Big Cottonwood Park POND
as it looked in early
The year was 1997, and the Park was graced with a newly developed
pond, with additional water features on the north end where the water exited.
The water features (small decorative ponds and rivulets) were artistically crafted to blend into the Children's Play
The extensive Redwood decks that spanned over the west side of the pond provided the view seen above.
The pond was stocked with warm-water fishes (bluegills) that provided fun fishing.
During the first Autumns and Winters, the pond and its wetlands to the east provided temporary home for literally hundreds of migrating wild ducks and geese.
I was drawn to the Park in the Autumn Season to witness large flocks of wild Mallards
in flight... an amazing spectacle!
BUT, ALAS, FOR SOME REASON THE PARK POND WAS ALLOWED TO CHANGE ALMOST OVERNIGHT TO THIS!
ON THE BRIGHT SIDE...
The Park serves as a "Bird Magnet", where even exotic species are occasionally seen!
This page represents an ongoing, chronologically organized list/images
of mostly birds that I am photo-documenting in the Park, including its extension park (Creekside Park) to the south, across Murray-Holladay Road.
The Park is on the "Radar" of Utah Birders, and has gained a well-respected reputation among them!
This series has been primarily created for the "non-birders" who frequent the park, to assist them in identifying many of the birds found there.
A Few Highlight BIRDS from Big Cottonwood Park...
Male Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker
Juvenile Virginia Rail ...
Male Black-headed Grosbeak
Western Screech Owl
male Wood Duck
Enjoy the following images and explanations from the park, beginning on
April 8, 2012
with the newest posts at the end of this page!
April 8, 2012
Big Cottonwood Park.
A Mother Mallard has graced the pond with
Foxes are known to inhabit this park.
My first sighting was back in 1998.
Here is a more recent photo... the east side (corral) location:
An all-white "Mallard" discovered at the pond there...
Provides a lesson
Our cameras fail to simultaneously capture detail in extreme whites
and dark areas (in direct sun).
The all-white Mallard, with its female Mallard mate are difficult subjects for even the best cameras in bright sunlight.
The white duck loses detail; and the female is too dark!
By 'rolling over' the image with your mouse, notice the detail improvement
when the image has been edited with Adobe Photoshop!
The best alternative is to find:
A naturally occurring shaded area with its 'flat light'.
This provides good detail in both birds at the same time, as seen below.
People ask me what kind of bird this is...
There is only one on the entire pond.
It is an "American Coot".
A closeup-front view shows its unique head
A few other birds from this day at Big Cottonwood Park include,
A handsome male American Kestrel
Redwing Blackbird males are a prominent feature at Big Cottonwood Park pond, especially in the Springtime.
These birds have a melodic song that announces Spring.
The female Redwing blackbird is quite different in appearance..
Here we see a direct comparison between male and female
Here the male Redwing blackbird really 'struts his stuff'!
This "puffing up" action coincides with its call.
Not an easy subject to capture with camera!
Yellow-rumped Warblers make their presence known throughout the seasons.
I add this image to demonstrate where they got their name,
Black-Capped Chickadees blend so well against the tree bark.
The Chickadees enjoy eating emergent foliage on the trees.
The Red-tailed Hawk enjoys eating birds!
Red-tailed Hawk in Flight
A Downy Woodpecker is a distinct challenge to photograph!
This species exist there year 'round.
April 15, 2012
Big Cottonwood Park
A few images of Ruby-crowned Kinglets!
This little bird was too close for me to capture its entire body!
Very friendly! Notice the red point on its head... giving it its name.
Shallow Depth of Field (open aperture) separates this bird from its surroundings
April 16, 2012
Cottonwood Park Pond
White Mallard and Mate in Flight!
Such a beautiful Spring Day at Cottonwood Park Pond.
White Mallard and mate circling the pond for exercise.
The birds lifted off the pond as I exited my car, and provided me with numerous photos
as they circled 3 times before landing again.
This duck fascinates me...
I believe it is one of a select few white Mallards that can fly.
I have only seen 2 of them in my lifetime!
April 24, 2012
I suceeded in photographing a SORA at Big Cottonwood Park!
These birds are exceedingly difficult to view, in my experience at the park.
A Cedar Waxwing from Sunday, 4-29
Big Cottonwood Park
Lesser Goldfinch pair
April 25... evening
Just shy of 8:00 P.M., I walked at Big Cottonwood Park
And, again, heard the Soras.
Camera always handy, I photographed this bird in the waning light of evening.
Other birders were present; and it was concluded that there were
at least 4 Soras around the periphery of the pond at that time!
