Chukar on Antelope Island
It was a busy week and I did take tons of images from Antelope Island, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Box Elder County and yesterday in Tooele County. On Antelope Island the Chukars were up calling on the rocks or foraging in the grasses near Sagebrush. This one perched on a rock that had water in the background that was a brilliant blue.
After some much needed rain there were a few puddles in areas of the island and this California Gull was taking full advantage of having fresh water available for a bath. In my opinion that is a pretty handsome looking bird with its head held tall and its wings spread.
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge was hopping with activity, the male Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds seemed to be calling all over the auto tour route. The wind was blowing while this male was perched on the Phragmites stalk, it was like trying to photograph a bird on a long, thin spring the way it bounced around in the wind. I dumped quite a few images into my delete bin because of that wind & less than sharp images.
Clark’s Grebes were also a highlight, who couldn’t appreciate these striking Grebes with their black and white plumage, cherry red eyes, sharp bill, curvy neck and black cap? I sure enjoy watching and photographing them especially during this time of the year when they are defending their territories. One never knows when the action might start!
I was tickled to see both Western and Eastern Kingbirds at the refuge, their chattering makes me want to giggle. I couldn’t tell what this Eastern Kingbird was chattering at, maybe there was another bird outside of my field of view. At any rate, I think that both kingbird species are dapper looking birds.
Forster’s Terns were making their presence on the refuge known as they cruised over the fresh water impoundment in search of prey and making spectacular dives when they located it. With a black cap and black eyes it can be a challenge to get a catch light in their eyes and in this frame I was delighted to have such great light.
Tooele County offered fine feathered friends too, like this handsome Lark Sparrow perched on rusty old barbed wire. Normally I prefer natural perches but there is something about rusty barbed wire that appeals to me.
It seem to me that the Mourning Dove population has blossomed this spring, I am seeing them in high numbers in places I normally don’t see many. This dove was perching along side a road on a well weathered fence post in the early morning light.
These are but a few of the birds I photographed this week in various Utah locations and all of them made great subjects!
Grebe chicks are showing up all over at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (aka Bear River National Wildlife Refuge) in northern Utah and they are just adorable to see and photograph.
Western Grebe Family – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
I have been seeing Clark’s, Pied-billed and Western Grebes with chicks but I haven’t gotten any close images of the Pied-billed Grebes with their young so I am focusing on Western and Clark’s Grebe images for this post.
Young Western and Clark’s Grebes hitch rides on their parents backs, the image above shows a Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) with three chicks of different sizes. The eggs of Western and Clark’s Grebes do not hatch all at the same time so there are often several days between the oldest and youngest chicks. The chick at the tail end of the adult was larger than the other two birds.
Clark’s Grebe with a chick – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
There is only one chick visible on this adult Clark’s Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) back but there could be more underneath the wings. When the grebe chicks are very young it can be difficult to see them because they hide under the feathers, sometimes the only way to know there are tiny young birds on the back of the adults is that the wings feathers are usually raised higher than they normally would be.
I’ll be doing more posts soon on Western and Clark’s Grebes.
* I am out of town so I scheduled this post ahead of time, please feel free to share.
It won’t be long before the high, scratchy kweea kweea calls of Clark’s Grebes (Aechmophorus clarkii) are heard in Utah’s Bear River National Wildlife Refuge if they haven’t already arrived. I haven’t been to Bear River NWR in a while. (I checked on the Bear River NWR site and at least 18 Western Grebes and 16 Clark’s Grebes have been seen there recently)
Clark’s Grebe at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
I think that Clark’s Grebes are striking birds with their long graceful necks, black crowns, sharp bright yellow to orange-yellow bills, lovely white, gray and black plumage and those brilliant cherry-red eyes. Clark’s Grebes nest at Bear River NWR, they build floating nests with emergent vegetation. The young are able to swim not long after hatching and like other grebe young they do ride on the adult’s backs.
Clark’s Grebes are rarely seen in flight because they dive and swim to get away from predators and they only migrate at night. I’d still love to see one in flight and capture their mating display called “rushing”.
More Clark’s Grebe images
Stretching adult Clark’s Grebe (Aechmorphus clarkii)
Salt Lake County, Utah
Nikon D200, f8, 1/2000, ISO 400, -0.7 EV, 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
This spring and summer I’ve a little been disappointed by how few Clark’s Grebe images I have been able to take. One of the places I know about where I know I can find them rushing (looks like a water ballet), nesting, feeding their chicks and watching the juveniles ride on the adult’s back has been closed twice for weeks at a time. Once was due to roads flooding in the spring and now it is closed to finalize some road construction.
Clark’s Grebe (Aechmorphus clarkii) with midges floating on the water
Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Box Elder County, Utah
Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 400, -1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
I was able to take some picture of Clark’s Grebes this spring and summer but what I really missed was watching them interact with each other and with the Western Grebes I can usually find in the same location. I hope that there are still some around by the time those roads open up in September!
More Clark’s Grebe images
Clark’s Grebe (Aechmorphus clarkii) adult
Salt Lake County, Utah
Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 400, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400, natural light
I’ve written before about my addiction to bird photography and today I am beginning to have serious withdrawls. For days it has been raining (sometimes hailing), cloudy and a miserable gray here in the Salt Lake Valley though it seems like two weeks to this bird photographer. It has only been four days since I was out to photograph birds.
Oh sure, there have been sucker holes where the blue sky and fluffy white clouds can be seen. For about 10 minutes. When the sucker holes happen I’m tempted to hop into my Jeep and head anywhere there are birds even if it means I only get to shoot 5 minutes before the rain starts again. That probably sounds very odd to a non-bird photographer. But it is what it is.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) adult in defensive posture
Jordan River Trail, Salt Lake County, Utah
Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
The withdrawl symptoms are setting in, my shutter button finger is twitching, when I see a bird outside the window my pulse races, I keep looking longingly at my camera mounted on the tripod in the corner of the living room wondering how long it will be before a fine coating of dust settles on it for lack of use.
I’ve been working my tail feathers off trying to keep my mind occupied. It isn’t helping. I’ve also been reading a book but the author keeps mentioning birds in the story and I can’t seem to focus (sorry for the pun). Sure, the rotten weather is giving me time at my desk to edit and cull the images I have already taken though that just seems make this withdrawl affect me more.
Adult Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) in flight
Salt Lake County, Utah
Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
I looked at the 10 day weather forecast earlier and saw that this gloomy weather may last until Thursday of next week. That is awful!
Yes, I am addicted to bird photography.