My Personal Highlights (Images) from the Year, 2013

When photographing birds, many excellent images are passed by when editing for posts. For this Review of the year, 2013, the majority of images I've posted have not been published until now.


Below, beginning with January 2013, I'm taking you down "Memory Lane" from January through December.


January, 2013

Horned Grebe, non-breeding plumage, Sandy Pond, Jan 3, 2013



For Comparison:

Horned Grebe, Breeding Plumage, Farmington Bay, April 2013




Evening Grosbeak Pair, Big Cottonwood Park, Jan.3, 2013




Single Male Evening Grosbeak, close up, Big Cottonwood Park, Jan. 2013




White-throated Sparrow, Big Cottonwood Park, Jan. 2013


Same White-throated Sparrow... another cold day in January.




Resident Virginia Rail, Big Cottonwood Park, Jan. 2013




Same Virginia Rail, in sunshine on yet another day in January!




Bohemian Waxwing, Big Cottonwood Park, Jan. 2013




Another Bohemian Waxwing, same day...




Cedar Waxwings, Big Cottonwood, January




Prairie Merlin, Big Cottonwood Park, Jan. 2013








February 2013:


Below is the sequence of Red-wing Blackbird images fighting in mid-air:


















I was delighted to discover and photograph a "1st Spring Male Common Merganser",

seen here:

Front-left = Male Common Merganser

Center = Female

Right = 1st Spring Male Common Merganser



Greater Scaups are a nice find on the Jordan River/Sandy UT.

Male (L); Female (R)




Male - close up:




Female - close up...



A Barrow's Goldeneye pair, another good find on the Jordan river/Sandy UT. in Feb. 2013.




February, at Farmington Bay, time for Bald Eagles!










And Northern Harriers!



Same day in February, at Farmington Bay, a Glaucous Gull, in a 'long call posture' (bottom bird).



Glaucous gull in flight...




A 3rd winter Western Gull, Farmington Bay, Feb. 2013.



3rd winter Western Gull...



February, 2013, Willow Pond in Murray, UT., having fun with Canvasbacks!




The male is midway in its dive!




Male Canvasback and 2 Male Redheads, frontlit with direct sun...



Contrast the above with this Redhead, in flat light (overcast).




Overcast lighting persisted on Willow Pond at a time that I photographed a pair of Common Mergansers.




Notice the 2 male Mergansers on either side of the female.

They look like over-inflated decoys, I assume, to keep warm!


Common Mergansers aren't 'common' in my world; I photograph them as often as I can!


Here, a female Common Merganser begins a stretch sequence... (Willow Pond - February 2013).







2 Males 'stretching' at the same time...Willow Pond



Often, when selecting images to post, I'm impressed with the detail that is lost when the entire bird is on display. An example of this extreme detail is shown below, a cropped image of a female Common Merganser.




On February 24, 2013, a lone Tundra Swan dropped onto Willow pond!

Notice the telltale yellow on its bill, marking it as a Tundra swan.







It investigated the entire pond and was still there when I left.


The very next day, on February 25, things got interesting again!!!

Another single Tundra Swan dropped in at Willow Pond.

This is not the same swan from the day before... Notice, only a tiny speck of yellow is seen on this bird's bill, close to the eye!



This was a lovely bird; and I was able to capture lots of images of it!




It took flight before I left...




Ironically, I was present when some cormorants appeared; and one of them was unmistakably a Neotropic Cormorant!

Note: it is the smaller bird with outstretched wings.




The birds changed locations on Willow Pond... and the NECO followed.




the Double-Crested cormorants behaved like the NECO was invisible!

(the smallest bird, on the left).

I made record of this NECO, since, to my knowledge, it was the earliest reported Neotropic Cormorant yet in Utah (February 25, 2013)!




The end of February, I located this NECO (likely the same bird) over on Mill Race Pond in Murray, UT., less than a mile away from Willow Pond.



March 2013:

On March 2, at Mill Race, I observed both the NECO and a juvenile Double-crested Cormorant, providing a nice size comparison between the 2 species.



Double Crested cormorants appear at Sandy Pond...



During March, I was busy testing the tiny Canon SX50 Point & Shoot camera, on whatever showed up!

Fox at Sandy Pond (SX-50)




Muskrat on the Jordan River, Sandy UT. (SX-50)




Close-up... (SX-50)




On bright, sunny days, the little Canon surprises me with its quality...

