Fisher Towers, La Sal Mountains near Moab, UT.
Personal Web Site
Updated: July 23, 2014
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?
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.
July 23, 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 in the Spring go into the mountains for the summer to nest.
Male Western Tanager
Female Western Tanager
Although we see Yellow Warblers in the valley, 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.
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 lovely Fox Sparrow chanced to settle onto a limb in front of me...
He obviously could see me, but was comfortable enough to...
"Oops! Gotta itch!"... (lifting its left leg)
I was amazed at the odd extension of the bird's left wing while scratching!
The bird tarried for awhile...What a remarkable background and lighting setting!
July 18, 2014
Earlier, I posted a series of this Downy Woodpecker.
I'm posting this little guy once more... only one image...for your enjoyment!
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...
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...
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!
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
I was inspired by the series of images below!
I like it...
To finalize my series, I submit this... fish-in-mouth approach!
(Just having fun... hope you enjoyed it as I did while photographing)
July 8, 2014
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.)
July 3, 2014
I decided to post Common Merganser images from July of 2010, at Mill Race Park pond in Taylorsville,UT.
I emphasize, to discover a Common Merganser in the middle of the Salt Lake Valley in late July is, indeed, uncommon!
Something was amiss!
Common Merganser at Mill Race Park pond in late July 2010, hanging around for over a week.
Unusual sighting, considering the time of year!
Looks a bit bedraggled...
For comparison, here is a healthy male Common Merganser from February at Willow Pond, less than a mile away.
For the benefit of Non-Birders who visit my website, here is a pair of Common Mergansers, at Willow pond, commonly seen in February!
(The series of images below are being published for the first time.)
My first encounter with this bird at Mill Race pond in July of 2010 provided fun images, like this reflection.
Looking at the bird's right side, damage to its left wing is not apparent.
The wing damage from an earlier time rendered the bird incapable of flight.
I'm guessing it walked over the dike from the Jordan river, into Millrace pond, just a few yards away from the river.
These moments of photographing this bird were magical, with great lighting. Here he played with a stick.
The stick being held in the bird's bill shows up best in the reflection.
The bird decided to take a late afternoon swim amongst wonderful reflections.
Who could ask for anything more?
However, the telltale positioning of the bird's left wing was the 1st sign of an issue.
The bird acted normally out in the direct sun.
This is a typical position for Mergansers scouting for fish.
The bird rose up to stretch, revealing big-time issues with its left wing!
The bird otherwise behaved quite normally, successfully catching fish!
After some extensive bathing, the bird changed tactics.
He began to make his way to the shoreline.
Compare the current Merganser to these 2 healthy males from February at Willow pond.
I have photographed Common Mergansers at Mill Race Pond in February, not late July!
Lots of water spray during this session, as the bird...
exits for his next 'show'!
His next series are completed using this rock!
Near the top...
At the pinnacle...
Backview shows the extensive left wing damage.
Still flailing the air, with a phantom left wing.
BUT WAIT... THERE'S MORE!
Enter 3 Neotropic Cormorants, and a...
Double-crested Cormorant (with an attitude!).
for a short video showing the Double-Crested Cormorant stealing fish from the Merganser, later overpowering the bird, with 3 Neotropic Cormorants coming to the rescue!
June 30, 2014
As we exit the month of June, I had a unique experience for the 2nd time regarding odd birds at odd times, sharing the same odd location!
Last year, during the 3rd week of June along the Murray/Jordan River corridor, I discovered an out of place (season-wise) duck!
I first saw the Common Goldeneye swimming in the shadows...
Then it located itself on a chunk of discarded concrete, streamside!
It settled in for a long siesta... I checked again an hour or two later!
Fast-forward to yesterday, along the same river location...!
I noticed a familiar but out-of-place (season-wise) profile of a swimming duck!
The bird exited the water by climbing onto the same chunk of concrete the Common Goldeneye occupied exactly a year earlier!
Correct me if I'm wrong; but I believe this odd bird (season-wise) is a female Red-breasted Merganser, duplicating my experience from a year earlier!
What are the odds for 2 out-of-season ducks showing up at the exact same odd location at the exact same time, a year apart?!
All this reminds me of a 3rd 'odd duck' I discovered near the same location (Mill Race Pond) in July, 2010... a stray Common Merganser!!
More about this bird later!!
June 27, 2014
The Forster's Tern that repeatedly turned my days at Mill Race Pond into pleasant ones failed to re-turn this week!
He was distinguished by having a shortened right "fork" (tailfeather) as seen below.
Another view of the abbreviated right tailfeather.
2 other Forster's Terns (apparently paired) showed up, but never foraged there. Rather, they hung out, and harassed the single bird!
Single Forster's... resting
One of the pair flew in from behind and surprised my Forster's tern by grabbing him at the back of the head!
