March-April 2014





April 28, 2014

Sandy Pond has finally received its first NEOTROPIC CORMORANT since the year of my discovery of them there, 2010!


Speaking of Cormorants, I took advantage of photographing a White Crested, Double Crested Cormorant at Sandy Pond with my little Canon SX50 for some size comparison/digital magnification studies... Cool bird (and camera!)...

12x optical magnification, with the White Crested to the left.



100x in-camera digital magnification...



200x in-camera digital magnification...




April 20, 2014

I celebrated my birthday yesterday, walking with camera in hand, hoping for something special.

The day was overcast, and the trees are just now beginning to foliate.

A group of Cedar Waxwings were located in a Russian olive tree, looking like Christmas ornaments!



A solitary Waxwing stands amidst new, fresh spring foliage, with a few holdover olives from last year.



At the pond a Song Sparrow popped up from dense underbrush, its coloration matching the background perfectly!



At the edge of the pond was a Cooper's hawk...



He flew to the ground alongside the shoreline... Watch out baby ducklings!



April 17, 2014

I've been photographing birds at "Sandy Pond", since the urban fishery opened to the public in 2009 by Sandy City, UT.

The location first appeared on the birding community's Radar in 2010 when I discovered and reported Neotropic cormorants (an alien species to Utah) there in April.

Each year at this time of year I've enjoyed a variety of northern migrating birds there such as American White Pelicans...



migrating Bufflehead ducks,







American Avocets, here in a mating display...








And each year, a pair of Avocets have used the tiny, busy island for nesting






This year, as always, Caspian Terns appear for a brief time as they migrate northward.


Looking for fish!





A Caspian's dive yields a fish!


But only fleetingly! The bird dropped a sizeable trout!


It gains altitude for another attempt.





Another migrant bird, the Osprey, shares the airspace with the Tern.



I'm pleased with the following series of Osprey flight!








The bird (facing away) dives for a trout... Did he succeed?!













So far, so good.. fish still present.







Only to try again!


April 11, 2014

A recent excursion to Farmington Bay produced a long sought-after species of waterfowl, albeit not the best of circumstances.

A lone male Blue-wing Teal was feeding in a flooded field with several Cinnamon Teal... Tough shooting conditions, but, oh.. well!









I'm hoping to replace these images some day; but it helps to have even a poor example of this teal to explain the forthcoming hybrid teal.



Imagine the outcome of hybridization between a Blue-wing above, and the Cinnamon Teal below:



Here is one... A male Blue-wing/Cinnamon Teal hybrid!



Here, again...



And a 3rd image...



Finally, in this series, I post another Teal hybrid!




April 9, 2014

At Sandy Pond, an easily overlooked, tiny Horned Grebe has staged an appearance, bedecked in its Breeding Plumage, (not yet completed!)



Contrast the above bird with the images below, where the Horned Grebe was in its Winter, non-breeding plumage




Another Winter plumage example...




Again, the current visitor to Sandy Pond in bright daylight...






Back view...




The next images show the bird stretching, here with its head twisted almost 180 degrees!



Settling down...









Earlier, on a rainy day, I captured these images...








Now compare the current bird (below) with one from last spring, that was further along in transition to Breeding Plumage...




Last year's bird, from Farmington Bay,




Finally, click HERE for John Crawley's post of a fully transitioned, Breeding Plumage, Horned Grebe, posted on Utah, "Birds Profiles"!

Simply Spectacular!!




April 4, 2014

Bird activity is increasing at Big Cottonwood park.

Several pairs of Canada geese can be seen in and around the Pond.



A male Redwing Blackbird takes an "Audubon" stance for my camera...



Song sparrows are chiming in with their calls!



Male Lesser Goldfinch...



And, several Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, with this one being nestled in the pond area.


These birds are tiny, and they only occasionally will 'flash' their 'ruby' crown...



As seen here...





Typically they are seen looking like this:



April 3, 2014

Big Cottonwood Park...

Now seeing a few new migrant birds!

The 1st bird isn't a migrant.

(I have never seen a California Quail in the Park until now!)


However, this bird, a young male Audubon Yellow-rumped Warbler, appears to be in a state: "pre-alternate molt not yet completed".







Compare the above molting bird with a typical Winter male Audubon

Yellow-rumped Warbler.




This male Northern Red-shafted Flicker, sitting among emerging leaves in a Big Cottonwood tree, shares similar colors.



March 31, 2014

A major loss impacting Belted Kingfishers at Big Cottonwood Park pond this year will be the absence of these!




For several years the pond has supported a sizeable colony of goldfish...



that supported several Belted Kingfishers until freeze-up time!




The redwood deck was their favorite 'perch', used in sighting and capturing goldfish...




Directly below was a Kingfisher's 'dream come true'!...



