October, Fox In Motion, Big Cottonwood Park

 

Personal Web Site

Updated: October 30, 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.

 


 

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 jeapardy!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 9,2014

More images from today, of the Harlan's Hawk at

Big Cottonwood Park!

 

The bird provided some exceptional images today, by flying from one location to its traditional tree.

Other seasons when photographing this bird the Experts always asked if I had any images showing the undertail area.

Well, today I certainly do, along with the bird's use of its Alula feathers

to stall while landing (thanks Kris P.).

 

The bird was partially hidden in foliage here...

 

 

 

It decided to fly the short distance to its favored tree...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hawk begins to deploy its "Alula" feathers" in a landing stall...

 

 

The "Alula" on each wing edge is very distinctive in this image. They are the sunlit projections on both edges of the wings

 

 

 

I'm hoping this and the following images will provide more undertail plumage detail for I.D. purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 8, 2014

What are the odds?!

Deborah Drain is to be given credit for "flagging" a very special

Harlan's Red-Tail Hawk's presence in Big Cottonwood Park these past days!

She also deserves credit for discovering and announcing the presence of the (apparently) same bird each year for 3 years now!.

I've been photographing the same bird in fall/winter for 2 years including this year.

Enjoy a series of images from this morning, photographed in the Traditional Old Dead Tree on the east side of the park, adjacent to the melon field!

In future posts, I'll bring up last season's images of the bird for comparison.

From this morning

 

 

 

 

 

After preening...

 

 

Magpies and a Cooper's Hawk harassed the bird unrelentingly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hawk went to ground after being harassed by an unbelievable number of Magpies and a hawk!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With any luck, the apparent Harlan's Red-tail Hawk will continue to thrill many other people (as it did today) by its presence in Big Cottonwood Park!

 

 

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