Jordan River, Sandy. Geen-winged teal (SX-50)




American Wigeon (SX-50)



Canvasback (SX-50)


Sandy Pond, Greater Scaup (L), with Lesser Scaup for comparison. (SX-50)



Greater Scaup male... (SX-50)



Greater Scaup male (SX-50)



Mehraban Wetlands in Draper supplied some Hooded Mergansers again...

Male... (SX-50)



Female... (SX-50)




1st Spring Male Hooded Merganser... (SX-50)




Adult Male with 1st Spring male Hooded Merganser. (SX-50)




A backyard visit from a colorful Western scrub jay...





April 2013,


As March, 2013 transitioned into April, more Neotropic Cormorants appeared at Mill Race Pond, providing me the opportunity for action photos.







April is the traditional time for Double-crested Cormorants at Sandy Pond...



April was the time for several Ospreys to hunt over Sandy Pond.



And April brought more sunlit days to northern Utah!




Caspian Terns appeared at Sandy Pond...

Photographing birds like this one is like eating popcorn... I can't stop!






A novel 'hybrid' duck, a Cinnamon X Blue-Wing Teal Male ("Shyloh's" discovery)

in a flooded field near Farmington Bay:






APRIL, CONTINUED at Monterey Bay, California!



Springtime in Pacific Grove, CA.




A pair of Western gulls, engaging in feeding/courtship:









The location: George Washington Park, Pacific Grove... home for a variety of birds, beginning with a Spotted Towhee.






Home of the California Towhee:



California Towhee




But my main interest was, Acorn Woodpeckers! (adult female)



adult male


He begins to 'chip away'.



But there was some disturbance with loud vocalization from nearby crows!




Another Acorn woodpecker scans the overhead canopy for danger!




Its gaze pinpointed the presence of a Red-shouldered hawk with a horrific prize!




The hawk was gripping no less than 4 baby Crows in the beginning, and was making short work of them!



Afterward, things settled down again...









There were times when as many as 5 woodpeckers would be foraging around me!




I spent many hours over several days enjoying this area! Only a few varieties are shown here.



Over to the coastline...

Black Brant were seen (first time for me!)



foraging in a tidal lagoon at Pacific Grove...



Black Brant stretching...








A Brandt's Cormorant, with its fluorescent gular (breeding) pouch, sunning among the rocks...




A Pelagic Cormorant doing the same...




On Asilomar State Beach, a lone Whimbrel strolls.



Black Turnstones were everywhere...









With only 1 Wandering Tattler visible...



Always a few Black Oystercatchers were seen...






The tidal lagoons harbored sizeable numbers of Western Grebes...



And I finish out my 2013 California trip with a 'kiss'!





May, 2013

In Lehi, Ut., there is a complex of small ponds that were especially productive in May, called, "Powell Lake".




Long-billed Dowitcher, accompanied by a Least Sandpiper




Least Sandpiper...



Long-billed Dowitcher...



Black-necked Stilt...



American White Pelican...



Spotted Sandpiper...



Marbled Godwit...



Forster's Tern...




Forster's tern diving for fish...



With unexpected success... multiple fishes!



Ultra-closeup of the Forster's catch...

I count at least 3 fish from 1 dive!



Eared Grebe, breeding plumage...



Franklin's Gull...




White-faced Ibis...



Snowy Egret...



Snowy Egret in flight...









Willet in flight...






Wilson's Phalaropes...






Again...Lone female



Wilson's Phalaropes amidst American Avocets displaying.



American Avocets... breeding behavior.



American Avocets...



Single bird closeup...






America Avocet on nest... (Canon SX-50)



Semipalmated Plover...



side view ...



Ultra close-up...Semipalmated Plover lying in the mud!


Osprey flyover...




Sandhill Crane flyover...






A gorgeous Swainson's Hawk!



and a well-worn Red-tailed hawk...



Now we come to the feature attraction at Powell Lake, Lehi Ut., May 2013!


Least Tern!



How large is a Least Tern? Length: 9"; Wt: 1.5 oz.


Compare size with a Least Sandpiper:



Now with an American Avocet!



What would you imagine the Avocet is thinking?


One final size comparison:

Least Sandpiper/Least Tern/Avocet.



Imagine how difficult such a bird would be to photograph in flight!



Enjoy a series of this aerial acrobat flying! I've included a lot of images of this rare bird, since I'm not likely to see another!

























The Least Tern captures a tiny fish in a dive...







Time for a rest...



A Turkey Vulture overhead at Powell lake, Lehi, Ut. 2013...











I complete Lehi, UT, with a gorgeous

Bullock's Oriole male...



