Towhees, Warblers, Kinglets, Gnatcatchers – Oh My!

Yellow-rumped Warbler perched on wild sunflowersYellow-rumped Warbler perched on wild sunflowers – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The cooler weather brought about a change in birds on Antelope Island State Park and at Farmington Bay WMA and yesterday I felt like I had fallen into a pot of glorious things with wings instead of a pot of gold.

On Antelope Island State Park it was pretty quiet until I spotted the first Yellow-rumped Warbler flitting between wild sunflowers and blooming rabbitbrush and then things got hopping, or flying as the case may be. Yellow-rumped Warblers gleaning for insects seemed to be every where I looked.

Yellow-rumped Warbler perched on blooming RabbitbrushYellow-rumped Warbler perched on blooming Rabbitbrush – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

And as the Yellow-rumped Warblers popped up close to me I tried my best to capture their subtle beauty. Sometimes they were too close and I couldn’t focus on them and other times it seemed like they were the perfect distance away to allow me to take frame filling photos of these hyperactive warblers perched on beautiful wildflowers.

I also saw White-crowned, Lincoln’s and Chipping Sparrows while I was photographing the warblers. Most were too far away for quality images though.

Autumn Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on Antelope IslandAutumn Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on Antelope Island – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

And then from a distance I saw a tiny gray bird and knew it was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher who was also gleaning for insects and to my surprise it flew in close enough to photograph it perched next to a fallen sunflower. The gnatcatcher has a shadow on its tail but I don’t care at all. The gnatcatcher gave me such a delightful pose and look at its shape, form and soft looking blue-gray plumage.

A bison, mule deer or pronghorn may have clipped the sunflower bloom from the stalk, I don’t know for sure.

Male Spotted Towhee perched in GreasewoodMale Spotted Towhee perched in Greasewood – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I was photographing a Loggerhead Shrike when I caught movement in the Greasewood the shrike was perched on and a handsome male Spotted Towhee popped into view. Towhees are such skulkers that I am always happy when they pop up into clear view. I wish he had been a little closer but I was grateful he showed up at all.

Yellow-rumped Warbler perched on Moth MulleinYellow-rumped Warbler perched on Moth Mullein – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

And while I was photographing the towhee and the shrike a “bouquet” of Yellow-rumped Warblers flew in and spent time gleaning insects from Moth Mullein stalks so close that at times I couldn’t focus on them at all and just enjoyed viewing them with my eyes instead of the camera.

I was happy to have seen so much bird activity on the island because it had been so slow out there for some time.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet in CattailsRuby-crowned Kinglet in Cattails – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I wanted to check out Farmington Bay WMA and see if the bird activity there was hopping too and it was. Harriers and hawks were flying, a solitary Osprey wheeled in the sky, a kingfisher perched on a goose nesting box, a Green-tailed Towhee popped up on top of a saltbush, pipits called, wrens chattered, terns and gulls dove into the water for fish while some grebes paddled around with their heads tucked under their feathers. It seemed like the cooler weather brought birds into the WMA much like it seemed to have done out on the island.

Then my eyes catch a small warbler fluttering next to some vegetation and I was able to take a few images of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet perched out in the open on a cattail.  It is hard to dance while photographing from inside a vehicle but believe me I was dancing in my seat. The “ruby” crown these birds are named for is rarely visible on these tiny birds and although I would have liked to have photographed that it just wasn’t to be.

Male Common Yellowthroat in CattailsMale Common Yellowthroat in Cattails – Nikon D500, f8, 1/640, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Then I spotted a flash of yellow in the cattails and quickly aimed my lens in that direction and saw a male Common Yellowthroat pop into view just as my focus snapped onto the little guy and I took two images of it before it disappeared into the vegetation.

It has been a long time since I have had such a birdy day and the towhees, warblers, kinglets, gnatcatchers and the rest of the birds that I saw thrilled me all morning long. And I didn’t even mention all of the birds I saw!

Life is good.



  1. Utahbooklover September 26, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    Thanks for all the wonderful images – a nice variety. Looks like I’ve seen the last of my backyard hummingbirds a few days ago.

  2. April Olson September 26, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Beautiful photos, so happy for you!

  3. Denise September 26, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    You made my day with these wonderful photos; I can only imagine how it was seeing such beauty in one day!

  4. Elephants Child September 26, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    What a wonderful, wonderful day.

  5. Laura Culley September 26, 2017 at 11:40 am

    WOW!!! What a gift! Thank you SO much for sharing. What little jewels! Oh MY!

  6. Pepe Forte September 26, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Mia, every single one of these pics is wonderful. I love your compositions and the color and detail speak for themselves. Wow! Thanks.

  7. Patty Chadwick September 26, 2017 at 9:07 am

    A BIRD BONANZA!!! Each one cuter thsn the last!!! You sure hit the jackpot….wonderful!!!

  8. Larrry Muench September 26, 2017 at 9:05 am

    What an amazing day! Great photos of some birds that are very difficult to photograph. Such a wonderful variety.

  9. Liz Cormack September 26, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Fantastic photos. Lucky you.

  10. Kim September 26, 2017 at 6:32 am

    These are gorgeous!

  11. LSClemens September 26, 2017 at 5:31 am

    What a fun Fall day of birding! Love all 7 shots.

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