Kennecott Nature Center Panorama,
Murray/Jordan River Parkway, UT.
Personal Web Site
Updated: December 18, 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.
December 18, 2014
Possible 2nd Harlan's Redtail Hawk in Holladay, UT.
On December 2, I was driving on Arbor Lane east of Highland Drive, when I saw my old friend, the Big Cottonwood Harlan's Hawk leisurely winging southeast, (over the vast field that used to be Cottonwood Mall), toward me!
I stopped my car, grabbed my camera, focused on the airborne bird, when in my camera's viewfinder, I saw a black hawk sitting in a Big Cottonwood tree! My old friend was about to land in the same tree, but it didn't happen! The earlier hawk stood his ground and my Harlan's did a 180 degree turn, to go back toward Big Cottonwood park (about 7 blocks away)!
I turned my attention onto the new black hawk while it sat in the tree.
The bird immediately flew, circling once and headed east further into Holladay!
I had told Bryant Olsen my experience, and sometime later I posted a couple of images from that day.
Bryant commented, it was a possible dark morph Harlan's Hawk, and mentioned how beautiful the bird was.
Since that time, I've been watching for this new hawk and have encountered it on 3 separate occasions, each time having the hawk exit post-haste!
I'm posting a few images on my site for the first time.
Again, it was suggested that the new bird is a
"Possible Dark-Morph Harlan's Redtail Hawk".
Contrast the new hawk above, with the Harlan's Hawk from Big Cottonwood Park below!
December 17, 2014
Speaking of Cedar Waxwings at Big Cottonwood Park, I located a huge flock of them today, far away from the ongoing tree-cutting area.
Cedar Waxwings have a passion for sharing food back and forth, especially in the Spring during courting.
However, I captured images today where they were passing Russian Olives in what appeared to be a game!The process began with this invitation...
The olive was transferred to the left bird.
Is it already time to swap back?
Not quite time yet!
Now the olive is transferred to the bird on the right.
It seems like the bird on the left is reluctant to let go!
Finally, the transfer was complete!
But not for long, since this back exchange happened too fast for me to capture it!
The bird on the left decided to return the olive.
Again, they exchanged the olive...
The bird on the left was about to terminate the game...
By Eating the olive... Game Over!!!
Evening Grosbeaks still were devouring the olives also.
Here is a male.
The male had a unique way to scratch its head, by lowering the left wing and extending the left foot from above the wing!
I've recorded this behavior before, with a Fox Sparrow at Brighton, doing the exact same thing! (See below). The bird has lowered its left wing dramatically to accomplish this.
December 14, 2014
Concerning my post on Dec. 11-14 (see below), about 'true colors' in bird photography, Mark Stackhouse, a renowned professional birder/guide responded with this email:
That's a very nice photo, in either version. But your dilemma is a false one. Neither version is a "true" or "pure" image. Even the one straight out of the camera is subjected to the internal program of the camera, and the biases built into that. Even the human eye and brain distorts the "reality" of color. That's one reason why color, especially subtleties of shades, is worse than say, shape and behavior, as field marks for bird i.d.
In the end, the choice comes down to what you're doing with the photo. If you're making a field guide, you'd want the "corrected" version showing the "normal" color. If you want a striking image for a Christmas card, probably the out-of-camera image would be better"
December 11, 2014
I was very pleased with the quality and ambiance of this Cedar Waxwing's image taken earlier at Big Cottonwood Park.
However, I find myself "On the Horns of a Dilemma"!
People tell me they have never seen a Cedar Waxwing with blue feathers!
It's true, the bird's coloration was altered due to intense blue/cyan reflecting into the shaded area from the sky; and it certainly doesn't 'match' traditional Cedar Waxwing coloration.
However, this is how it came out of my camera!!!
An easy fix... 'select' the bird in Photoshop and 'neutralize' the blue/cyan coloration (only on the bird, and not the surroundings!)
The first group is satisfied.
Now, I have a group who said I shouldn't have 'manipulated' the color... that I should have left it in it's original color state, (out-of-camera)!
I have ended up with a flawed image, either way!
But I did 'win' from this exercise...
I have a perfect example for the Idiom, "being on the horns of a dilemma"! (LOL)
In all seriousness, enjoy with me, the fine feather detail from this sidelit closeup of the bird, (also showing its "Wax-Wing")!
December 10, 2014
With the heavy equipment at the south-east end of Big Cottonwood Park making plenty of noise (especially with the pulverizing of the fresh-cut trees), birds are found (if at all) at the north-west area of the park.
This particular day, I trained my camera on a flock of Rock Doves (aka Pigeons!).
There is a resident flock associated with the horse corrals.
As I studied my results (mostly to illustrate that these birds also gorge on Russian olives!), I was impressed with the outcome, and I thought you'd enjoy seeing these beauties!
This image was most pleasing to me, with everyone in sharp focus!
December 6, 2014
Can Any Good Come From the presence of "Non-Native, Invasive Species?!
With "non-native", "invasive species" becoming a hot olive... er... potato in Big Cottonwood Park, I shift my focus onto the area called, "Kennecott Nature Center, Jordan River Parkway, Murray, UT."
My story has to do with the discovery of a "Non-Native, Invasive Species", this time benefitting the bird population at the Center's pond, (panorama image is in above banner).
I began photographing the pond and surrounding areas in 2009 when it looked like this.
Early in the year, 2012, I began to see a trend regarding birds in the area, with fish-eating birds increasing, such as this
1st Spring male Common Merganser.
This was taken on April 7, 2012 during migration, but there were year-round fish-eating birds there also.
