Highlights from yesterdays trip to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Muskrat in morning lightMuskrat in morning light – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/250, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is always a delight and I never know exactly what I might see when I am there which suits my spontaneous nature perfectly. Some of the highlights yesterday morning included seeing a Muskrat out of the water gathering food in the golden light of dawn. Normally I only get to photograph them in the water so it was wonderful to have this one on the shore.

Double-crested Cormorant drying outDouble-crested Cormorant drying out – Nikon D300, handheld, f8, 1/200, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Double-crested Cormorants in Florida were well adjusted to human traffic and could appear quite tame but here in Utah it seems much harder to approach them so I was pleased when this one allowed me to get outside of the vehicle to take images of it. The cormorant was drying itself after feeding.

Marsh Wren searching for nesting materialMarsh Wren searching for nesting material – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

The Marsh Wrens at the refuge are busy singing, guarding territories and building nests right now and this one appeared to be searching for nesting material while it sang over the distant calls of Franklin’s Gulls, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds along with Western and Clark’s Grebes.

Western Grebe eating a crayfishWestern Grebe eating a crayfish – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/500, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I’m used to seeing Western Grebes dive and come up with fish to eat but when I saw this one surface it had a Crayfish in its bill. Oh how I wish the light had been better but I am happy with this image despite the light. It is the first series I have of this species chowing down on a mud-bug!

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is a great location to see birds, scenery and other wildlife and to feel nature envelop all of your senses. And you just never know what you might see there.



  1. Elephant's Child May 17, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    As always – wow. And also as always – thank you.

  2. Mary McAvoy May 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Mia, wonderful shots! Great detail in the Cormorant. And the Grebe/crayfish photo is fantastic.
    As for the Marsh Wren…in my albeit totally amateur observations of nature (of a small New England pond and recorded over a five year period through photos and words at SilverLining-MaryMcAvoy.com) this posture is what I call the teacup posture. Whenever I saw it, it was a female who was responding to a call from a male – a call that I imagined said something along the lines of (to quote Mrs. Doubtfire), “Effie, brace yourself!” I have a sequence of photos of my favorite bird (the female red-winged blackbird) holding the teacup posture as her mate mated with her. I never posted them as I thought it was too private a moment.
    I also wondered if it were the female’s signal to the male that she was of childbearing age and the nest was nearly ready!
    I call it the teacup posture because these birds in this pose look so pretty and delicate.
    (You’re probably going to tell me it’s a male Marsh Wren and all my assumptions will be dashed!)

    Thanks, as always, for your wonderful photos.


  3. Sarah Mayhew May 17, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Great variety of images. Nice! Looks like a great place to photograph. I am always amazed at the birds that swallow those crayfish whole!! Ouch!

  4. Utahbooklover May 17, 2014 at 8:11 am

    The Bear River refuge is also a favorite of mine (since I live so close). I’m very impressed with the muskrat out of the water and the grebe with the crayfish images, which I’ve never seen in my visits there. Thanks again!

  5. Bob Bushell May 17, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Lovely photography Mia.

  6. Montanagirl May 17, 2014 at 6:32 am

    Great shots, Mia. The Grebe with the Crayfish is fabulous!

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