A Smoky Summer Alters Great Salt Lake Sunsets!

 

Personal Web Site

Updated: August 20, 2014


Links to other pages...

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Please Note: the photos on this page are changed frequently. Older posts are found by clicking the rectangular "buttons" on the left side of this text.

The most recent posts can be seen by clicking on the Button, "Past".

 

Questions-Comments about this website?

email:rby@isp.com

 

 

From Another Life...

Aside from Biomedical and Bird Photography,

I was a biochemist, Research Faculty at the University of Utah,

College of Medicine, during which time I authored papers on:

The Basic Mechanisms of Action of Adrenal and Gonadal Steroids.

For any interested, click (HERE) for links to a few of my publications that are available online.

 


 

 

August 20 (afternoon), 2014

Working on skills concerning Birds in Flight at Bountiful Pond, Deedee and I encountered a small group of Terns that neither of us had ever seen before!

Sibley described them as: "Fresh Juvenile Forsters Terns".

 

 

These birds were vocalizing big-time!

 

 

Cool "Bonus Birds" for both of us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 20 (morning), 2014

It's ironic that, on a gray day at Big Cottonwood Park, I'd run into a Gray Flycatcher!

'Kenny' came to my rescue regarding the I.D. of this bird.

His Quote: "Looks like a Gray Flycatcher with the long bicolored bill, white eye ring, overall pale non-contrasting plumage and obvious white edges on the tail."

 

 

again... Thanks to Kenny for the I.D.

 

 

 

Other birds located at Big Cottonwood between episodes of rain were:

migrating Western Tanagers...

 

 

again...

 

 

A lovely Western Scrub Jay in a 'picture perfect' high key setting...

 

 

again...

 

 

 

 

August 19, 2014

I've been fascinated by the color variations seen in 1st Fall/Winter/Spring Males, the result of sexual dimorphism!

The Black-headed Grosbeak comes to mind, since, last year at this time I encountered my first example of such a bird.

A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF

First Winter Male Black-Headed Grosbeak, Sept. 2013

 

 

Another view,

 

 

 

A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF

Adult Male Black-Headed Grosbeak

 

 

Adult Female Black-Headed Grosbeak

 

 

Sexual Dimorphism: The time of life when young male birds, looking like females, begin to 'morph' into Adult males.

During this 'morphing' period, the males possess both male and female physical characteristics.

 

Below is one of my best examples from this year... a likely early male 'morphing'...

 

 

even at a time when it still exhibits the telltale juvenile Gape Flange located at the base of the beak!

The sex of this bird is unknown. However, it was a truly gorgeous bird!

 

 

 

Examples of Sexual Dimorphism in DUCKS can be seen (HERE).

 

 

 

 

August 15, 2014

I was fortunate to locate a number of Green-Tailed Towhees, ranging in age from fledglings to adulthood, in Big Cottonwood Canyon

I've sequenced several of these birds, showing their transition to adulthood.

Green-Tailed Towhees are another favorite bird for me!

 

This fledgling is the youngest of the set!

 

 

A second bird, a bit further toward maturation. Both were located foraging in deep shade.

 

Here's a more mature bird, curious about what I'm doing...

 

The rust coloration on its head is just emerging.

 

 

Now we see a young adult...

 

 

with its coloration more typical of adults.

 

 

Coloration on this bird is well along its way also.

 

 

Same bird as above.

 

 

This Green-Tailed Towhee appears to be posing for the camera!

 

 

 

Finalizing my short series, this bird is my favorite image.

 

 

 

August 13, 2014

On a recent jaunt to Antelope Island, I captured some (to me) interesting images of Gulls feasting on Brine Flies, a main staple for most species of birds that gather along the shoreline.

 

Franklin's Gulls line up along the Causeway shoreline to casually eat brine flies as they fly about...

 

 

But this California gull had another, more productive way to satisfy its appetite!

 

 

Brine flies, floating on the water!

 

 

The gull approached the task with mouth open as seen here!

 

 

The gull made a "V" shaped void behind itself in the process.

