Posts from September-October, 2015





October 31, 2015

Yesterday, as I was walking the Murray/Jordan River Parkway, I took a side-trip to see what could be discovered on Mill Race Pond in Taylorsville (just a short distance away from the Parkway trail).

I was delighted to see a Common Merganser on the pond!


At this time of year, it's difficult to determine whether this is a female, or a first-Fall male. My guess is: First Fall Male



For comparison, from another time, this image shows a breeding pair with the Adult female (front).



Yesterday's bird was successfully foraging for fish, as seen here:




I was pleased to capture this series with the bird 'stretching'!











Settling down...



Bright, direct sunlight provided this image...




But a cloud drifted over the sun, dramatically changing the image!




I was surprised to witness a camaraderie between the Common Merganser and a Pied-billed Grebe as they joined together!




Ironically, they both decided to do some preening during this time!




Only to settle down and cruise together for a time... Go figure!!












October 30, 2015

A trip to Antelope Island resulted in a very short list of birds photographed...

Starting with a flyby juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron...



On the Island, I photographed this Cottontail Rabbit sitting in the shade...




Along with a stretching Chuckar,




In direct sunlight, on the Causeway I located several American Pipits...



Bright, contrasty light



2 American Pipits in the same frame, preferring a shaded perch...



In bright sunlight, a Rock Wren...




Rock Wren, backlit


Not much else this particular day at Antelope Island, other than lots of









October 23, 2015

I stand corrected regarding the timing of the Green Heron's departure from Liberty Park.

I have it on good authority that the bird vacated the area BEFORE the Aviary personnel searched the island for an AWOL duck.

The Aviary was, in no way, connected with the bird's disappearance!

Richard Young




October 22, 2015

Having returned to Liberty Park several times now, I was able to locate the Green Heron 100% of the time!


The trick is to look for MOVEMENT...


Do you see the Green Heron in this image which is at 6X camera magnification?




The secret is: Watch for Movement!!!




This particular day, the bird flew onto a tiny island in the southwest corner of the park, making it perfectly viewable!




But, wait... there's more!!

The bird took flight again!!







My camera wasn't set for "birds in flight" when this bird came directly to me, causing some blur!!!



The Green Heron landed just a few feet away, providing me with this once-in-a-lifetime detailed 'head-shot'!










October 17, 2015

For the past 2 days I've been enjoying some 'quality time' with a cooperative Green Heron discovered on the pond at Liberty Park!


Thanks to Bryant Olsen for pointing out the bird as seen here

(far right)



Green Herons are the 2nd smallest heron in existence, with the smallest being a Least Bittern!

Note the size comparisons to a: Ring-billed Gull, and a Double-crested Cormorant.



This Green Heron is a juvenile bird.



At Liberty Park, the bird was successfully capturing good numbers of tiny "Mosquito fish" along the shoreline.



A deep dive with its long beak nets a tiny fish.



as seen here...




This is a "public domain" image of a 'Western Mosquito fish', aka Gambusia affinis. They are routinely distributed throughout the County ponds and waterways by the Mosquito Control arm of local government.



Yesterday's encounter provided me with a nice variety of locations with this one being my favorite (no evidence of 'the hand of man' here!)



Another favorite...




and a 3rd favorite!



However, the Heron seems to prefer the manmade "shoreline"!



This is a 'full-frame' image (no cropping!) of the juvenile Green Heron.




2 years ago, I 'co-discovered' a Green Heron adult, along with Karin Kirschoff at the "Kennecott Nature Center" in Murray.

My current camera and lens system is a noticable improvement, but I decided to post the adult for comparison sake here:


Yesterday's juvenile Green Heron:




July 2013... Kennecott Nature Center, Murray... Adult Green Heron.













October 12, 2015

My previous post (directly below) was devoted to the Harlan's Hawk's behavior at Big Cottonwood Park (specifically, capturing food).

This is a continuation of that post, showing the hawk with prey, along with a few other curious birds watching!


Harlan's hawk landing with prey






Eurasian Collared dove flying in to investigate what's going on






Dove's getting too close!



changes its mind as to where to land.



The hawk sees the dove...



He's nearly finished eating his prey...



Black-billed Magpie is hoping for leftovers.



The hawk has devoured its prey and preparing to move out.



The hawk vocalizes toward an unseen bird in flight.



He takes flight... going where?















Only a very short distance...



Back to the large old dead tree where he prefers to perch for hours!






Here he stays for an hour or so...