In flight...



Classic Pose...



Before we leave the month of May, take a look at a few of the birds at Crestwood Park.

A female Black-headed Grosbeak begins her bath in Little Cottonwood Creek...




She begins with a stretch...




She immerses herself in the cold water.




She takes a break, to repeat the same process several times.




Crestwood Park always has a large number of these birds in spring.




Male Black-headed Grosbeak



I noticed a foreign object in the beak of this Black-headed Grosbeak...



I assumed it might be a metal staple!

I inquired online to Utah birders... what could this be?!

"Rick" a well-known expert from southern Utah, wrote:

"bug legs!" So it is!!!




A pair of Northern Flickers were in the process of pairing off at Crestwood. They were unusual, with the female being a typical Northern Red-shafted Flicker...



And the male being a Red-shafted X Yellow-shafted intergrade, depicted as such by the presence of a red crescent on his nape.




Here a bit of displaying was occurring...



Ending with the pair mating.






Crestwood Park,

California Quail, ready to warn if I got close to the covey, hidden directly below him.

(Equipment...Nikon D7000; lens: 300mm f4+1.4 teleconverter;

Cost approx $3,000)


Same bird:

Taken with a Canon SX50;

Cost: Less than $400!

NOTE: I'm not affiliated with any camera companies!




Springtime coloration of a Crestwood male House Finch...




A Black-capped Chickadee provided close looks...



As did a Spotted Towhee, another bird well represented at Crestwood.




I was fortunate in finding lots of Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers over a several day period.













Crestwood Park can be a very productive area.

Black-chinned Hummingbird.

Nikon D7000

Cost approx $3,000


Same bird...

Canon SX50;

Cost: Less than $400!




Crestwood Flycatcher (sp)

Canon SX50;




Crestwood Fox.



Mill Race Pond, Murray, UT.

American White Pelicans and Neotropic Cormorants (normal focal length) SX-50




ULTRA-CLOSEUP (50 x magnification) of same Neotropic cormorant as seen above!











June, 2013

The Jordan River Parkway played heavily in my bird-photography during June,



My experimentation with the Canon SX 50 Point & Shoot continued as seen

in the next 2 images below , (a view of the river as the eye would see it).

I have circled an uncommon (LATE JUNE) visitor, a Common Goldeneye duck.



Taking full advantage of the camera's magnification, including some in-camera digital expansion, the duck looked like this!



At the area known as the Kennecott Nature Center, a Snowy Egret was fishing for Eurasian Weather Loaches that somehow have been introduced into the Jordan River ecosystem.



A Spotted Sandpiper was skirting the edge of the pond looking for food.


Barn Swallows were vocalizing as they scuffle...


In the shade of a huge tree, streamside, a male California quail tolerated my camera well!


Eurasian Collared Doves are very common along the river now...



This day, they were coming in to bathe...



When this bird appeared, I thought I had a special dove, since it was so white!



Brown-headed Cowbirds were well-represented along the river.



Although Neotropic Cormorants seasonally occupy ponds adjacent to the river, the year, 2013 saw them 'discover' the river.




First I discovered one bird... seen here (and above).



Another day there were 3 clustered at the same location!


Eventually, I counted 7 birds within a 4 block area on the river; and they stayed the majority of the summer.

I post this image, since the bird flew so close to me that it occupied the entire frame of my camera!



Walking the trail along the river, a Killdeer began to vocalize...



It decided to employ the famous, 'wounded bird' technique to lure me away from the area, likely due to hidden young close by.





Seeing that I was no threat, it casually moved away.




A few hundred yards downstream, this Cooper's hawk was bathing.








Later, I saw the bird again, and photographed it with the SX-50 camera, rather than the Nikon DSLR.




There were a fair number of Western Kingbirds...





June is an amazing time of year along the Jordan River/Murray Parkway trail, with dozens of Bullock Orioles fledging! Here is one nestled in the 'hanging' nest.



Another fledgling was out of the nest and wandering around the limbs.



I noticed adult females feeding fledglings, with a noticeable absence of Males! (A female with food for the excited youngster).



I finally did locate a male assisting in feeding the young...



This youngster is notably older than the fledgeling shown earlier.



July 2013

Twas the time of the Goldfinch Brigade, sweeping up and down the Jordan River Parkway, whether it be sunny or gray! They were feasting on Thistle seed pods.

An American Goldfinch male... imitating a vulture...?



An overcast day... another American Goldfinch...



This particular Goldfinch's black head patch is askew!