 

 

An ultra-closeup of the action!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 11, 2014

I discovered a novel bird, out of its environment at Big Cottonwood Park!... A Loggerhead Shrike!

 

 

the Shrike didn't stay on its perch for very long...

 

 

New Warblers are showing up in the park!

Below, a diminuitive Wilson's Warbler

 

 

Yellow Warblers are back also!

 

 

Someone posting their Big Cottonwood sightings on E-Bird recently listed a "Steller's Jay".

With all due respect, I believe their call was a mistake, since the only Jay showing up in the park is a Western Scrub Jay, seen here:

Steller's Jays are typically high on the mountain.

 

 

Black-capped Chickadees are, as always, a year round bird at Big Cottonwood.

 

 

As are Lesser Goldfinches...

 

 

Lesser Goldfinch...

 

 

And another, bright one.

 

 

Lots of Hummingbirds at present... here is a male Black-chinned.

 

Female...

 

 

Most often people photograph these birds at a feeder.

I prefer to capture them feeding in the wild, as done here...

 

 

As reported earlier, Western Tanagers are now migrating through Big Cottonwood Park, as seen here.

Male Western Tanager

 

 

again...

 

 

And the male showing its back coloring.

 

 

A likely Juvenile male Western Tanager.

 

 

 

A juvenile Bullock's Oriole at Big Cottonwood Park...

 

 

Again...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 6, 2014

Over the summer, I concentrated on photographing Terns in flight, beginning with this Forster's Tern, posted earlier.

Recently, I photographed a Caspian's Tern at Bountiful Pond, and captured a 2nd example of both species' eye protection when crashing into the water after fish!

Forster's Tern, Millrace Pond

 

 

The Forster's Tern, emerging from its dive, demonstrating the translucent nictitating membrane over the eye!

 

 

Caspian Tern, Bountiful Pond

 

Diving for fish...

 

 

Emerging, showing the same translucent nictitating membrane over its eye!

 

 

Completing the series by flying away with a tiny fish.

 

 

 

 

 

August 5, 2014

Big Cottonwood Park... The Southward Migration has Manifested itself in the form of a Male Western Tanager!

 

Of all the times to decide to re-visit 15 year old digital photo technology

(Nikon D100 6mp camera body; Nikon 1st generation 80-400 tele lens, just for the heckova it!)

The park was loaded with birds, including this male Western Tanager, taken with ancient technology!

 

Coming back into the park with a "modern" camera, the sky had been transformed into a dark gray light diffuser.

Deep in the underbrush, a colony of House finches were concentrated for some reason!

 

 

I was impressed with their 'painterly' look in my viewfinder as I collected these images!

 

 

For me, House Finches are mostly overlooked; but not this day!

 

 

 

August 2, 2014

What a way to begin the month of August?!

I'm posting, not one, but 2 Leucistic Eared Grebes I photographed at the 2nd bridge on the Antelope Island Causeway!

1st: (This is the bird demonstrating the most white color.)

 

 

It preferred to swim alone, which made it stand out big time!

 

 

The second leucistic Eared Grebe was not so white...

 

 

 

For a very brief moment both Leucistic Grebes were in the same frame, when the whitest of the 2 dived at the critical moment!

 

Before I close, I've attached another "Spirit Bird" I photographed this year... a Leucistic American Robin on March 19, at Big Cottonwood Park!

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 31, 2014

This will be my final post for the rare, but drab Little Blue heron, seen here with a Lesser Yellowlegs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 27, 2014

The LITTLE BLUE HERON again.

This time the lighting was a bit tricky.

The bird was standing on the island briefly, and disappeared onto the other side of the island.

 

close up (crop)

 

The bird re-appeared after awhile, but the light got a bit tricky!

I show this image to illustrate why my images are mostly shades of white and gray!

 

 

 

Oh, well... I'm more than happy to have these!

 

 

My images are all very similar, so I chose to post action shots as below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fun bird, images that I'm extremely happy to have (thanks to Norm Jenson's sighting earlier!)

