Silver Lake, Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT.

 

Personal Web Site

Updated: November 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.

 


 

November 20, 2014

No, the image below is not out-of-focus...

The leaves are encased in ice at Big Cottonwood Pond's tiny open space!

 

 

I've been watching the progress of a wounded male Mallard over several weeks, hoping it would regain its ability to fly (wing issue!)

 

 

 

With the pond frozen as it is, foxes can capture unfortunate birds!

Image from yesterday... 2 foxes lounging in a spot of sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 12, 2014

Big Cottonwood Park is turned "off" regarding birds and wildlife at present, likely due to a continuation of tree eradication in the southeast corner.

Nevertheless, I've collected a few bird images in past days, mostly birds of prey.

I begin my post with a fox that habitually sleeps in the horse corral at the far northeast end of the area. This animal appears fairly consistently at that location, to sleep!

 

 

Spotted Towhees are seen from time to time...

 

 

Here is a Sharpshinned Hawk!

 

 

Another view...

 

 

 

Another time (same place), a Cooper's Hawk

It's eye color tells us it's a "juvenile".

 

 

a 2nd view...

 

 

Another day, another bird (adult, eye coloring)... a series of this one...

 

 

 

 

An "expert" might surface in my email to straighten me out as to whether these are Cooper's or Sharpshinned hawks

 

 

This one is obviously an American Kestrel, the smallest species of Falcon in North America

 

 

 

an American Kestrel in flight (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've moved on to other locations, including "Bountiful Pond" where there is a most accomodating Great Horned Owl, allowing extremely close 'looks'!

 

 

 

But my primary reason to visit Bountiful Pond is to capture an image of a 'rare' Red-necked Grebe, found there.

 

 

 

Not very impressive (Coloration) due to being a 1) juvenile; 2) non-breeding plumage.

However, it is on the Utah Rare Birds list!

Be sure to click HERE to see it in its glorious summertime "Breeding Plumage"! (Courtesy: Utah Birds.org/Paul Higgins).

 

 

 

Moving elsewhere in search of birds, I encountered a "Taiga" Merlin at Crestwood Park (heavily backlit, but acceptable results).

 

 

 

another view...(looking directly at me!)

 

 

 

From behind...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 8, 2014

I'm out photographing while exercising.

However, I've been asked to create a digital 'slide presentation' to acquaint people with the wide variety of birds I've photographed in Big Cottonwood Park.

 

For now...

Enjoy seeing my first "Slate-Colored Race" Junco from Crestwood Park. (cool bird!)

 

 

 

And I thought you might be somewhat amazed in seeing the detail on a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (tiny birds, approx. 4 inches long) filling the frame BIGGER THAN LIFE (depending on your screen...)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 6, 2014

Disturbing activities in Big Cottonwood Park are ongoing, with wholesale removal of Russian olive trees (an important bird food supply!).

 

This prompted me to dredge up images of bird species that rely on the fruit from these trees!

 

Below are such images, but the list of species affected is more extensive than what I'm showing here!

Please note: The images below were collected exclusively in Big Cottonwood Park over time.

 

Evening Grosbeaks are currently in the Park, foraging on the olives!

 

 

Here a male Evening Grosbeak plucks an olive...

 

 

and eats!

 

 

American Robins consume an enormous amount of this fruit!

 

 

Even over-wintering Yellow-rumped Warblers feast on the fruit as seen in the following short series!

 

 

This little guy performed some acrobatics in the process...

 

 

of eating!

 

 

Here we see a RARE BIRD, the "White-throated Sparrow", with his own

unusual method of collecting the fruit!

 

 

This Sparrow literally jumped up to grab the fruit as seen...

 

 

 

here!!!

 

 

 

Success!

 

 

A lovely, seldom seen "Bohemian Waxwing" was one of many in the Park two winters ago, expressly to gorge on Russian Olives!

 

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous birds!... I was surprised and pleased to photograph them!

 

 

 

 

 

A side-view shows the remarkable coloration of this awesome bird!

 

 

Surprisingly, Northern Flickers also participate in the olive harvest each year. This stunning male Red-Shafted Northern Flicker is no exception!

 

 

 

The much more common Cedar Waxwings are omnipresent in our area of the world, throughout all seasons. Like the Robins, they rely heavily on the olives...

 

 

 

 

 

Other birds feed on the olives, but the ones displayed here are adequate to get the point across!

 

 

 

Another image I've found in my archives from Big Cottonwood...

a juvenile White Crowned Sparrow,

 

 

 

eating a Russian olive.