Forcing the bird into the water...
And holding its head underwater!
Causing my Forster's Tern to become airborne; and, after a few passes over the pond...
Plunged into the water to take a small fish (with my focus being slightly behind the bird as he emerged).
(Notice the size of the fish.)
In the briefest of moments, the sequence continued...
providing me with excellent opportunities to hone my skills...
Photographing under overcast skies (a favorite of mine)!!
For the very last time!
He was gone for good!
I'll miss him!
June 24, 2014
A scenario in the life of Bullock's Orioles currently fledging...
A photographic series of a 'single mom' (no adult male to be seen!), taking care of a lone fledgling, shown here...
It's early morning and the fledgling emerges from the well concealed hanging nest...
The lone youngster struggles to position itself.
It begins to look for a parent with food...
The adult female appears with a morsel of food.
Oh happy day!!!
Mom gets positioned to feed her youngster
Although the action is obscured by foliage, the parent is thrusting food into the baby's gullet.
The action is seen more clearly here...
Afterward, the female begins to seek out more insects close by.
A lovely bird in her own right!
Meanwhile, the youngster is actively waiting outside the nest for more food.
The youngster begins to vocalize,
And being a typical Bullock's Oriole fledgling, it begins to wander a bit.
Tenaciously hanging on, it stretches downward to see what "mom's" doing below.
Moments later 'mom' appears with more food... and the process repeats itself again... and again... and again!
June 23, 2014
An up-close series of a cooperative Male Downy Woodpecker!
While studying Bullock's Orioles fledging along the Jordan river, I discovered this accommodating male Downy woodpecker.
A 180 degree twist of his head...
This guy appeared to be a "Tree Hugger"!
Making its own 'sawdust'.
June 21, 2014
This post is an "emerging" story about 1) a special Forster's Tern, 2) my quest for excellence using modest photographic equipment along with 3) my preference for lighting birds in flight!
(PLEASE NOTE: The following images only represent a miniscule portion of successful images this bird provided me.)
Today's post takes advantage of cloudy skies, and features a newfound friend, a Forster's Tern at Mill Race Pond in Taylorsville, distinguished by its shortened right tail feather!
Notice the detail and subtle shading of its coloration normally lost when photographed in direct sunlight!
What you don't see is the modest camera equipment I'm using to capture this series of images!
I'm alluding to a "consumer level" Nikon D5200 camera body, affixed with a used Nikon F4 AFS 300mm lens + 1.4 teleconverter.
This camera body has recently been replaced with a D5300 iteration, creating a fire sale price (body only) of less than $600 for the D5200.
NOTE: My camera has the exact same sensor and pixel count as the highly esteemed Nikon D7100, for less than 1/2 the price!!!
It also has an upgraded autofocus system on board!
Notice the shortened tail that assures me each day that I've photographed the same little aerial acrobat... Such fun!!!
An overcast day with background foliage nearby... a recipe for focus disaster (Often cameras mistakenly focus on the background.)
The bird was scanning the water below for tiny "Mosquito-fish" (Gambusia affinis). The next 3 images were shot rapid fire.
I missed the plunge that rewarded the Tern with a fish!
It only takes a short moment for the fish to be devoured...
And my little friend begins to scan again!
Providing me with a satisfying series of Forster's Tern behavior!
June 19, 2014
For the past 5 years, at this time of month, I've enjoyed photographing Bullock's Orioles nesting, particularly when the fledglings begin to wander away from their nests!
The youngsters climb out of their hanging nests and wander the tree!
When this happens, both adult parents chase after them with morsels of food, continuing until the young can successfully fly on their own.
Even then, the adult females continue to feed these young.
First year male Bullock's Oriole vocalizing...
First year male Bullock's Oriole
One fledgling has left the nest and was a considerable distance away from it!
This little guy was pretty active!
At the same time, the male Bullock's Oriole was attending to the young that stayed in the hanging nest!
One can be seen here.
June 16, 2014
Walking southward along the Murray/Jordan River Parkway,
yielded a lovely Western Kingbird...
a 2nd Western Kingbird...
A male Bullock's Oriole feeding its young...
and preparing to fly out for more insects for its brood.
Last but not least, a handsome male California quail.
June 12, 2014
Mill Race Pond in Taylorsville, UT, adjacent to the Murray/Jordan River Parkway did NOT disappoint yesterday!
Each of the 5 floating devices on the tiny pond was occupied by a fish-eating bird!
There were, 3 Forster's Terns along with 2 Neotropic cormorants!
I took advantage of the Forster's Terns to hone my skills photographing birds in flight!
The Terns were capturing tiny fish, eating them while in midflight!
Here, one just plunged into the water.
Look closely in the 2 following images and you'll see the tiny fish.
fish in mouth...
