It comes as no surprise to me that July 2017 has gone down in history as the hottest on record for my area of Utah, the high temps have been awful and they can’t be ignored. I can escape the heat and head up into the mountains where it is cooler and it feels marvelous even if it is just for a few hours. Yesterday morning I saw a low of 48°F up in the Wasatch Mountains and it felt great, that was a 50 degree difference from the high I saw later in the day here in the valley.
I’d hoped to find some juvenile Green-tailed Towhees but instead I found gold. Yellow Warblers.
I have my ears and my eyes to thank for finding the Yellow Warblers and their young foraging near a creek in a canyon. I heard them first and then located them hidden in some shrubby trees where parking and using the vehicle as a mobile blind worked well. All I could do was hope that the warblers would pop into view at some point. Thankfully they did and I was able to take my very first photos of juvenile Yellow Warblers.
The willows and other trees along the creek seemed to be dripping with Yellow Warblers feeding their young, some of the adults were snatching insects in flight high over the trees but most were gleaning insects from the willows, grasses and other shrubs near the banks of the creek. Getting one of these small, constantly moving birds out in the open is a matter of luck and being able to lock onto the bird and take images before it flies away is a challenge.
Juvenile Yellow Warblers have a scruffy appearance when they leave the nest at only eight to ten days old, their plumage is a mix of mouse gray natal down and yellow and losing sight of them inside the protection of the shrubs and trees is easy to do but their soft begging calls can still be heard frequently and that helps to stay aware of where they might be located.
I spent 47 minutes inside the “mobile” blind while the adults searched for food for numerous young and although I took hundreds of photos there are more than a few that will be deleted because of the messy settings, branches, grasses, leaves or flowers in front of the birds or the lighting just wasn’t right but I also will have quite a few that are keepers.
One of the juvenile Yellow Warblers seemed to have gotten wet, I don’t know if it bathed or got wet while chasing after the adult for food but it looked just a touch bedraggled when I photographed it after it had shaken off several times deep in the shrubbery and then moved to a sun lit branch to dry off.
I was delighted to have found “Yellow Gold” yesterday in the mountains and to have enjoyed the clean, cool mountain air.
Life is good.