Celebrating Seven Years in Utah – Photographing Birds, Wildlife and Scenery

Greater Sage-Grouse battle at daybreakGreater Sage-Grouse battle at daybreak

Seven years ago I woke up in Grand Island, Nebraska on the third and final day of my journey from Florida to Utah. The scenery there in Nebraska was quite a change from the Gulf Coast of Florida but as I pulled my Jeep and UHaul trailer onto the interstate I knew the scenery was going to change rapidly throughout the day. I’d been on that road before, many times.

I grabbed my coffee, rolled down my window and listened to the pavement under my tires as I headed west by following the rising sun. Just outside of Grand Island a semi truck threw a rock into my windshield and I knew I would see that crack growing throughout the day. But I was off on another adventure, moving to a new location and was excited about all the wonders I would see. I cranked up the stereo and watched for birds, for wildlife and the changing scenery.

I didn’t know for sure if my move was going to work out but I had thrown off the bowlines and had left safe harbor. I had already set my path to Explore. Dream. Discover.

I grew up an Army Brat constantly moving from one state or country to the next always knowing another move could happen without much notice, that was “normal” for me. Maybe that is where I learned that taking a leap into the unknown can be a great thing to do.

Kodachrome Basin State Park Rocks!Kodachrome Basin State Park Rocks!

I knew I would miss Florida. No doubt about that but Utah offered four seasons, no hurricanes, mountains, deserts, canyons, alpine meadows and plenty of birds and wildlife.

In the past seven years I have seen and photographed so many birds I didn’t see in Florida including Greater Sage-Grouse battling on a lek on bitter cold mornings high up on the sagebrush steppe. I’ve also photographed birds I did see in Florida during the winter on their breeding grounds here during the summer.

I’ve immersed myself in the Kodachrome colors of the rocks in southern Utah where the Fremont People lived so long ago and visited places that make me wish I could go back in time and walk with them for a single day. Learn from them.

Bison Bull resting in wildflowersBison Bull resting in wildflowers

I’ve photographed animals in the wild that I could only see in zoos back east including the wild herds of American Bison on Antelope Island and the Pronghorn I’d never been able to get close to in other western locations where I have lived. And I have woken to the sounds of the Coyotes singing before the dawn and watched American Badgers glare at me from their dens.

Morning light on Flaming GorgeMorning light on Flaming Gorge

I have watched as the morning light lit up Flaming Gorge where a solitary fisherman worked the cold waters while Osprey and Bald Eagles flew overhead. I can’t even begin to list all of the wonderful places I have seen in Utah since I first arrived here seven years ago today but you can see many of those places in my Utah galleries.

Male Short-eared Owl on a rusty fence postMale Short-eared Owl on a rusty fence post

I have photographed birds, birds and more birds. In flight, perched, nesting, resting, hunting, eating, pooping, sleeping, raising young, calling, regurgitating, running, swimming, diving and fishing. The list goes on and on. Each day is a new adventure.

My journey in life has taken me to many places and I’m glad that it brought me to Utah where I am enjoying photographing birds, wildlife and scenery. Seven years ago today. Those years have gone by quick!

Life is good.


PS: I made it to Salt Lake City by 6 pm and by then the crack in my windshield had expanded to 3/4 the width of the windshield. My Jeep needed a new windshield any way after all the miles I had put on her.


  1. Larry Muench July 11, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos and your vast knowledge of birds and countless other critters. Glad you made the trip and hope you continue to enjoy it!

  2. Kim July 11, 2016 at 6:40 am

    I love that you have followed your dream. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos! They are stunning!

  3. suzanne Mcdougal July 10, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    I have learned a lot from you. Thank you. I’m better at what I love because you are willing to share.

  4. Mia McPherson July 10, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Thank you all for your comments. They are much appreciated. I have really enjoyed my time exploring Utah’s scenic beauty, the fantastic birds and the great wildlife. There is so much more to see…

  5. Jane Chesebrough July 10, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Congratulations on the choices you have made-keep on trucking and shooting these beautiful images because it is right for you.As well. many of us enjoy the benefits of what you do.Life is good.

  6. Elephant's Child July 10, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    It sounds as if your ‘seven year itch’ has not set in. And how could it. So much to see. So much to marvel at. Thank you for sharing the joy.

  7. Utahbooklover July 10, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Great images Mia. And enjoyed your move to beautiful Utah story—let’s it wild!

  8. Pepe Forte July 10, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    I am always impressed with how well you manage the light in your images. And the detail you capture…just incredible! I think it is safe to say that we all see a whole new world through your eyes. Thanks.

  9. Goddefroy jan July 10, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Nice story Mia -great pictures

  10. Mary McAvoy July 10, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Wonderful writing about an amazing adventure. Thanks for sharing your story and your photos. Here’s to another seven!

  11. April Olson July 10, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Beautiful photos along with a thoughtful well written story. A belated welcome to Utah. Except for the inversions of winter, Utah has incredible beauty.

  12. Ken Krahulec July 10, 2016 at 9:17 am

    As another invasive Utahn (28 years) we welcome you and appreciate your wonderful blog.


  13. Bob mcpherson July 10, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Beautiful images Mia. Love your travel stories. Utah was one of my favorites when I was an Active truck driver.

  14. Carol July 10, 2016 at 8:30 am

    I enjoy all your beautiful photos, your love for the beauty of Utah and enjoyed your “journey” with us this morning.

  15. Patty Chadwick July 10, 2016 at 7:58 am

    In my eyes, Utah is one of the most beautiful states in the union…there are a couple of others I love almost as much, but Utah is way up there….

  16. Gene Norris July 10, 2016 at 7:46 am

    A nice essay, Mia. I suppose you know by now that North Beach was destroyed by storms this winter.

    • Mia McPherson July 10, 2016 at 7:51 am

      Gene, Thank you.

      Yes, I saw several of my friends images of the North Beach after the storms this winter and was heartbroken by all the changes to it. I don’t think I would recognize it at all now.

  17. Ian Holland July 10, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Thanks for sharing! Great photos.

  18. Roger Burnard July 10, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Wow Mia, what a great series of images, and what beautiful memories.
    These photos are so bright, and beautiful. I can see that you love your
    new home, and all of us that follow your adventures, share your excitement,
    and your love of the animals you photograph. I know that we all look
    forward to many more years of seeing wildlife through your camera lens. ;-)))

  19. Patty Chadwick July 10, 2016 at 7:18 am

    I celebrate with you…thanks for starting my morningwith these besutiful images….hard to pick a favorite!

  20. Zinzi July 10, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Beautiful blog and photographs!

  21. shoreacres July 10, 2016 at 7:07 am

    I had my own year in Utah, and so have had a taste of what you show here so beautifully. I read your blog every day, though I seldom comment, but on this day I need to say how much I appreciate your work, and the fact that you share it with us.

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