May-June (Mandarin Study incl.) 2015






JUNE 28, 2015

Below is an extensive section celebrating my discovery and collection of images of a "Mandarin Duck Family"!

It demonstrates that these rare ducks are successfully breeding in Utah!!!


Having a hunch that I might discover Mandarin Ducks with offspring, I'm pleased to present the following posts,

(5 installments)

showing A Mandarin Duck Family, in the Wild, (Salt Lake City, Utah)

(My Wild Mandarin duckling images seen here are likely the first published for Utah.)




A photograph depicting an entire Mandarin family

(Breeding Male/Female, and 2 offspring hatched this Spring).




Introduction to Mandarin Family


I first discovered this handsome

Male Mandarin...



And, a short distance away... emerged an adult Female Mandarin!




Bird photography doesn't get any better than this spontaneous

classic mated pair swimming together.




I noticed a duckling swimming a short distance from the male, and recognized it to be a MANDARIN DUCKLING!




Shortly afterward, I saw the entire gang (2 adults-2 juveniles) swimming upstream



A short time-out while the offspring foraged along the bank, with Parents waiting patiently.




Back into the water they went, alongside the adult Male!






Continuing with their father...



And joined up with their mother!




All along the way, the juveniles were foraging.



Close-up of the female and a single offspring.



Adult female and progeny.



Going around a bend,



where the offspring again forage on land






A protective mother, scrutinizing her offspring...



An Ultra-Closeup of the offspring reveals a distinctive bill nodule, with a telltale color.... truly a Mandarin ducklng (not Mallard!).



Other duckling images depicting the telltale bill configuration



Again... with the adult Female present as before.



Contrast the Mallard duckling here...




With the distinctive Mandarin duckling bill (along with another revealing feature... the ever-so-slight appearance of an emerging


(More about the eye-ring will be revealed in a later post.)




The foregoing images were just a small number of the 1st Day collection.

The proud mated pair hovered closely to their charming duckling offspring, all of which are "transplants from EAST ASIA!"







Continuation of a healthy, active family!


My 2nd morning with the Mandarin Family, found them all together, in bright sunlight!




The male Mandarin was in the process of "Courting" the female...




with his lofty strutting!






Parents are joined by now-awake offspring!



The female Mandarin duck did some 'strutting' of her own!



The 2 healthy Mandarin ducklings went to forage on land again.



Close by, I discovered a 2nd adult pair of Mandarins basking in the sun



No ducklings with these 2 birds...



Ultra-closeup of female...






A Noteworthy Visitor to the Mandarin Family!


Immediately, as I arrived one morning, I detected a newcomer to the Mandarin Family playground!

A lone 1st Spring Male Mandarin (close to maturity!)



A cute little bird IMHO, sporting a thoroughly disheveled set of feathers!



The new bird (L), compared to our Family Male (R)






Here, the Family Male (Breeding plumage) is on the left side... both in close proximity yet peaceful.




The 1st Spring Male Mandarin began to swim away, providing me with the opportunity to photograph it in more detail.










Compare this young male...



To the adult Breeding Male (Family) bird!




I now concentrate on the above adult Breeding Male (Family) bird, as he goes looking for his family group!




A distance away, they wait for the Male to appear.




The Juveniles show considerable growth compared to my first encounter.




The Trio slip into the water to join the male.




Reunited again!






Male Mandarin Protecting his offspring.


This particular morning sees one of the juvenile Mandarin offspring venturing out alone...




While its parents doze on the sidelines




Unbeknown to the sleeping parents, another adult pair of Mandarins appear in close proximity to the juvenile!







Closeups of the alien pair... (female)







At this time, the Family pair awaken and swim close to protect the juvenile! (Family adult female, (L) background)

Newcomer female (foreground), too close for comfort for the duckling!



The juvenile (far right) bolts away from the alien female, which causes the family pair (female-extreme left... male-right center,) to come to the rescue!




The Family male attacks the alien female!



and chases her into flight!



I wasn't prepared for this fast action on an overcast day; unfortunately I was using a slow shutter speed! ...but you get the point!


Every day I chronicled the Mandarin family, the Male took a major stance of defensive protection (not like Mallards where the male disappears early on!)




Within moments, the 2 juveniles met up with their "Mom"...




and their combined behavior became one of closeness!



A performance I had never seen before...









Patience pays off for me, as I usually spend considerable time under such circumstances!





Odds and Ends


Due to an untimely, unexpected disruption of My Mandarin Gang...


A "Roundup" (removal) of waterfowl (mostly geese; but ducks also) by a government agency one day saw the abrupt halt to my continuing Saga of Mandarins!!!