 

 

 

July 24, 2014

As our summer in Salt Lake continues to heat up, there is an ideal respite for lovers of wildlife...

That is, in the mountains to the East of the Salt Lake valley!

 

Silver Lake, Brighton UT.

 

 

Bull Moose in the lake...

 

 

Foraging Moose, closeup.

 

 

 

Birds that we see during Spring migration go into the mountains for the summer to nest.

Male Western Tanager

 

 

Female Western Tanager

 

 

 

A somewhat amusing back-view of a female Western Tanager, high above me...

 

 

Yellow-rumped Warbler

 

 

Another Yellow-rumped...

 

 

A 3rd Yellow Rump with prey...

 

 

Although we see Yellow Warblers in the valley during summer, they are well represented in our mountains at this time of year.

 

 

 

A dead pine tree hosted a sizeable number of fledgling Tree Swallows on the edge of Silver Lake.

They would sit chirping away, then as adults flew by with food, they would flap their wings and open their mouths for food.

 

 

These birds were, unfortunately, sidelit, degrading the image quality, with me having no alternative than to stand on the boardwalk provided, not being allowed to wander to a better lighting position!

 

 

 

They were also a considerable distance away, stretching the quality my modest lens provides!

 

 

But the result was worth the trade-off in image quality...

As the parents flew back and forth feeding the birds in mid-flight.

 

 

 

 

 

Success!

 

 

Another successful food 'drop-off' for this fledgling moments later!

 

 

The parent (left) landed this time, thrusting its food-laden beak deep into the fledgling's mouth!

 

 

 

 

 

A species of Sparrow, (FOX SPARROW) that we see in the valley during migration, breeds and spends the summer at this elevation.

(Brighton, UT., 8,500 feet above sea level)

 

 

 

A handsome Fox Sparrow settled onto a limb in front of me near Silver Lake at Brighton...

 

 

He obviously could see me, but was comfortable with me being there.

 

 

"Oops! Gotta itch!"... (lifting its left leg)

 

 

I was amazed at the odd extension of the bird's left wing while scratching!

 

 

Done!

The bird tarried for awhile...What a remarkable background and lighting setting!

 

 

Another species of Sparrow that's common to this elevation, the Lincoln's Sparrow!

 

 

Another view...

 

 

More Lincoln's Sparrows below...

 

 

 

 

 

 

A final image of a Lincoln's Sparrow, leaping into flight, on the edge of Silver Lake.

 

 

 

The last Sparrow I'll be presenting from Brighton is the ubiquitous

White-Crowned Sparrow.

 

 

These are adult, breeding plumage birds

 

 

Contrasted to the juvenile (fledgling) White-Crowned...

 

 

 

 

 

 

White-Crowned Sparrow Juvenile

 

 

 

To me, this is a remarkable juvenile White-Crowned Sparrow, to end my series of high altitude Sparrows from Big Cottonwood Canyon!

 

 

A favorite bird for me is the Stellar Steller's Jay!

At times they are seen travelling in small groups around Silver Lake.

 

 

This, to me, looks like a juvenile.

 

Again, a possible juvenile Steller's Jay

 

 

The gape flange (located at the base of the beak) shows clearly, the pink coloration of a juvenile Steller's jay

 

 

You can see it more clearly with this enlarged image.

 

 

 

This particular day, I had several Steller's browsing along the lake's edge.

 

 

They seemed to be attracted to this wasps nest!

 

 

 

This particular bird captured a wasp for a meal!

 

A youngster...

 

 

Lovely birds at any angle!

 

To me, this bird looks 3 dimensional with its surroundings adding depth.

 

 

I had my own Circus, watching these birds this particular day!

 

 

A jump put this bird into motion for flight.

 

 

Doing a survey of birds around Silver Lake/Brighton should have a few examples of Mountain Chickadees!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This should about do it for Mountain Chickadees!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 15, 2014

I've been finding myself in the midst of fledging Black-headed Grosbeaks these days!

Here I'm posting a few, beginning with the youngest fledgling that I saw:

 

 

This little critter tolerated my presence exceeding well, providing 'poses' from every direction!