Cottonwood Park, April 25...
Success again with the Sora today!
These birds are likely my greatest photo-challenge...
Difficult to locate... difficult to get a clear shot!
This is likely the best I'll ever get!
May 5, 2012
I'm still focusing (pun) on birds at
Big Cottonwood Park, Murray-Holladay area.
Those of you who frequent the park, watch
for this colorful bird... Western Tanager Male!
The park is also hosting a few of these migrant birds,
Black Headed Grosbeaks!
A 3rd colorful bird to look for is:
Another migrant that is showing up (likely due to the proximity
of the horse corrals), is the Brown-Headed Cowbird!
Brown-Headed Cowbird pair
May 15, 2012
Black-headed Grosbeak, Big Cottonwood Park
May 16, 2012
First images of the Virginia Rail occurred on an overcast day
Another view of an adult Virginia Rail when lighting was marginal
The image of a Juvenile Virginia Rail is less than ideal in poor light!
May 17, 2012
A handsome Cooper's Hawk provided this and other nice images
Big Cottonwood Park, Holladay, UT.
May 17, 2012
Morning Sunshine assists in lighting up the
adult Virginia Rail
May 18, 2012
The 3rd time to Successfully Photograph the Big Cottonwood
Virginia Rails provided me conditions that have a
May 20, 2012
Finally, a decent image of a Juvenile Virginia Rail from Big Cottonwood.
September 12, 2012
Big Cottonwood Park yielded a mixed bag of photos...
Beginning with 2 cool little hummingbirds.
American crows mingled with more Black-billed magpies than I've ever seen at one time!
The above and below images only show a tiny fraction of Magpie/Crow mix gathered here, allowing me to position myself under their
circle of activity!
Here, Crows are gorging on Russian Olive fruit.
The Crows would swoop close to my head as they gathered in a circular fashion in Cottonwood trees surrounding me, with Magpies also present.
They all presented 'easy pickins' as subjects for my camera.
Moving to another location in the Park, I found this noisy character...
And these 2 not-so-noisy characters high up in a tree,
making for fascinating offbeat image captures.
October 12, 2012
A visit to Big Cottonwood Park in Holladay, UT.
produced this Virginia Rail!
I had photographed them in May; but I assumed they had left the area!
Yesterday, Oct. 11
October 20, 2012
A brief visit to Big Cottonwood Park purchased me my first "Marsh Wren"!
The shooting session was over in a matter of seconds!
With the world's largest lighting diffuser (clouds!), I couldn't pass up this Northern Flicker although there are many others on this page already!
October 29, 2012
A Repeat Performance with a Cooper's Hawk at Big Cottonwood Park,
Approximately once a week, I encounter the same bird, on the same perch, at the same time (evening)...
This evening the bird provided me both back and frontal positions
November 4, 2012
Late Autumn Colors
Big Cottonwood Park, Holladay, UT.
On a cloudy day, another Cooper's Hawk (an adult bird)
On the same day, two Northern Flickers created a lovely scene
while feasting of Russian Olive Fruit.
Female Northern Red-shafted Flicker (L); Male (R)
On a subsequent sunny day, I finally had access
to a cooperative Marsh Wren!
The Wren began vocalizing here...
My first Bohemian Waxwing image!
Dec. 9, 2012
Talk about a needle in a haystack... trying to ferret out a Bohemian from literally hundreds of Cedar Waxwings...
Same Bohemian Waxwing...
Compare this Cedar Waxwing,
photographed moments before...
DECEMBER 9, 2012 UPDATE ON
THAT ARE NEWCOMERS TO THE PARK
They were foraging on Russian Olives...
December 11, 2012
Big Cottonwood Park, Holladay, UT.
had its own share of Evening Grosbeaks and other fun birds...
Male Evening Grosbeak
Female Evening Grosbeak
American Goldfinch, winter plumage...
Tons of Juncos
My 6th Red X Yellow Shafted Northern Flicker intergrade in 12 months!
I can't pass up photographing American Kestrels!
December 15, 2012
Catching up with images from Big Cottonwood/Creekside Parks:
I'll begin with this female Downy Woodpecker, to complement the male seen further below
Again, Brown Creeper
in more detail
Screech Owl, being mobbed by Black-capped Chickadees!
And a 3rd image of the diminutive Western Screech Owl.
Adult Cooper's Hawk
I discovered Evening Grosbeaks again, this time across the road to the north, at Big Cottonwood Park
Since I have so many other Evening Grosbeak images, I included this one for its novel "pose"!