A sunny day, and a perfect American Goldfinch, among the thistles.


Another overcast day...American Goldfinch male (L) joined by a male Lesser Goldfinch.



Overcast days sometimes reap benefits for photographers.



A juvenile Western Kingbird...






Back to Goldfinches... a male Lesser Goldfinch on an overcast day.


Saying Grace...



A teenager...



"Don't talk with your mouth full!"



With sunshine comes intense colors!

House Finch male...



Another view...



Color intensity among Lesser Goldfinches is also ramped up...







This Lesser Goldfinch male provided numerous sharp, detailed images!



A walk down the 'hidden trail' at Big Cottonwood Park revealed a juvenile Black-headed Grosbeak!




August 2013


August 2013 was a continuation of record breaking heat and significant drought!

Range and forest fires filled the air with smoke, making our sunsets especially colorful.



I've never seen an American Kestrel show heat stress, with mouth agape and wings held a distance away from the body, but here is one from Big Cottonwood park!



Earlier, the same Kestrel provided me with the following images during a cooler time in August.










In August I located another juvenile Western Kingbird...





And I had several opportunities to do some flight photography with other Western Kingbirds, both at Big Cottonwood Park, and the Jordan River Parkway.




With the sun setting one late evening, an adult Western was 'fly-catching' from a particular tree at Big Cottonwood...




Not much more than a silhouette in waning light...



The bird would successfully fly mid-field and capture flying insects, then retreat back to the same tree. This procedure was repeated many times.


















Again, at Big Cottonwood Park, a regular visitor, a Belted Kingfisher

feasted on...







Kingfishers aren't the only predator looking for fish...

The pond and adjacent areas are populated with Garter snakes, such as this one, enjoying cool water with the air temp. being over 100 degrees!



Squirrels, are seen foraging on Russian olives at Big Cottonwood...



And, in August, 2013 at the park, I had one final chance to photograph a Western Tanager male, migrating through.







In Murray, UT, along the Jordan River was a lone Spotted Sandpiper that had shed its spots (non-breeding).




Here, in flight...




Contrast the spots on this Solitary Sandpiper from the same location in June. (Breeding plumage)



September 2013


September 2013 was very 'birdy', and was a highlight for my birding experiences! I discovered a rare Tennesse Warbler at Big Cottonwood Park in Holladay UT. The bird was accepted by the Utah Rare Birds committee.

I have include a sizeable number of images here, some of which are being published for the first time.















Although this image isn't great, it is important, illustrating the white undertail coverts, which distinguishes it as a Tennesee rather than an Orange-crowned Warbler.







September continued to break heat records, along with drought conditions, such as the pond at the Murray/Jordan River/Kennecott Nature Center!



A brief visit to Antelope Island...American Avocets in non-breeding plumage



No shortage of Long-billed Curlews.



Loggerhead Shrike...



Hermit Thrush at the Garr Ranch



Say's Phoebe




another image...



Also at the Ranch, a Cassin's Vireo




Again, Cassin's



Back at Big Cottonwood Park in Holladay, a fierce looking cat prowling for birds.



A bright male Lesser Goldfinch...



Other Goldfinches...






A Western Wood-Pewee, I believe...



2 American Kestrels...




Cooper's Hawk...






Belted Kingfisher hovering the pond...




I find it a bit rare to capture 2 Kingfishers in flight in the same frame!



No males, just jumpin' female Western Tanagers migrating through the park in September, and lots of them!


another female Western tanager...



A Brewer's sparrow at Big Cottonwood, with other views below...








A novelty, in the form of a 1st winter male Black-headed Grosbeak at Cottonwood



A surprise Warbling Vireo also at the park in evening







Another evening, and likely the same Warbling Vireo in a 'painterly' light.





Warblers were migrating through Big Cottonwood Park big time

Here's a Nashville warbler.



And another...



A MacGillivray's Warbler...




And, I believe, another MacGillivray's?




I enjoyed lots of Wilson's Warblers also.









The park had many Orange-crowned Warblers at one time...








Not sure what Warbler this is... I thought it to be another Orange-crowned



Until it revealed its underside, showing white...



This Nashville Warbler also has white underparts like the bird above, but it sports a complete eye-ring.


Frontal view of Nashville Warbler



Fall Warblers can be tricky to I.D.






October 2013


Yellow-rumped Warblers were one of the last species to come through

Big Cottonwood Park









The Orange-crowned Warblers were one of the last to leave the park.




Below are 3 images of an accomodating Orange Crowned that provided stellar results!