Afterward, the Mandarins ceased to appear!

So, with this installment, my story ends...


Male Mandarin playing with what looks like a small fruit on this last morning.



Notice this juvenile (center) has the eye-ring and stripes of its mother at this point in time, and is similar in size.



One of the 2 offspring came up missing permanently!




Last Family Portrait with the Survivors...



I'm assuming this juvenile will become an adult female...






Like its parents, this duckling is aggressive!




I'm speculating the the 2nd juvenile would have eventually matured into a male, looking like this very early 1st Spring male, (occupying the same waterway).



Another view...






Speaking of 1st Spring Male Mandarins, I documented 4 of them at this location, indirect evidence of successful mating and survival!




Another example of one of this years' 1st Spring Male, also a handsome result!



Same bird...




Same bird again...




Here is still another of this years' successful hatches, albeit this bird is really strange looking!







So I'll wait for next Spring (God willing!) to do even better with Mandarins!

My next year's plan:

I plan on discovering an active nest, here in the Salt Lake Valley!



















June 16, 2015

The Murray-Jordan River Parkway was my most recent walk, hoping for birds to photograph...

There I encountered an adult Killdeer...




along with a single tiny Killdeer fledgling, zipping around, making a difficult photo opportunity!









Most of my haunts have a few Black-chinned Hummingbirds... as is the case at the Jordan Parkway







My First of Year Neotropic Cormorants were on Mill Race Pond in Taylorsville, adjacent to The Jordan Parkway.

Neotropic Cormorants have, until recently, been considered a


Here are 2... a juvenile (R) and an adult non-breeding NECO (L).



Close-up of the older NECO shows no yellow in the lores, and a V-SHAPED GULAR...




The juvenile is distinctive, having an 'eye ring' along with

FEATHERED yellow lores, and a V-Shaped Gular.



Another view...



Here is a Double-crested Cormorant (DCCO), swimming near the NECOs...


The differences shown here, along with the NECOs being about 1/3 smaller in size, are the hallmarks of proper ID of Cormorants in Utah.



Another view of the Double crested Cormorant, showing yellow (skin) lores, and a U shaped yellow gular (under chin).











June 14, 2015

I ventured over to Crestwood Park (see additional imagery from Crestwood HERE)

Foxes were present; but birds were small in number with most being common...

Lots of Black-headed Grosbeaks in this park!





A male, vocalizing.




Another male...




A Red-tailed hawk at Crestwood Park...




Another view, just prior to the arrival of an...



aggressive Sharpshinned hawk. (notice it has blood on its talons!)




Another view of the "Sharpie" before the pair became airborne.




The smaller Sharpshinned hawk delighted in pestering the Red-tailed hawk!




The Red-tailed landed in a distant tree.



with the smaller hawk disappearing.















June 6, 2015

Things are quiet where I walk (Big Cottonwood East Park) these days,

with only a few birds to photograph, most of which are always there...

with the exception of a Western Wood Pewee (flycatcher).




This little bird was flying, coming nearly to ground, catching flying insects while midflight himself!




A somewhat larger bird, a Western Kingbird... also a Flycatcher... was nearby.



Eurasian Collared Doves, Alien birds from across the sea, have become year-round residents locally. They compete with our own Mourning dove.



A native bird, the Brown-headed Cowbird, has the distinction of laying eggs in other bird species' nests, thus avoiding the process of feeding their own young!



A nice-looking bird with a terrible inborne behavior!












May 25, 2015

Odds and ends from yesterday, at Big Cottonwood Park...

Portrait of a Fox...




With an 'itch'!




Birds, pairing up...




House Finches...



A single Black-chinned Hummingbird...



Another single... a Song Sparrow...




And a dreaded (among birds) Cooper's Hawk!










May 24, 2015

A big surprise (season-wise) for Big Cottonwood Park this morning...

There were several Evening Grosbeaks on the north side of the park, skulking in the deepest, darkest old Russian Olive trees!






Both sexes were present; however, I didn't succeed in capturing a female image today.




Also today, I discovered my first Flycatcher of the year!

An Olive-sided Flycatcher!






















May 23, 2015

I had a reader email me with the recommendation that I post the entire name of "Big Cottonwood Park", since she and others have become confused by the Internet offerings under that name.

The entire name: "Big Cottonwood Regional Park EAST"!

I'll do you one better... click on the above name!


Today, I continue to monitor the light outdoors, hoping for a break in the gray skies long enough for my walk in said park.

The light continues to diminish due to thickening clouds, portending rain!


So I take this opportunity to post a couple of images from yesterday (much like today regarding quality of light!).


In the park, I've been surprised by discovering more Garter Snakes than I've ever seen there before!!!