"Rock Doves" (pigeons) are apparently fond of Russian Olives also...
I tried to locate other Bohemian Waxwings to no avail... only Cedar Waxwings were to be seen.
The resident American Kestrel at Big Cottonwood Park...
And, a handsome Juvenile Cooper's hawk who emerged from a small tree on the pond, and posed on the deck/fence!
With this image, the bird bade me adieu...
topping off a memorable day with Jeff Cooper.
See Jeff's rendition of the day BY CLICKING HERE
December 17, 2012
A Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker Male!
(a good find!)
Creekside Park, Holladay, UT.
Below: a common Red-Shafted Northern Flicker Male from today for comparison!
Here is a Red-Shafted X Yellow-Shafted
Intergrade male (L) I discovered at the same location, in the company of a
Here is the Northern Yellow-Shafted Flicker!
Another view showing the "yellow shaft" (tail) coloration
This view shows: red neck stripe; black malar; yellow 'shaft'
The Flicker went to ground here:
Its beak is coated with mud here, due to it foraging in the grass.
This image shows one side of the red neck stripe...
And this image shows the neck stripe in its entirety
My 2nd Bohemian Waxwing, also from Creekside Park
December 19, 2012
CREEKSIDE PARK, HOLLADAY, UT.
Looking for Yellow-Shafted Flickers again today, I had a chance meeting with Steve Carr, who asked me the location of my first Yellow-Shafted, 2 days earlier. I told him it was where we were standing.
Moments later, he exclaimed there was a Yellow-Shafted flicker in flight in front of us. I saw it as it landed and captured some diagnostic images (see below)
Another image showing the red crest, and a bit of yellow
Also, today, Dec. 19, I happened onto
15 Evening Grosbeaks
across the street from Creekside, in Big Cottonwood Park; and this time I had blue sky (and sub-freezing temps!)
But the most fun, and colorful of all...
A willing Spotted Towhee.
Shifting position with a little wing-power
Lots of fine detail here...
A side view ends the sequence.
JANUARY 1, 2013
IMAGES FROM BIG COTTONWOOD PARK, HOLLADAY, UT.
Handsome Redtailed Hawk
Evening Grosbeaks are back!
My 3rd Bohemian Waxwing!
Northern Red-Shafted Flicker male
Yesterday marked the 9th Northern Red X Yellow Shafted Flicker Intergrade for me within the time span of 12 months!
Regarding my Yellow-shafted Flicker, one birder responded privately saying, "Not only enjoyed your great photos, but also appreciated the details outlining how to I.D a Yellow-shafted Flicker. Thanks!"
I wonder if some might not know what to look for on intergrades!
I've circled the red crescent on the back of this bird's neck, characteristic of an intergrade!
January 14, 2013
Having a community-bath in Creekside Park/Big Cottonwood Creek
Recently, I had an opportunity to capture images of Cedar Waxwings en masse,
in Big Cottonwood Creek.
There were dozens of them, thoroughly enjoying themselves!
And, so was I, given this exceptional opportunity, with the birds totally ignoring my presence!
I must say, the experience of watching these birds was
Photoshop to the rescue to improve these birds' appearance, like I saw them!
Roll your 'mouse' over the image to reveal the outcome... Before and After
January 15, 2013
Single Digit Temperatures Dampen Bird Activities
Robins cluster at a tiny patch of open water, moving slowly while drinking
In spite of the extreme cold, even Song sparrows must drink
Mourning Doves that decided to overwinter here, tolerate me being close while taking my walk in the calm, extremely cold evening
Among the more active birds is the Yellow-Rumped warbler
Russian olives constitute their diets this day
The lovely Cedar Waxwings were also flitting about...
Searching for a Bohemian among them was fruitless this evening
January 16, 2013
Another Rare bird, along with some other nice birds from Big Cottonwood Park
a "White-Throated Sparrow"
Today, I succeeded in adding its images to my portfolio!
White Throated sparrow...
And a 3rd image...
Some glimpses of the resident Virginia Rail still present in sub-freezing weather...
"Deedee" and I encountered a cluster of Evening Grosbeaks at this time also...
And, last but not least, another lovely and rare Bohemian Waxwing!
Bohemian Waxwing with a Russian olive
JANUARY 21, 2013
BIG COTTONWOOD RARELY DISAPPOINTS (ME)
Below, we see the White-throated Sparrow, images like others have posted of this rare bird.
Now we depart from the typical static images of this bird, to observe it
taking a bath in sub-freezing conditions!
Now to another special bird, the Bohemian Waxwings!
Such a lovely species!