October 8, 2015

I begin this post by featuring the venerable Harlan's Redtail Hawk, alive and well in Big Cottonwood Park for the 4th year!

This begins a sequence of images showing him finding his breakfast recently!















He hit the ground here...










And successfully flew elsewhere to enjoy breakfast!



Bird photography in general improved dramatically over the past several days in Big Cottonwood Park!

The first Orange Crowned Warblers showed up...




Orange Crowned Warbler




Orange Crowned Warbler



My first-ever Pine Siskin in the Park!




Another Pine Siskin!



LOTS of Lesser Goldfinches




Lesser Goldfinch




House finches were foraging on Russian Olives...




House Finch




And a remarkable appearance of a huge Great Blue Heron, who circled the pond for some time before disappearing!




The appearance of the Great Blue Heron caused the small birds in front of me to vacate the area promptly!




October 4, 2015

Any of you who cruise Big Cottonwood Park these days, be aware of a lovely Leucistic American Robin I discovered there while taking a 30 minute walk at Noon today!

This is the 2nd Leucistic Robin I've photographed there... the earlier one was on March 19, 2014!

Not much else worthwhile there, albeit the "Harlan's Red-tail intergrade" shows up for brief appearances each day.

Today's Leucistic American Robin:




Another view showing the bird eating a Russian Olive.




The first Leucistic American Robin I photographed there,

March 19,2014... Totally different color/patterns!








October 3, 2015

I've noticed on other bird photographers' websites, where they comment on the scarcity of migratory birds in areas that traditionally have high numbers and varieties of migrants!

That's been my experience also!

This past month I've been looking in areas that typically produce lots of birds in migration at this time of year, to no avail.

I've been lucky to photograph a few birds at each location.



Fall migrant-Western Tanager, Big Cottonwood Park



same bird...



Western Wood Pewee, Big Cottonwood Park



Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow, Big Cottonwood Park



Red-wing Blackbird, Big Cottonwood Park



Male Northern Red-shafted Flicker, (eating Russian olives), Big Cottonwood Park



Swainson's Thrush, Bountiful Pond ("orchard")



Hammond's Flycatcher, Bountiful Pond ("orchard")



Dark-eyed Junco, Bountiful Pond ("orchard")



Forster's Tern with fish, Jensen Park pond











American White Pelican, Antelope Island Causeway



Red-necked Phalaropes, Antelope Island Causeway



Red-breasted Nuthatch, Garr Ranch, Antelope Island



Nuthatch again, Garr Ranch, Antelope Island



Townsend's Solitaire, Garr Ranch, Antelope Island



Townsend's Solitaire



Townsend's Solitaire



Townsend's Solitaire



American Kestrel, Murray/Jordan River Parkway



Cooper's Hawk, Murray/Jordan River Parkway



Swainson's hawk, Murray/Jordan River Parkway



Western Scrub-jay, Crestwood Park



Western Scrub-jay, Crestwood Park




Female Brown-headed Cowbird, Crestwood Park




Spotted Towhee, Crestwood Park

Not much to show in the way of birds, for September!










September 30, 2015

Well... things aren't normal at Big Cottonwood Park regarding birding; but yesterday, I had the extraordinary experience of photographing 2 male Northern Flickers sparring!

This experience was extraordinary since I've witnessed the same behavior for 3 straight years now, at the same location, at the same time!!

To top it off, all three years have had an 'intergrade' male Red-shafted/Yellow shafted Flicker as a participant!

Yesterday, both birds were Intergrades (I.D.= red crescent on the nape of the neck.)


From 2013.. male on right is an intergrade with red nape crescent




From 2013.

Sparring action begins...




From 2013. Intergrade on left.



From 2013. (many more displays ensued.)




From 2013. These birds continually rotated counter-clockwise around the tree!




From 2014. The best location for photography was here (intergrade-L)




From 2014. Intergrade now on the right...




From 2014.




From 2014. (Again, I have many other images of these.)




From Yesterday. Both males are Intergrade Red/Yellow Shafted Northern Flickers.




From Yesterday.




From Yesterday.




From Yesterday.




From Yesterday.




From Yesterday. (3 consequtive Autumns at the same time, same location!




Yellow shafted Northern Flickers are rare in Utah...

The composite images below are from my collection, showing the differences between Red Shafted/Yellow Shafted/Intergrades












September 28, 2015

My attempt at capturing an image of last night's

"Super Blood Moon"

Total Lunar Eclipse

(Nikon D7100/300mm f4G lens/TC1.4 converter)

There was a film of cloud cover that 'softened' my image.









