Red-wing Blackbirds East of Utah Lake State Park
Personal Web Site
Updated: November 28, 2015
This site reflects my current passion for photographing birds.
I have been photographing for over 50 years; and am now retired from a satisfying profession beginning in Biochemistry, and ending in Biomedical Photography.
Below are links to my most recent nature photography. Hopefully you will find as much enjoyment in viewing it as I do in creating it.
The photos on this page are changed frequently.
Older posts are found by clicking the rectangular "buttons" on the left side of this text.
Questions-Comments about this website?
Contact me here:
My images are copyrighted and I ask the courtesy to not use them without written permission.
November 28, 2015
Recently I visited "Willow Pond" at the south end of the Murray/Jordan River Parkway.
I was surprised, during my less than 1 hour stay, to see 3 different species of birds with goldfish in their mouths!
A Ring-billed Gull was the first...
In a dive, the bird connected...
Next was an American Coot, being chased by other birds, wanting the goldfish...
And, finally there was a Pied-billed Grebe with a goldfish...
There were lots of Pied-billed Grebes, floating together in a large expanse of water. Here are only a tiny few of them...
November 24, 2015
Believe me, I've been looking for birds to photograph on my walks; but they aren't available!!!
However, this particular day I had a good time with a single Ruby-crowned Kinglet that provided a nice variety of 'poses' for me.
With the 'clicking' noise of my camera's shutter, the bird presented its 'ruby crown' big time!!
It seemed like this bird was intentionally posing for me!
With a tip of its head, the 'ruby crown' was on display!
Many more excellent images were collected this day, with the bird continuing even as I left the area!
November 19, 2015
Leucism in Birds...
Recently, my friend, (and excellent photographer), Dickson Smith posted a Grebe on "Ubird", as a leucistic Eared Grebe.
"Leucism" in birds is when their normal plumage colors are absent, and replaced with white.
Upon seeing the image, I suggested to Dickson that his bird might be a more rare bird for Utah, a 'leucistic Horned Grebe'.
Dickson agreed with me.
I asked permission to reproduce his image on my website to demonstrate leucism in some of the smaller Grebes.
(used with permission)
From my files, I fetched an image showing a partial leucistic Eared Grebe, winter plumage.
This image shows the 2 normal species, side by side.
(smaller-Eared Grebe- forward; larger-Horned Grebe- back)
both in winter, non-breeding plumage.
Let's first look at the Horned Grebe and its variants...
The Horned Grebe below has normal winter non-breeding plumage.
The image shows the telltale 'blood drip' beginning at the eye, then to its beak, as does the Horned Grebe above.
Horned Grebes are scarce in Utah at any season.
Here is one in Springtime, with its Breeding Plumage!
And here is another image of the same bird.
Another Horned Grebe in breeding plumage, shows its telltale
eye-to-beak 'blood drip' that marks the species.
Back to my image of both species together in Winter...
We now look in some detail at the smaller species (front), the
Eared Grebe in Winter plumage
What does it look like in Breeding Plumage?
Here is an Eared Grebe, Breeding Plumage, up close and personal!
This image is from April.
These birds distinctly show varying plumage transitions in Springtime, with the center bird being in its maximal breeding plumage.
I summarize this series by including an image of Eared Grebes, with one leucistic among them.
November 16, 2015
I always enjoy chronicling bird behaviors; and I wish to present such an event from a day in July.
On the Causeway at Antelope Island, I first encountered a lone Willet, as it was about to fly to another location to meet up with others.
(Notice, it is completely surrounded by tiny brown flies.)
I enjoy seeing Willets in flight... they are beautifully marked and demonstrate it best while in the air!
This particular day was overcast.
The bird joined 3 other Willets, quietly sleeping on the shoreline.
Some distance to the east, was a small community of Long-billed Curlews, several of which decided to check out the Willets at their location!
Three of them joined the Willets at this time! (one exiting to the right)
Nap-time was over for the Willets standing by, as the Curlews began staging with each other!
(2 Long-billed Curlews at the left chasing each other; and one on the far right taking flight.)
I have video of this, but still images load onto the web much faster.
For those of you not familiar with Willets and Curlews, the larger brownish birds are Long-billed Curlews, sharing the frame with 4 Willets along the shoreline.
Curlew fleeing another on the ground by taking flight...
2 other Curlews were going at it close by.
The staging Long-billed Curlews inadvertently succeeded in scaring the Willets away with their antics!.
The scene ends with bare space and no birds to be seen!
Further south at Farmington Bay, the light became better shortly after I captured this image of a Snowy Egret!
Bright, direct, frontal sunlight!
end of sequence...
November 14, 2015
At the time I took the merganser images (seen below today's post), at Mill Race Park pond, 2 airborne Belted Kingfishers zoomed past.
They were far away, but I was able to capture satisfactory images for the web.
Below is a sequence of 7 frames for which I'm pleased!
As an experiment, I created a montage of the series, seen here:
November 13, 2015
The "Common Merganser" duck I discovered on Mill Race Pond in Taylorsville on October 31 is still there...
Seems to be enjoying his new home...
Some close-ups of this bird...
I've been watching e-Bird reports of Common Mergansers...
None seen yet, albeit there have been a sizeable number of Red-breasted Mergansers reported thus far this season (in the Salt Lake Valley).
And I close out this post with a cool little Black-Capped Chickadee seen there also!
November 10, 2015
Notice the "Blackbird Banner" at the top of the page...
I was most fortunate to have so many birds take to the air, bathed in the golden glow of a late afternoon sun, just a stone's throw from the Utah Lake the first week in November in 2010!
There have been a few other times that Red-wing Blackbirds have graced me with their presence, sometimes in very unique ways.
I've resurrected a series showing 2 male Red-wing Blackbirds fighting mid-air a few years back!
My favorite from this series...
The images say it all...
But before I leave my "Blackbirds" topic, here are 2 final, more peaceful images:
Red-wing Blackbird male vocalizing...
Female Red-Wing Blackbird with a spider for an unseen fledgling's dinner!...
November 5, 2015
A Pied-billed Grebe on Sandy Pond surfaced with a nice fish!
A lively fish at that...
Here, the Grebe was swimming with the fish in its mouth, directly away from me... (Fish appears to be a Bluegill)
In an instant, a 2nd Pied-billed Grebe appeared, wanting some of the action!
Seconds later, quite a gang of hungry birds had appeared!
The bird decided to escape with its prize...
A series of images with the bird running across the water was the result!
Game Over, the Pied-billed Grebe earned its prize!!
November 2, 2015
Looking for birds in the Salt Lake Cemetery, we ran across a very healthy Coyote wandering the grounds!! (a tad late for Halloween!)
The animal continued to be out in the open for the better part of an hour! Here he was running briefly through an open area.
Details of photography of the above Coyote on this particular dark, cloudy day:
Camera set at 1/400 sec., with aperture at f7.1 and 'Exposure Compensation' set at +1.
The camera's 'auto-exposure' feature was activated with the resultant ISO being 5,000.
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'!
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!
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
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!)
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
House finches were foraging on Russian Olives...
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
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
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!
Earlier posts for the year 2015 can be seen by clicking on the links below:
(includes my Utah-Mandarin Studies)