Up Close and Personal!
Digressing for a moment to view the ubiquitous Cedar Waxwing,
lovely in its own right...
I have been collecting images of various species
such as these 2 Cedar Waxwings!
Also, this Bohemian Waxwing is seen eating snow.
For any who aren't bird-savvy, such as many of the people walking their dogs at the park, notice the difference between the Bohemian (top) and the Cedar (bottom) Waxwing species.
Below are numerous images of a White-throated Sparrow...
Why? Because it is rare here!
JANUARY 22, 2013
As of today, I've succeeded in locating the White-throated Sparrow at Big Cottonwood Park 6 consecutive times, the most recent provided another 'action' series where the bird collected Russian Olives for food!
The Sparrow as of 2:30 P.M., 1/21/13:
The bird was foraging, thus moving around a bit...
Here, the bird flew/jumped to snatch a Russian Olive.
Successful with the olive, the bird promptly flew out of sight.
There were 2 Cooper's Hawks in the same area...
Here's the first one...
And the 2nd one! Most of the other birds vacated the area, making it easier for me to spot the above White-throated Sparrow.
January 25, 2013
Foul Air, Fog, Ice keep me inside these days!
This gives me a moment to say to Big Cottonwood/Creekside patrons who read my site, are usually curious, but not savvy about birds:
Below are some very common birds seen at this time of year, starting with
a Song Sparrow,
puffed up against sub-freezing temps.
Male House Finch,
its bright colors contrasting against the cold winter sky
who decided to overwinter here.
a bird common year around, stays hidden in the underbrush.
An adult White-crowned Sparrow...
Contrasted against this Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow!
April 12, 2013
For those of you who frequent Big Cottonwood Park, be on the lookout for a
male Wood duck on the pond.
August 9, 2013
Walking in Holladay's Big Cottonwood Park, off Murray-Holladay Rd.,
I located a female Belted Kingfisher, determined to take one of the many goldfish there...
On an overcast day, I located my first Western Kingbird
Big Cottonwood Park.
Along with a stealthy juvenile Black-headed Grosbeak...
But, the bird that provided the most fun was
this juvenile female American Kestrel yesterday (8-17)
She seemed curious, and would fly short distances to a new perch...
providing me with this gratifying BIF
image as she left...
August 21, 2013
The only bird of significance was a single male
at Big Cottonwood Park, Holladay, Ut.
Under overcast skies it provided several nice images, seen below
September 1, 2013
Such a Hot Summer!
Birding has been difficult these days!
Below is an example of an American Kestrel that was stressed to the point that it perched with mouth agape, and wings held a distance away from her body!
A bit closer...
September 23, 2013
Taking advantage to photograph migrant birds at
Big Cottonwood Park, Holladay, UT.,
over a span of 2 weeks or so, I have a sizeable number to post.
This post is for all those people (mostly with dogs) that
greet me during my multiple visits to the park.
These people are, for the most part not birders; but who have a genuine love of Nature.
I begin this post with images of the most talked-about, stealthy creatures that live there!
FOXES and SNAKES!
(Notice, these are 2 separate foxes, with one having a white-tipped tail)
I've talked about the "water snakes" seen at Big Cottonwood Park,
saying that there are no "true" water snakes in Utah...
only one of 3 species of Garter snakes that frequent water,
such as this one, living in the pond with the goldfish...
Let's move on to the current bird population!
I begin with pairs of birds not commonly seen together...
2 American Kestrels...
2 Belted Kingfishers,
conducting aerial acrobatics above the pond...
(What are the odds of capturing a frame that has 2 of these birds
at the same time?!)
in a tree west of the pond...
2 Cooper's Hawks...
on a cloudy day.
Close up of one of the Cooper's Hawks that lingered in the tree...
Overcast skies diminished the colors of these birds a bit...
Moving on to other bird species...
Here is a tiny Wilson's Warbler, curious about my camera.
A new bird for me, a MacGillivray's Warbler
There are plenty of these Nashville Warblers currently in the park...
Along with Orange-crowned Warblers such as this...
And a view on an overcast day.
Another bright Warbler is this
Still another 'showy' Warbler is this Audubon's
(I would have named it, 'Yellow-throated Warbler!)
I was able to get another striking specimen of the
Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler
(these birds have been nicknamed, "Butter-Butts" by birders)
Finally on this sunny day, I was successful in getting this bird
showing its 'yellow' rump... (2nd image below).
All the above images are Audubon's Yellow-rump Warblers.
This Yellow-rump is a "Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler" distinguished by a white throat patch and other coloration.