Lovely birds, with their forked tails.. Their somewhat erratic flight patterns make it tough to get them in focus.
Coming in for a landing...
June 10, 2014
More images from the Murray/Jordan River Parkway...
(Some new, and some repetition...)
Spotted Sandpiper, revisited...
Male Northern Red-shafted Flicker, drinking from a tiny rivulet on a hot day...
California Quail pair...
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (next 3 images)
Yellow Warbler, gathering food for its hidden young.
My 3rd encounter with the Swainson's Hawk...
A 'classic' stance... Neotropic Cormorant (Mill Race Pond), Nikon
Using the Canon SX50 camera...
Below is a series of a male Bullock's Oriole fetching food for its young...
This bird was in deep shade.
Killdeer images, where it feigned injury to draw me away from an unseen nest.
June 8, 2014.... Just for Fun...
A "Painterly" (filtered) Version From my "Foxes at Play" Series...
June 7, 2014
Other Birds seen along the Murray/Jordan River Parkway...
Neotropic Cormorants still favor the Mill Race Pond in Taylorsville.
Close-up of "NECO".
Double-Crested Cormorant in tree above the river...
Another "alien", Great-Tailed Grackles are becoming more prevalent...
A Swainson's Hawk patrols the sky near 54th South, Jordan River...
Brown-headed Cowbirds frequent the riverside...(Male)
Juvenile European Starling... (Thanks, Ray!)
Bullock's Orioles (male) are fairly common along the river now...
June 5, 2014
A Day in the Life of a Spotted Sandpiper, along the Jordan River....
Began with a bath, during which the Sandpiper was vocalizing...
A graceful tippy-toe exit from the bath...
speeding up the exit...
The Sandpiper encountered a 2nd Sandpiper!
Both birds began some sort of staging behavior!
Things got heated up between them!
One became airborne!
They began a circular staging pattern... (notice all the flying insects!)
This behavior continued for some time!
Until, at this point the 2nd bird flew away...
Leaving the original Spotted Sandpiper alone, still agitated!
May 28, 2014
Similarities and Differences Between Crestwood and Big Cottonwood Park
Crestwood Park is a few miles south of Big Cottonwood Park;
they both are the result of named-alike streams beginning eastward, in the 'Wasatch Front' range of mountains.
Big Cottonwood Park is the home of Big Cottonwood Creek (since the adjacent side-park, 'Creekside' is included as Big Cottonwood park).
Crestwood Park is the home of Little Cottonwood Creek.
At this time of year, Crestwood Park hosts a large number of Black-headed Grosbeaks
Black-headed Grosbeak male
Another male, foraging...
A female Black-headed Grosbeak, collecting nesting material at Crestwood park
This year's Red-shafted male Northern Flicker at Crestwood...
but look closely and you'll see this male is an Intergrade Red-shafted/Yellow shafted Northern Flicker, also seen often at Big Cottonwood Park!
A shift of the bird's head reveals more distinctly, a red crescent on the back of it's neck... the mark of an intergrade!
Below, see 3 'flavors' of Northern Flickers from Big Cottonwood park.
This year's Olive-sided Flycatcher, found in both parks
Same bird, different view...
An American Kestrel at Crestwood park, taking flight...
Both areas have a significant number of Red Foxes, like this bedraggled adult female at Crestwood yesterday.
(Note: at the extreme bottom of this page, scroll down to see healthy Red foxes playing, at Big Cottonwood Park!)
Below: Female mother fox at Crestwood.
An expanded view reveals a total of 3 foxes, with 2 kits appearing.
At Crestwood, females with Kits typically look like this one, scruffy and skinny.
This mother had no sense of humor when a kit wandered by, baring her teeth at him!
My guess is, food supplies were consistently meager, causing the mothers to work harder in their attempts to feed their young.
As seen with this current offspring, Crestwood young are in good shape!
May 23, 2014
Combined visits to Crestwood Park, and Big Cottonwood Park, with similar results!
Crestwood Park: and a Red-tailed Hawk...
Along with my FOY Western Tanager...
A similar 'line-up' of birds were to be discovered at Big Cottonwood Park
Cooper's Hawk, Big Cottonwood Park...
Western Tanager, Big Cottonwood Park...
May 21, 2014
New arrivals (birds) at Big Cottonwood Park...
Another Black-chinned Hummingbird...
Male Black-headed Grosbeak, with his lovely song...
Another male Black-headed Grosbeak...
An invasive species of Dove, a pair of "Eurasian Collared Doves"!
A Yellow Warbler (tiny bird!) with its distinctive song...
Even with their small size, these birds stand out against green foliage!
Lovely birds, Yellow Warblers...
I often see foxes; but they are anti-climatic after photographing foxes at play.