September 26, 2014

Two days ago, Deborah Drain posted her sighting of the famous Big Cottonwood Park East's HARLAN'S REDTAIL HAWK...

On the 25th, I photographed the bird in the same tree that it has used for 4 years!

(early morning...terrible lighting!!)




Taken later in the evening, on the 25th...



Mid-day today (26th)




(I took this image on March 10 of this year, the last time the bird was seen until now!)










September 20, 2015

Big Cottonwood East Park...



1. Yellow Rumped Warblers have arrived!

Appears to be this year's Myrtle Warbler...



This bird is an "Audubon's Warbler"




Same bird as above...



2. Male Downy Woodpecker series:

This bird was foraging in unusual places, like the ripened head of a Sunflower, ripping out seeds!



Slightly different angle...




Another location close by, where the bird attacked a cattail...



The bird worked its normal habitat for food... a tree!



The bird found a tasty bit of vegetation at the end of a twig.




A bit of sensory experimentation using his tongue...



Morsel disappeared!



So did my little male Downy Woodpecker!!!















September 15, 2015

So far this year, August-September birding results in Big Cottonwood Park have been disheartening compared to the previous 6 years!!!

Below are some random birds I've photographed there under better conditions!

Ash Throated Flycatcher!



Gray Flycatcher



Hammond's Flycatcher



Western Kingbird



MacGillivray's Warbler



1st Fall Plumbeous Vireo



Cassin's Vireo



Warbling Vireo



Loggerhead Shrike



Wilson's Warbler



(RARE) Tennessee Warbler!



White-Crowned Sparrow









Western Scrub Jay



Spotted Towhee



Townsend's Solitaire



Ruby-Crowned Kinglet



Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker



Nashville Warbler






Virginia Rail



Belted Kingfisher



Juvenile Male Mandarin Duck



Lark Sparrows



Black-headed Grosbeak



Orange-Crowned Warbler



Yellow-Rumped Warbler



Cedar Waxwings (Juvenile L); (Adult R)



Yellow Warblers



First Fall Male Western Tanager, ironically, eating a Russian Olive!!!



American Goldfinch

These images represent perhaps 1/3 of the species I've photographed in Big Cottonwood Park during the months of Aug-Sept. over the past 6 years!


So far this year, there are very few birds being seen!!!











September 10, 2015

Walking Big Cottonwood East Regional Park late last evening, I discovered the SORA is back!!!










These images were taken from the wooden deck, facing east.



The bird vocalized multiple times




This morning I discovered my first ever Male Common Yellowthroat, in cover at the northeast side of the pond!














In September of 2013, I photographed my first female Common Yellowthroat at the same location of the current male!



female Common Yellowthroat...














September 9, 2015

After a summer of poor birding (for me), I was invited by "Deedee" to join her at Farmington Bay Wildlife Management Area where we did have a variety of birds!!!

Upon entry into the area, we discovered 2 juvenile Wood Ducks

(a male and a female) on the first pond on the west side of the road!



Another view... These birds 'ducked out of sight' in short order!



The same pond had these 2 Snowy Egrets

(Notice the reflective pattern on the birds from sunlight bouncing off the water.)



Here they are again...



American White Pelicans were present by the hundreds!









A Black-necked Stilt stretching...






A Greater Yellowlegs stood by...



Another Yellowlegs in the company of a Killdeer.



A pair of backlit Clark's Grebes (one with a baby riding on its back!) were bouncing about, due to a stiff wind!








The birds were always facing away from us, darn it!



There was no shortage of Snowy Egrets!
















A lone Double-Crested Cormorant took to the air...



This year's Forster's Tern in flight...



A spectacular capture, if I say so myself!



My opinion of this bird is: Juvenile Western Grebe






A few American Avocets in 'non-breeding plumage' flew by...








A Black-Crowned Night Heron flew by...

(Notice the green coloration in the bird's shaded plumage. This is due to reflection from green foliage below.)



We discovered a non-breeding Black Tern (my first!)




The Franklin's Gull provides some scale to the Black Tern's size.






I believe this Black Tern exhibits "Eclipse plumage"



This is just a portion of Black Terns hunkered down due to the stiff winds.



Franklin's Gulls were a delight to photograph as they hovered in the wind!









Black-Crowned Night Herons hovered as well!



This one was vocalizing as he flew by!












With the wind whipping up the ponds, Grebes were difficult to photograph!





Juvenile and Parent Western Grebes.



Thanks again Deedee! That was fun, even in the wind!!