 

 

 

Spotted Towhees feast on the fruit also, as seen here:

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and one final critter that relishes Russian Olives...

This American Red Squirrel eats them like a kid who loves popcorn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 2, 2014

On October 30, I photographed 2 Male Northern Flickers (one being an Intergrade) sparring with each other!

The significance of this:

Last year in October I experienced the same kind of behavior with 2 identical male birds (one being an intergrade also!)

 

Below is a shortened series depicting their behavior.

(The male on the left is an intergrade (Red-shafted X Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker).

 

 

Intergrade male is on the right, (look for the red crescent on the back of the bird's head).

 

 

Shady area called for slower shutter speed.

 

 

 

 

 

Intergrade is in shaded foreground...

 

 

Off we go again!

 

 

 

 

 

Bird in flight entered a patch of sunlight!

 

 

Typical male Northern Red-shafted Flicker in flight.

 

 

The birds separated... here is the intergrade again.

 

 

And again.

 

 

 

I went back again to the Park in late afternoon, luckily!

I discovered a "Taiga Merlin", (thanks Bryant) a rare bird occasionally seen as cold weather arrives! The Merlin was in the same dead tree as the Harlan's Hawk typically occupies (not this time however!).

 

 

 

I was able to capture the bird in flight, as it employed its "Alula Feathers", providing me with another example!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bird headed north.

 

 

 

Ironically, moments later I located an American Kestrel a short distance away! (Both birds' coloration is distorted by warm-tone afternoon sunlight!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 30, 2014

Big Cottonwood Park has been the only birding location for me these days...

 

This fox is getting a bit bold, walking on the trails, turning to look at me, then slowly sauntering away!

 

 

 

But, for me, the BIG News is the arrival of approximately 2 dozen

Evening Grosbeaks at Big Cottonwood Park!

 

 

 

 

 

Male...

 

 

Female.

 

 

 

Female...

 

 

 

Male eating Russian Olives.

 

 

Again...

 

 

Front view...

 

 

 

Backview (in shade)

 

 

 

A shady area with some direct sun filtering onto the bird.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 28, 2014

As the Season changes, life goes on with a new set of characters at Big Cottonwood Park...

 

A transient, cute, tiny bird, the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, is briefly visiting the park on its southward migration...

 

 

 

This image of the same bird provides the reason for its name, Ruby-Crowned...the head coloration most often is hidden.

 

 

 

A different view of the head.

 

 

Western Scrub Jays are becoming more prominent in the park, such as this handsome example.

 

 

 

Black-Capped Chickadees are year-round residents here.

 

 

 

They are quite the acrobats while searching for a morsel of food!

 

 

 

Sharp-shinned Hawks are back...

 

 

 

Agile hunters, flying through brush and low lying trees with aplomb!

 

 

 

The Squirrels that reside year-round are in jeopardy!

 

 

 

Little known to park visitors, is a substantial population of RATS, as seen here (juvenile) in a tree on the edge of the pond!

 

 

Rats are a major draw for the Harlan's Hawk, who favors them as food!

Look closely at the bird's foot and you'll see lunch, along with a tassle of grass picked up at the time of the kill!

 

 

 

I've avoided showing the act of eating the prey.

 

 

 

Black-Billed Magpies are no match for the hawk...

 

 

 

However, the hawk did leave some morsels behind as he exited...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 25, 2014

Yesterday at Big Cottonwood Park, I captured some fine images of the Harlan's hawk.

However, I also used my little Canon SX50 to capture some Fall colors in the park, since they were rapidly disappearing.

 

I decided to post my landscape images of the park.

Perhaps you'll enjoy my interpretation of the area!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 24, 2014

I've been fascinated by the workings of birds' "Alula Feathers" since Kristin Purdy brought them to my attention after seeing them on an American Kestrel I posted earlier.

 

Alula Feathers, projecting upward off the center of each wing, along with the bird's flared wings, tail, and yes, even dragging its feet,

provide a graceful 'stall' mid air for a perfect landing!

 

 

 

The Alula feathers are also visible with my Harlan's Hawk images, as seen below:

 

 

 

Now, I've begun a collection of examples, including Mourning doves, such as the left side dove here.

 

 

 

And here... This is a work in progress that I'll certainly enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 23, 2014

Yesterday opened with a gloriously clear sky, and the presence of the Harlan's Hawk for the umteenth time.

So I decided to document the bird with the now out-of-production Canon SX50 camera, demonstrating again the quality available with a modestly priced camera (still available for sale at less than $400).