Concerning the Kingfishers,

Last year, in March, I used them to test a new Canon "Point & Shoot" camera and recommended it to birders as a cheap means of good bird images...

(A Canon SX50 seen here in contrast to my larger Nikon system).




In March, an obliging Kingfisher provided the following 3 images that demonstrate the quality:

12X optical magnification


100% digital in-camera magnification




200% (50X) digital in-camera magnification!

This male Belted Kingfisher stayed around the pond until the ice appeared!

(The above 3 images are directly out-of-camera, demonstrating the quality provided WHEN the camera is properly adjusted via its "Menu" features!)



This year, as Winter relaxed its grip, I was amazed to find hundreds of Goldfish encased in the ice, having suffocated due to shallow water in the pond!

Alas, No Goldfishes... No Belted Kingfishers!!




March 26, 2014

An extended walk at Big Cottonwood between rainstorms produced only one nice bird, a male American Kestrel!



March 25, 2014

Hawks, Waxwings, Robins... is there anything else at Big Cottonwood Park of interest these days of early Spring?

Well, yes...

There is no shortage of FOXES; however, they are very 'camera shy' for some reason!









March 23, 2014

The Harlan's Red-tail Hawk has visited Big Cottonwood 4 consequtive days now, beginning March 20, and continuing through today.

Below are 2 images taken on the 20th, with diffuse sunlight.

The Harlan's hawk was consuming a squirrel!



After lunch, time to launch!

March 22, 2014

Today, yesterday, and the day before, the Harlan's Red-tail Hawk appeared and stayed around in Big Cottonwood Regional Park.

Below are a few "Bird in Flight" images of the handsome bird from today.










March 20, 2014

A once-in-a-lifetime rare bird was provided to me by "Deborah D." yesterday at Big Cottonwood Park!!

We were both at the extreme ends of the park, not aware of each other's presence.

Deb located a "leucistic" American robin!, a predominantly WHITE bird!

Deb stated to another viewer that she wished I was around with my camera, and was told I was also in the park, at the other end!

Deborah hurried a considerable distance to find me, then had me follow to the precise location where I had the great pleasure of photographing the bird!

Leucistic American Robin













I had been teaching bird photography to "Maryella" at the time. She was busy photographing a Cooper's hawk, so I left her, telling her I'd contact her via Cell phone if I was successful.

I had successfully photographed the bird long enough to stop and try to contact Maryella!

Her phone was TURNED OFF!, so I hightailed it back to her hoping the bird would stay put.

It had moved, but Maryella was successful in finding it again, on the edge of a tiny stream, drinking!

We all had a day made greater by Deborah D.'s discovery!

Thanks again, Deborah!!


The image below:

Courtesy, Maryella Cundick




March 14, 2014

A slow recovery of bird species has barely begun at Big Cottonwood Park, with the opportunity to again, photograph the Harlan's hawk in full sunlight; and to include a composite flight series of the bird showing its underside.







A fine specimen of Cooper's hawk provided the following images...









The bird was vocalizing big-time during this photo-shoot.




A small flock of Cedar Waxwings appeared, this time in full frontlit sunlight, with this one being the best marked!







The other Waxwings were also fine looking birds.



Nice, sharp detail, excellent coloration, and a 'catchlight' in its eye!







March 8, 2014

I found a few other cooperative birds to photograph, beginning with Cedar Waxwings on cloudy days:




The fruit from Russian Olive trees is the reason for the Cedar Waxwings being there.










A sunny day, with a male Downy Woodpecker.




A hovering Sharpshinned(?) hawk provided 'Deborah' and me with a few great looks.



March 7, 2014

On Monday, I had the opportunity to photograph (again, after 5 months!)

The Big Cottonwood Regional Park's Harlan's Hawk.

First, a few images of the bird from November, with bright sunlight!












The bird has just taken a rat; unfortunately, a fence interferes with the image.



During November I wasn't able to get many flight images.



In November, I photographed this bird over a 3 week period, routinely.. This day..Cloudy.







A day when the bird did some stretching...



Many other images were taken, only a few posted from November 2013



The following images were from March 2 of this year, taken in a rainstorm!




March 2...






Preening provided a good look at the red tail...



The sun broke out!




Overcast conditions limited the image quality of birds in flight!







March 3, 2014.

My posts on the 2 Utah Birds' listservs regarding the Hooded Mergansers at Mehraban Wetlands in Draper, Utah, met with great success, with scores of people privately thanking me for the heads-up on the birds' location.

Alas, as of yesterday, March 2, the numbers of Hoodies have rapidly dwindled to 2 adult pair, in contrast with an earlier number of birds, well over a dozen!

Final number of birds as of Sunday, March 2:



Male Hooded Merganser in flight...











A series of 'stretches' by the female Hooded Merganser...
















A final image of the 2 remaining female Hooded Mergansers, Draper, UT.