Belted Kingfishers were almost always close by...
This one was after something in the pond...
A short distance away from the pond, along the river, other Kingfishers also resided.
Here are a pair of them...
As spring evolved, a Black-Crowned Night Heron arrived...
Spending considerable time in shallow water at the north end of the pond.
by June, a very active Forster's Tern was foraging at the pond also.
With some food morsel in-mouth that I could not identify.
Also in June, my first American White Pelican literally dropped in!
This bird's entry to the tiny shallow pond was only the beginning!
Another day there were 2 birds...
More came later...
With even more!!!
(A local resident told me he counted 22 Pelicans on the pond one day!)
Other 'white birds' (Snowy Egret) showed up also...
Their presence indicated small fish being present also.
A rare Green Heron also showed up!!!
It appeared the beginning of July.
I tried hard to determine what the birds were using as food...
And a "non-native" Neotropic Cormorant answered the Question!!!
These birds at the pond were feeding on a population explosion of "NON-NATIVE, INVASIVE, ASIAN WEATHER FISH", likely migrating out of the nearby Jordan River, where they are known to be.
These eel-like fish appear not to be an issue regarding the ecosystem.
Indeed, they were a welcome source of food for the birds seen here!
The Neotropic Cormorant 'played' with the fish by tossing it into the air as it slowly kills the critter by repeatedly crushing it with its beak.
Finally to swallow it!
But the most bizarre experience I had, was with 2 Belted Kingfishers in the process of Courting!
The Female, a slight distance away on an extremely low-light, rainy day, was listening to the call from its mate!
The Male Belted Kingfisher had fetched a Weatherfish from the pond to entice the female into courting behavior!
The male 'whacked' the prey by pounding it onto the wood branch.
The female turned her attention toward the male...
The male flew toward the waiting female, with the fish in-mouth.
Lighting conditions for photography were below marginal; but I continued as the male approached his landing spot.
The male (far side) passed the prize to the female, marking a successful courtship!
The male scurried away to watch the female from a distance.
The female turned away from the sitting male, with her prize.
The birds closed up the distance between them.
The male went back to the pond to fetch a 2nd identical fish while the female ate this one!
Successful Courting, Belted Kingfishers, via Sushi from Asia!
Now for the bad news regarding the status of the inhabitants at the Nature Center Pond... (Below: 2012)
During the Summer of 2013, somehow the water supply was disrupted and the pond dried up COMPLETELY, killing all of its inhabitants.
Throughout 2014, I visited there repeatedly; although water appeared again, no fish-eating birds were ever seen again. The only birds to be seen were, and are, Mallards looking for a handout.
November 30, 2014
Not much to report from Big Cottonwood Park these days.
A lone female Evening Grosbeak provided me the opportunity to hone my skills at manual-selective focus with my camera.
The result: the bird is in focus despite it being buried among twigs that normally would cause the camera to blur the bird.
A female Northern Red-shafted Flicker shows us how well this particular bird blends with her background.
An American Goldfinch (seemingly) proudly displays its
For my "non-birder" audience, here is the same species in July, in his "Breeding Plumage".
November 26, 2014
Yesterday, about mid-day, I received a phone call from "Phil" who was in Big Cottonwood Park (all the heavy tree-removal equipment had just been removed).
He wanted me to know the Harlan's Red-Tailed Hawk was back in the park!
Terrible lighting, with intermittent rain, I jumped in my car and met up with Phil.
The hawk had temporarily disappeared, to return after Phil left.
But before Phil (a proud owner of a Canon SX50 camera) left, I was able to point out a tree swarming with Spotted Towhees, and a short distance away were Evening Grosbeaks that we both photographed.
The hawk returned as the rain began to pick up.
Terrible lighting, but I wanted to document the bird...
He moved around a bit, in the rain...
Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk
A Sharpshinned hawk also appeared...
along with Evening Grosbeaks
Scores of Cedar Waxwings this rainy day!
Evidence that Black-billed Magpies also feast on Russian Olives!
Along with the omnipresent "Rock Pigeon"!
November 24, 2014
Visiting another path that, at this time of year, boasts some rare seasonal ducks, I find myself at 2300 South, along the Jordan River pathway!
My "good find" is seen below: 2 male Barrow's Goldeneyes, along with a female!
A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes, with the male stretching his neck, alarmed by my presence...
A male up close...
And an image of an adult Male Barrow's Goldeneye
alongside a "First-Spring Male" Barrow's Goldeneye (Evidence: white crescent just beginning to appear in the area between the eye and the bill!)
These birds, along with other 'diving ducks', become airborne by using their feet along with their wings! Awkward, but successful!
As with many days at this time of year, clouds substantially lower the available light, making 'birds-in-flight' difficult.
The camera requires a fast shutter speed, which, in turn, requires substantial light!
Notice, there are no shadows on this day!
This male Barrow's Goldeneye duck was on his way...!
November 22, 2014
At Crestwood Park I again searched for the Taiga Merlin, with no luck.
However, I encountered an interesting pair of birds, a Sharpshinned Hawk...
And an American Kestrel.
The Kestrel 'locked onto' prey...
successfully picking up a mouse! (Notice the tail hanging below the Kestrel's tail.)
Immediately the Sharpshinned Hawk appeared, with the Kestrel taking the defensive mode above!
The action was very brief,
With the American Kestrel successfully flying away with its dinner!
The mouse can be readily seen, being held in the Kestrel's claws.
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 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!)
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.
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...
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...
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...
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.
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 eating Russian Olives.
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).
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...
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!
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.