 

 

It was found foraging in open shade, on a sunny day.

 

 

As young as this fledgling appears to be, it was capable of flight!

 

 

 

When the bird was motionless, it blended exceeding well with its surroundings.

 

 

Contrast the markings on this fledgling with the bird below this one.

 

 

This Grosbeak was obviously further along in its fledging process.

 

 

It's coloration has moved further towards adulthood.

 

 

At another location, I encountered this Black-headed youngster.

 

 

Another pose... (I'm thinking it's a female).

 

 

At the same moment, another bird appeared in the same tree.

 

 

 

It provided images from different angles...

 

 

From the back, it appears to be a male.

 

 

 

For Non-birder viewers of my website, below are images of adult Black-headed Grosbeaks beginning with an adult male.

 

 

The adult female...

 

 

 

And, finally, last September I discovered this oddly marked male,

It is a "First Winter male", featuring characteristick of both sexes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 11, 2014

Regarding trends in photography these days, we're advised to:

"Do something different to create photos that are more than 'good enough'".

The entire world is taking pictures (lots of visual redundancy every where in photo-land).

This post is my experiment in an attempt to 'refresh' bird images.

 

Having re-discovered my little Forster's Tern this past week, at Mill Race Park, I began with him as my subject, since earlier, he showed lots of flexibility.

Here he is, back again after a lengthy hiatus,

pondering at the pond...

 

BIRDS-IN-FLIGHT...

Should I keep the image simple... a stark image hanging against a blank sky?

 

The day was a mix of sun and clouds... Is isolation of white-on-white a refreshing approach?

 

White-on-white again, adding the bird's unusually awkward position...

dangling feet!

Hit or miss?

 

 

I've mastered clean isolation of birds in flight against a blurred background.. is this a good approach, assuring novelty?

 

Simply by "panning" the camera at the same speed as the bird (using a slower shutter speed), I attained a feeling of motion, with the bird in sharp focus, and water blurred/streaked horizontally.

Did this do the trick... A winner?

 

Let's modify the result by increasing shutter speed and attaining just a pinch of background sharpness!

Any better?

 

Let's spice up the blurred background aerial approach with bird's antics while in flight! Here are 3 images from which to choose...

 

 

 

 

 

Whoops!!! Fun image... but 'no cigar'!

 

 

Here are 3 images showing the Forster's Tern vigorously shedding water, via rapid in-flight shaking.

 

 

The bird's head is showing motion, even though the shutter speed is 1/1600 second!

 

 

More aerial body contortion, the result from the Tern's attempt to dry off!

Any winners YET??!

(Remember, I'm striving for innovative, distinctive BIF photos here!)

 

 

For my own satisfaction, I've settled on

REFLECTIONS!

I was inspired by the series of images below!

 

 

I like it...

 

 

 

 

 

Peaceful image...

 

 

Head-on...

 

 

A favorite...

 

 

To finalize my series, I submit this... fish-in-mouth approach!

(Just having fun... hope you enjoyed it as I did while photographing)

Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 8, 2014

Photographers,

Have you ever taken the time to determine whether your camera is focusing accurately?

It's all too common a problem that camera/lens is not calibrated correctly in manufacture, and will focus in front or behind your subject, creating a blurry image that you assume is your mistake!

 

Accurate camera focus has its DOF (depth of focus) precisely on the subject, with sharp focus being 1/3 in front of the point of focus; and 2/3 the distance behind the point of focus.

It is most noticeable with telephoto lenses, set at wide aperture (i.e., f5.6).

When a camera system is properly calibrated, the result should look like my example below.

I focused critically on the 2nd dove.

Looking at the focus on the angled fence, the forward sharp focus diminishes 1/3 the distance in front of the bird, with sharp focus going back of the dove, 'feathering out' 2/3 the distance behind.

Something to consider...

 

 

Another example of depth of focus with a California quail. (Slight shift to forward focus is seen with this lens, set at f8.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: I now have a presence on Flickr... See it (HERE).