one of the densest swallow populations I have ever seen.
So I tried to get artistic with my photography. I still wish I had tried to get an actual photo of the Purple Martins.