Yellow-rumped Warbler perched on wild sunflowers – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
The cooler weather brought about a change in birds on Antelope Island State Park and at Farmington Bay WMA and yesterday I felt like I had fallen into a pot of glorious things with wings instead of a pot of gold.
On Antelope Island State Park it was pretty quiet until I spotted the first Yellow-rumped Warbler flitting between wild sunflowers and blooming rabbitbrush and then things got hopping, or flying as the case may be. Yellow-rumped Warblers gleaning for insects seemed to be every where I looked.
Yellow-rumped Warbler perched on blooming Rabbitbrush – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
And as the Yellow-rumped Warblers popped up close to me I tried my best to capture their subtle beauty. Sometimes they were too close and I couldn’t focus on them and other times it seemed like they were the perfect distance away to allow me to take frame filling photos of these hyperactive warblers perched on beautiful wildflowers.
I also saw White-crowned, Lincoln’s and Chipping Sparrows while I was photographing the warblers. Most were too far away for quality images though.
Autumn Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on Antelope Island – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
And then from a distance I saw a tiny gray bird and knew it was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher who was also gleaning for insects and to my surprise it flew in close enough to photograph it perched next to a fallen sunflower. The gnatcatcher has a shadow on its tail but I don’t care at all. The gnatcatcher gave me such a delightful pose and look at its shape, form and soft looking blue-gray plumage.
A bison, mule deer or pronghorn may have clipped the sunflower bloom from the stalk, I don’t know for sure.
Male Spotted Towhee perched in Greasewood – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I was photographing a Loggerhead Shrike when I caught movement in the Greasewood the shrike was perched on and a handsome male Spotted Towhee popped into view. Towhees are such skulkers that I am always happy when they pop up into clear view. I wish he had been a little closer but I was grateful he showed up at all.
Yellow-rumped Warbler perched on Moth Mullein – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
And while I was photographing the towhee and the shrike a “bouquet” of Yellow-rumped Warblers flew in and spent time gleaning insects from Moth Mullein stalks so close that at times I couldn’t focus on them at all and just enjoyed viewing them with my eyes instead of the camera.
I was happy to have seen so much bird activity on the island because it had been so slow out there for some time.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet in Cattails – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I wanted to check out Farmington Bay WMA and see if the bird activity there was hopping too and it was. Harriers and hawks were flying, a solitary Osprey wheeled in the sky, a kingfisher perched on a goose nesting box, a Green-tailed Towhee popped up on top of a saltbush, pipits called, wrens chattered, terns and gulls dove into the water for fish while some grebes paddled around with their heads tucked under their feathers. It seemed like the cooler weather brought birds into the WMA much like it seemed to have done out on the island.
Then my eyes catch a small warbler fluttering next to some vegetation and I was able to take a few images of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet perched out in the open on a cattail. It is hard to dance while photographing from inside a vehicle but believe me I was dancing in my seat. The “ruby” crown these birds are named for is rarely visible on these tiny birds and although I would have liked to have photographed that it just wasn’t to be.
Male Common Yellowthroat in Cattails – Nikon D500, f8, 1/640, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
Then I spotted a flash of yellow in the cattails and quickly aimed my lens in that direction and saw a male Common Yellowthroat pop into view just as my focus snapped onto the little guy and I took two images of it before it disappeared into the vegetation.
It has been a long time since I have had such a birdy day and the towhees, warblers, kinglets, gnatcatchers and the rest of the birds that I saw thrilled me all morning long. And I didn’t even mention all of the birds I saw!
Life is good.