The image below was taken near the Children's Playground, where a snake was hiding within a sidewalk crevice.





Earlier I made comment regarding the Russian Olive trees' fruit being used extensively by a wide variety of birds in the area.

At this time of year, the trees' flowers attract insects,




which in turn, attract gorgeous birds such as the Western Tanager male seen below, yesterday!

(note the insect lodged in the bird's beak)




So, we have a 2nd example of Russian Olive trees' importance:

1) in providing food for foraging birds, with the olives; and also

2) by attracting insects!



Stunning birds... currently browsing the park for food!














May 21, 2015

A simple visual statement here, from yesterday, Big Cottonwood Park!

2 Cedar Waxwings, close-up, doing their traditional food transfer between one another, using residual RUSSIAN OLIVES!




Time will likely DEBUNK the myth that non-native "Russian Olives are BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT"; people who now are pressing for the trees' eradication could end up eventually "EATING CROW!" (click here)




Also from yesterday at Big Cottonwood Park, a gorgeous male Western Tanager amongst Russian olive leaves and blossoms, in pursuit of insects!




Foxes are appearing quite regularly these days...














May 19, 2015

Some fun birds are now at Big Cottonwood Park, some of which I show here:

Chipping Sparrow (lots of them!)




another Chipping Sparrow




and yet another Chipping Sparrow!




Western Tanager Male








Female Western Tanager








Black-chinned Hummingbird




And, as always, a male Black-headed Grosbeak singing away!!









May 17, 2015

Hoping to bump into the Sora again today, I took my prime Nikon camera/lens to Big Cottonwood Park; but I was only able to hear the bird, never seeing it!

The Sora had moved away from the main pond and was hiding in a small puddle just north of the pond, in heavy Russian olive territory.


So, I photographed other birds, including:

Male Downy Woodpecker




Fledgling House Finch




And the omnipresent Black-headed Grosbeak!














May 15, 2015

After a space of several years, today I discovered that we now have Sora back in Big Cottonwood Park Pond!!

Oh, I wish I could have used my best camera system; but I'm still currently using the Canon SX50, which is infinitely lighter to carry while I continue to recover!

Big Cottonwood SORA, May 15, 2015 (Canon SX50)



Again...(Canon SX50)




and again...(Canon SX50)




Also today I discovered my first Swainson's Hawk at the park, in the old dead tree that the Harlan's hawk occupied during Winter.

(Canon SX50)




again...(Canon SX50)







May 14, 2014

Getting my strength back with a walk in Big Cottonwood Park. Equipped with the tiny Canon SX50 camera, I enjoyed photographing a pair of newly-arrived Black-headed Grosbeaks!

Male Black-headed Grosbeak, (Camera: Canon SX50)




Female Black-headed Grosbeak










May 12, 2015

Mountain Bluebird


(Today's images are from my stock files)

76 years ago, I, as a three-year old, stood by my mother's side in our Doctor's office.

I remember him telling her that I had a 'hernia', present at birth.

So, I began my life with the knowledge of a little 'time bomb' near my navel.

Fast-forward to today, when, after all these years, I'm now recuperating from corrective surgery, temporarily limited to my home as I heal.


In preparation, days before surgery, I dusted off my tiny Canon SX50 camera, and refreshed my skills with it, along the Jordan River.

The purpose of doing so, was to provide me with a camera light enough to stay within the weight restrictions set by my current doctor.


The tiny camera continues to impress me; and it will serve me well (less weight!) as I soon will be outside walking, as the Spring bird migration, with it's brightly colored birds is here to greet us!


Wilson's Warbler




Western Tanager



Yellow Warbler



Western Kingbird



Prothonotary Warbler (rare)
















May 3, 2015

A ultra-closeup of a male Downy Woodpecker from the Murray, Jordan River Parkway with my new "fixed" Nikon 300mm lens!

The bird was too close to include its full image from where I was standing!

(There are times when "zoom lenses" would be desirable; but comparing image quality, the "fixed" prime lens trumps any zoom lens)



The Jordan River was teeming with huge spawning carp!




A male Greenwing Teal who couldn't fly, cruised the water in "Stealth"

fashion, hoping to become invisible to predators!




Closer to shore, it became more relaxed!




A lone American Crow allowed me to get close enough to 'fill the frame'




The area had a consideragle number of California Quail...




This quail shows up quite well, being backlit.

(I wish to emphasize, ALL of my images are taken with a hand-held camera.)




A close-crop of the above image shows the amazing detail from the (hand-held) new lens.




Further south on the Parkway (Willow Pond), I encountered a lone Eared Grebe, bobbing leisurely, basking in the sun!