As is this bird...
On to other bird species,
Big Cottonwood Park has been alive with many female
but absolutely NO males!
Here, a female Western Tanager is in a mid-jump!
I post this male Western Tanager from August for a comparison between the sexes. No males are around at present!
I was surprised to discover a Warbling Vireo at the park.
Another view of the Warbling Vireo
And still a 3rd view...
On another evening, with light fading quickly, I encountered another
This time, lighting and surroundings provided a
A sure sign of fall migration is the appearance of White-crowned Sparrows, like this adult male...
Here is an example of a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow, taken a day later at the same location.
Here is another sparrow, a
not often seen in this park.
Another migrant sparrow I discovered there is a
(I hope I got it right! )
Another, for diagnostic purposes,
And a 3rd image, for the Experts to hopefully verify as a
A Downy Woodpecker male was seen also
Sunflowers and Teasels are typical foliage seen in the park...
With Black-capped Chickadees
exploiting the sunflowers...
also 'home in' on the sunflowers...
Several species of
are migrating through the area...
With one Flycatcher occupying the same territory as a
Lots of Hummingbirds, such as this
are still in the Park...
One day recently, I spotted a 'Hummer' on a twig, focused my camera on it, to have the bird go airborne.
I followed its antics with my lens, to see later that it was feasting on tiny flying insects!
Note the tiny black dots surrounding the bird in the following sequence!
Here, the "Hummer" homes in on a particular airborne fly!
Fun to shoot such a series!
Big Cottonwood Park now has seen its first
"ALIEN EURASIAN-COLLARED DOVES",
that are making inroads throughout the United States, and beyond!
Northern Red-Shafted Flickers
are now returning to the park,
and many will overwinter here,
such as this male, vocalizing at the time of the image.
These birds spend lots of time on the ground, searching for insects...
But also forage in the trees...
Looks like this male
is mimicking a
"Bird with an Olive Branch"...!
And is far different in appearance from its mate, the
Female House Finch
September 27, 2013
To those of you who frequent Big Cottonwood Park in Holladay, where we occasional meet and enjoy conversation about birds and such.
My discovery of a Tennessee Warbler in the park
is a 'big deal' in the Utah birding world.
I almost immediately began to receive emails from distinguished bird experts after I posted my images, such as this:
"You have a very nice set of photos of a first-fall Tennessee Warbler. That's a great find - they're quite rare in Utah"
Another highly respected responder said:
Clearly a Tennesee Warbler... Please submit this gem to the
I did follow the advice of the latter expert; and my "Utah Bird Records Committee Report, Unusual Sight Record" has been duly filed
I've only kept a few images of the Tennessee Warbler here,
September 29, 2013
Although I've seen the foxes many times in Big Cottonwood Regional Park, they were most often running away, and ducking into the thickets.
Last evening I surprised the fox (with the white-tipped tail) and it began to dive into the thicket.
I spoke loudly to the animal, saying to stop, which, it did,
long enough for me to get a fine image of it!!
October 2, 2013
I'm still concentrating on birds in
Big Cottonwood Regional Park
Yesterday and today I discovered a
CASSIN'S VIREO, so I have images in direct sunlight (yesterday)
and indirect (overcast) light (today).
Yesterday's Cassin's Vireo
Today's images, under diffuse (cloudy) skies helps create a
Another Cassin's Vireo from today.
October 7, 2013
Talk about "Backyard-Birding",
Big Cottonwood Regional Park
certainly provides it for me!
Here are some recent 'discoveries', this time,
Visitors at the Park love to discuss sightings of these elusive creatures!
So, I accomodate by posting my most recent images of
Now for birds...
A cute, tiny Townsend's Warbler, the 1st one I've seen there!
Another tiny, cute bird, a
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet in deep shadows,
that's about to 'move up in the world'...
Here's another Ruby-Crowned Kinglet in direct sun...
Here's an ultra-close view... notice the detail!
And this bird erupts into flight also...
are true acrobats!
A side-view, with a mouthfull of sunflower seeds before takeoff...
Off he goes!
No question as to what this bird is, their yellow rump is
quite obvious while in flight.
I've been seeng large flocks of
So, I captured a few with my camera while they were in flight
This bird was eyeing me closely as it passed overhead...
Finally, let's look at an
INTERGRADE NORTHERN FLICKER
evidenced by a telltale red crescent showing on the back of it's head.
OCT. 18, 2013
(The consensus regarding the bird below is:
Female Common Yellowthroat)
discovered in Big Cottonwood Park, 9-17-13
More to come....