American Tree Sparrow – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or called in
Last month I was able to take images of American Tree Sparrows on two different days in very different conditions in about the same location on Antelope Island State Park. The first day the conditions were deplorable because I had low light, blowing snow and foggy conditions but the second time I had them in my viewfinder I had very nice light, in fact the Tree Sparrows and dried vegetation seemed to glow against the white of the snow and I was able to get a series of images that I found appealing.
American Tree Sparrows winter in Utah but they breed in scrubby thickets in willows and birch in Alaska and northern Canada. Sometimes they are mistaken for the smaller Chipping Sparrow but their slightly larger size, bicolored bill, rusty eye-line and dark central spot on the breast helps to differentiate between the two species.
Scratching Snowy Egret – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/250, ISO 400, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 200mm
I love winter, I love seeing snow on the mountains and feeling the crispness in the air but I am getting tired of gray cloudy days and heavy fog so I thought I would post a few images from warmer and sunnier days that I took while I lived in Florida.
It wasn’t exactly sunny when I photographed the Snowy Egret scratching its neck above but it certainly was warmer.
White Ibis feeding in the Gulf of Mexico Nikon D200, handheld, f8, 1/800, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 300mm, natural light
It was quite warm when I photographed this adult White Ibis as it hunted and fed in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico on a sunny August day in 2008. Temps were probably in the high 90′s with humidity levels of about the same.
Brown Pelican in flight – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 200, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light
I took the Brown Pelican in flight image not long after I had gotten my Nikon D200 and I was learning about the camera. Unfortunately I clipped just the top of the pelican’s wingtip at the top of the frame so when I cropped the image I removed just the wingtips at the lower edge of the frame to balance out the composition. I’m still not sure I like that but I do love the direct eye contact I got from the pelican and the fluffy clouds in the background.
Black Skimmer on a hazy day Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/750, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light
It was a hazy day when I photographed this Black Skimmer adult in breeding plumage, the wind was blowing and the temps were fairly high. I remember the warmth and texture of the sugar sand I was laying on and being grateful for the wind to help cool me off while I took images of this Skimmer calling.
I’m not exactly wishing winter would go away because winter here in Utah will last a bit longer but when I edit images from warmer days I realize it won’t be long until spring has sprung.
Chukar walking on fresh snow – Nikon D300, f9, 1/1000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 321mm, natural light
Fresh snow fell on Antelope Island last night and it made for wonderful settings for the subjects I photographed this morning like this Chukar. I haven’t been seeing the Chukars regularly lately so I was very pleased to see them again. I noticed last year around this time that they were difficult to find too.
Chukar in the snow – Nikon D300, f9, 1/800, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light
I love to photograph my subjects in all kinds of settings and light so fresh snow was a given, I had to get photos of the Chukars as they pushed their bills into the snow to find food. To me Chukars always look kind of rotund and I think that being in the snow makes that even more obvious.
Bad Seed? Chukar up chukin’ – Nikon D300, f9, 1/800, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm with 1.4x TC 357mm, natural light
Sorry for the bad pun but it did look like this Chukar was up chukin’. It is really just eating and I caught the bill open and showing the bird’s tongue, you can see the food the bird was eating under the upper mandible.
I was going to post these tomorrow but couldn’t wait. I may have patience when it comes to bird photography but I lack some when it comes to sharing my images here.
More Chukar images
Bison bull feeding with the Great Salt Lake in the background – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 271mm, natural light
I photographed this Bison bull feeding peacefully yesterday out on Antelope Island State Park with the Great Salt Lake in the background.
I mentioned “peacefully” because later in the day I watched as a man; in red pants, bothered a Bison bull by getting too close to it and then saw the Bison bull charge him and stop just short of trampling the man. The man didn’t have a car, he was riding a bicycle so he had no protection from the Bison at all. Unbelievably after the man ran away from the charging bull and the Bison settling down.. the guy approached him again.
Not smart, not smart at all. Those Bison may look tame while they are grazing but they are 1500 pounds of wild and very unpredictable animals. With sharp hooves.
More Bison images
Black-necked Stilt male – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
Black-necked Stilts (Himantopus mexicanus) have returned from their wintering grounds to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and other locations in Utah. Black-necked Stilts are black and white shorebirds with long pink to reddish legs, thin black bills and lovely red eyes.
I photographed this male Stilt as he fed in front of me on April 16th in a marshy area on the auto tour route. Note the glossy black back with a slight iridescence.
Black-necked Stilt female – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 314mm, natural light
Female Black-necked Stilts have browner backs than the males as shown in the image above.
Black-necked Stilts can live up to 19 years, their diet consists of small fish, frogs, clams, worms, flies, shrimp, tadpoles and snails. They breed around marshes, shallow ponds, lakes and manmade water areas. Black-necked Stilts are social birds and they are often seen in flocks of 25 or more.
Currently their status us secure but increased use of pesticides and loss of wetlands could cause this species to decline.