Comparisons Below:

Harlan's Hawk

Nikon D5200/Nikon 300mm f4/+Nikon1.4TC =640mm

(My best Nikon system, approx. $2,000):

 

 

 

Canon SX50 (Less than $400)

Max Optical Magnification: (Canon: "12X")

 

 

 

Canon SX50 In-Camera Digital Magnification. (Canon: "24X")

(Required me to shoot vertically to include the entire bird!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 22, 2014

Yesterday afternoon, as the storm was weakening, I walked Big Cottonwood Park and almost immediately came upon the Harlan's Hawk amidst a sizeable number of American Crows, along with another sizeable number of Black-billed Magpies! (Only a few of which are present in this image.)

In the lower center of this image, an airborne Crow was harassing the Harlan's hawk...

 

 

 

Here is a magnified portion of the above image showing the Hawk-Crow interaction.

 

 

 

The Harlan's Hawk decided to leave the premises...

 

 

Leaving the American Crows and Magpies to create their own game!

 

 

 

One Crow decided to leave, going in the same direction as the Hawk...

 

 

 

When almost immediately, a Magpie prepared to harass the Crow!

 

 

With the distance between the 2 birds closing up quickly...

 

 

 

The Crow flipped over and began to fly upside down, with talons at the ready!!!

 

 

 

The Magpie retreated!

 

 

 

 

Turnabout is fair play,.... with the Crow in hot pursuit of the Magpie!

 

 

 

Some distance away, the Crow strafed the Magpie to teach it a lesson.

 

 

 

Other Crows took to the air, providing me with the opportunity for Birds-in-Flight photos... (difficult under cloudy conditions).

 

 

Nonetheless, I succeeded!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice this Crow's eye. I caught it at the exact time of a 'blink' with it's nictitating eye membrane. Looks like an image for Halloween!

 

 

 

The skies lightened up a bit, providing this image:

a flock of Mourning Doves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 18, 2014 (Saturday evening)

For those of you Big Cottonwood Park folk who have lamented the disappearance of the Harlan's Red-Tailed Hawk over the past days...

Good News!!!

The bird is back as of 5:30 P.M. this afternoon!

Below is a series of images showing the bird as it left the park for the evening, sure to be back again in the coming days!

 

Ramping up to leave for the evening...

 

 

 

For some reason, the bird thoroughly ruffled its feathers just before takeoff, looking somewhat like a Gorilla!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Starling had better move away fast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How often does a photographer have access to the same wild bird such as this one, for a total of 7 days, and still counting?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 16, 2014

At Big Cottonwood Park I photographed a rare bird, a male Northern Yellow-Shafted Flicker (not seen here).

This is the 3rd year (approx. the same time) that I've located such a bird.

However this year's image was poor in quality, so I'm still looking for a better one!

 

In the meantime, I've been practicing on Flickers in Flight, as seen below, a male Northern Red-Shafted Flicker, common here.

 

 

A few successful images of the common bird, I'm hoping to do the same with a Yellow-Shafted male this season!

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a female Northern Red-Shafted Flicker, carrying a Russian Olive in its beak!

 

 

The female lacks the red stripe sported by males in the malar (cheek) area of the head.

 

 

 

These 2 male Northern Flickers were sparring.

 

 

 

One is a Red X Yellow-shafted Intergrade.

Can you tell which is which?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 13, 2014

My walk began in Big Cottonwood Park at 9:00 A.M. this morning...

The shaded areas under the trees were covered with frost.

At 10 A.M. I was walking past the empty old dead tree where the Harlan's hawk has perched every day until now.

As I stood there in the early morning light, a huge dark object appeared... the Harlan's was back for today!

The beauty of the hawk in flight, illuminated with intense directional backlight was awesome!

My camera instinctively came into working position and I fired off a very few images before the masterful Hawk landed amidst the tangle of dead twigs near the top of the tree.

 

Note: This is the 2nd time I've posted the hawk coming to rest in the tree; but this time its low level incoming flight required it to CLIMB at the last minute!

In the earlier post, the bird arrived high in the sky, and DROPPED onto its perch, using its "alula feathers" to stall.

Its "alula" feathers did not factor in during this current landing!

 

 

Bird continuing to climb...

 

 

with feet moving into position to grasp a tree branch

 

 

Where to land?!

 

 

in this tangle of branches!

 

 

Done!

 

 

A woman out for her walk, standing to the side of me said, "That's enough to make me cry!" She remembered the hawk from last year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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