Overhead in Big Cottonwood on a cloudy day, came my 1st "Taiga" Merlin!

All other Merlins I've photographed were Prairie Merlins.



along came a solitary Townsend's Warbler...




And over a 2 day period I had access to a Cassin's Vireo at the park!










I enjoy this image of a Cassin's Vireo, taken on an overcast day.



Ruby-crowned Kinglets were migrating through; and I always looked for an opportunity to photograph one displaying its 'ruby crown', to no avail.



Not even a hint of the color on the head!



I was happy to achieve good detail, nevertheless.

(more about this species later)



I concentrated on sparrows, and included the most common one at the park, a Song Sparrow



However, one day a few Chipping Sparrows came through...









The last Chipping Sparrow.




One overcast day in October, I noticed about 6 birds a distance away, gorging on the Russian olives at Big Cottonwood park. I discovered, as soon as I raised my camera, they were Evening Grosbeaks!



I had just a few in my 'sights' for less than 10 minutes!









Over the months I watched carefully with hope they would return, as they did the year before... It didn't happen. I believe I'm the only one who reported Evening Grosbeaks in the Salt Lake Valley this autumn/winter!




Back to Ruby-Crowned Kinglets...

Toward the end of October, a sizeable group of them returned to Big Cottonwood; and I finally had my day when they displayed!!!












This image is my 'crowning glory' for Ruby-Crowned Kinglets!



Over at Crestwood Park, birding was getting interesting... Redtailed Hawk.






Gorgeous bird...!



At the other end of the spectrum, a tiny Blue-gray Gnatcatcher arrived.



I'm guessing this is a 'pink-sided Junco'.



A new camera improved my Birds in flight, I believe... (entry level Nikon DSLR)



I've reported it before, that Crestwood also has a number of Northern Flicker Red-shafted X Yellow-shafted intergrades, evidenced by the red crescent on the bird's nape.



Crestwood is home for lots of these guys... Spotted Towhees.. fun against the autumn foliage background!




Up close...



Finally, for October, I included one of many foxes found at Crestwood and Big Cottonwood park... this one about to pounce on a vole!








November 2013


November didn't have a large number of species for me to photograph; but I did locate some that were rare or otherwise interesting...


Yellow Shafted Flicker, Big Cottonwood Park, with its head showing 2 distinct features: the red crescent on the nape; and the black malar that replaces the red malar on Red-Shafted Flickers.



Notice the tiny bit of yellow showing in the undertail area... hence "Yellow-Shafted".



The bird was facing me, while it twisted its head to look behind.



I created this panel to demonstrate (from a sunny day), the differences among Northern Red- and Yellow-shafted and an intergrade Northern Flicker.




At Big Cottonwood Park there were several intergrades, with this image showing one male (L) with a male Northern Red-Shafted Flicker.



Here was a new bird for me... a Lewis's Woodpecker, at Tanner Park in Salt Lake.









Lewis's Woodpecker about to snatch a flying insect.







Another Lewis's in flight...




An unexpected bird for northern Utah!! a Pacific Loon at Lake Park, Salt Lake County, on an overcast morning.












It was suggested that this Red-tailed hawk that stayed in Big Cottonwood park area for about 2 weeks, was a Harlan's X Red-tail hybrid.










Another journey to Antelope Island in November netted me a juvenile Sabine's Gull.













Nearby was a Black Scoter...




along with several Surf Scoters, like this 1st year male.




This image shows three Surf Scoters, of varying ages.




Finally, for November, I photographed this female Long-Tailed duck on the Jordan river, about 2300 South.



December 2013


After the first week of December, we were hit with sub-freezing temps that lasted the entire month.

Birds were sparse where I roamed; the need for exercise drove me out the door until the air became unhealthy (and still is as of January!).


Before I gave up entirely, I managed to find the few images below.

Look closely at the very last image... to see a bedraggled White-crowned sparrow bathing in sub-freezing temps amidst dirty snow. I wished him well as I turned away to come home and begin this review.

In creating this review, it provided the "light and heat" within me to look forward to better days.

Richard Young



My first Hermit Thrush at Big Cottonwood Park!



Hoping to see Bohemian waxwings as happened the December before, I managed a few Cedar waxwings.









This snow occurring in early December still covers the ground at Big Cottonwood as we exit January '14.



The fox's expression says it all!!









A seldom seen bird at Big Cottonwood, a Western Scrub Jay with an olive.



Even Juncos were having a time of it.









White-Crowned sparrow bathing on a sub-freezing day!