Three years ago today when it was actually Winter

It has been too warm here in Utah to be called “Winter” yet, the snow that we have had hasn’t lasted long and even most of the mornings have been above freezing but the weather forecasters say that is going to change this weekend. Well, weather forecasters are often wrong so I won’t be holding my breath but it does give me a little hope.

Three years ago today though the ground was covered in drifts of snow, the temps were below freezing, there was ice on the ponds & lakes and there was a sharp briskness to the air that can only be found in winter. These are a few of the images I took that morning at a pond a few blocks from where I live.

American Coot wing flappingAmerican Coot wing flapping – Nikon D200, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 320, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

We have tons of American Coots here in the winter until the water freezes solid and then the coots move to find open water. Coots aren’t the most colorful of birds but they are amusing to watch and photograph and they are a challenge because of the high contrasts between the whites and the darks.

Mallard drakeMallard drake – Nikon D200, tripod mounted, f8, 1/500, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

We also have plenty of Mallards too, domestic, wild and hybrids. Behind this drake this there is a  sheet of ice on the pond. By the time I took this image my hands were getting cold even with gloves on and a heat pack tucked into them.

Juvenile Pied-billed Grebe in an icy pondJuvenile Pied-billed Grebe in an icy pond – Nikon D200, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/350, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Pied-billed Grebes are another species that will be on my local pond until it freezes over and they are great fun to photograph because they are feisty little characters. This one was a hatch year bird when I photographed it as it still shows evidence of the striped head that juvenile Pied-billed Grebes have in their first year.

American Coot in pre-attack poseAmerican Coot in pre-attack pose – Nikon D300, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

The coots squabble and fight a lot amongst each other, this coot was getting ready to chase another one across the icy pond.

Common Goldeneye femaleCommon Goldeneye female – Nikon D200, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/400, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

There are times we get other duck species  including Common Goldeneyes but they never seem to stick around long. This female Common Goldeneye was gone the next time I visited the pond a few days later.

Ring-billed Gull on the edge of iceRing-billed Gull on the edge of ice – Nikon D200, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

There are also California and Ring-billed Gulls at my local pond during the winter. This Ring-billed Gull had walked too close to the edge of the thin ice and nearly fell in, it was walking back from where one of its feet cracked through the ice and it was using its wings to regain its balance.

Snow is supposed to arrive this Saturday, I hope it does, it is time for winter!

Mia

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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.

16 Comments

  1. That Ring-billed gull is exhilarating, I just love that wingspread!

  2. Wonderful photos Mia. Looks as if this may be a year without a winter. . .

  3. I really love coot encounters, especially those flamboyant displays, the territorial scuffles. I get a chuckle from that characteristic white patch and their gorgeous lobed toes. In my estimate, coots are under-appreciated as individual entities and photographic subjects. But you certainly did them justice here, Mia.

  4. Mia, wonderful images of birds that I love at a place that I love! the pied-billed grebe is spectacular! I love coots. they are so comical!

  5. Love love your coot shots…I’ve never been where the light was right to get any shots of them, besides, ours are all so freaky you can’t get close enough either so I really enjoyed being able to see the detail of them in your shots. The last shot made me laugh, that gull looks absolutely evil! haha Here’s hoping we get winter SOON!

    • I hope you’ll be ale to get some nice images of Coots Sherry, they are a lot of fun. Yeah, that gull looks ticked off for almost falling into the water and having me document it!

  6. I LOVE the shot of the ring-billed gull!!!

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  9. Cold, brrrrrrrrrrrrrr, I don’t like it, but I do like your lovely birds, especially the juvenile Pied-billed Grebe, fantastic.

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