Yesterday I photographed a mixture of birds on Antelope Island State Park.

Chukar walking on the Oolitic sand dunes of the Great Salt LakeChukar walking on the Oolitic sand dunes of the Great Salt Lake – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

There aren’t many places on this planet where a Chukar can be photographed walking on an Oolitic sand dune, I’m fortunate that I live where I can do that. The oolitic sand this Chukar is walking on was formed in the Great Salt Lake when calcium carbonate attached itself to brine shrimp feces in concentric layers. The rolling motion of  the waves on the lake give the grains of sand an egg shape. I was glad I saw the Chukars on the sand.

Preening Lark SparrowPreening Lark Sparrow – Nikon D200, f8, 1/1250, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Later in the morning I spotted this Lark Sparrow perched on some dead Sagebrush branches, it preened for quite some time. I especially liked that the background is composed of sagebrush bushes. These sparrows are so handsome.

Mockingbird chickNorthern Mockingbird chick – Nikon D200, f8, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

While I was photographing the Lark Sparrow I kept hearing a short, soft bird call so I kept peeking around my lens to see what making the sound. Before long I saw a tiny head pop up on a sagebrush and I scoped it with my lens. To my surprise it was a young Northern Mockingbird. It took awhile but the chick hopped up onto a branch where I could get a fairly clear shot of it and as an added bonus it had the Great Salt Lake in the background.

Sage ThrasherSage Thrasher – Nikon D200, f8, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Not very far from the Northern Mockingbird chick I spotted this Sage Thrasher, for a change this one was cooperative and stuck around for a bit. It shouldn’t be long before I start seeing their chicks too.

Chukar chick surrounded by Brine FliesChukar chick surrounded by Brine Flies – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

One of the last stops was near the marina where there are boulders that line the shore. We’ve had a tremendous hatch of Brine Flies and even the Chukars are benefiting from that.

Several Chukars with chicks were on the boulders and the muddy shore and oddly enough I also saw a California Quail with the group. California Quail are not common on the island. One of the adult Chukars that was in the mud had the brine flies covering its back almost to its neck. All of those grayish spots in the air, elongated shapes on the boulder the chick is standing on and dark spots on the boulders in the background are brine flies.

Brine FliesBrine Flies

There were flies tickling my face and hands while I photographed these birds, fortunately they don’t bite! This photo shows just a tiny section of the shoreline and a boulder, the small bits of blue is water, everything else that is on the surface are brine flies.

Mia