I felt the need for quiet solitude yesterday so before dawn I was in my Jeep heading to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, I hadn’t been there since June 25th because of the lack of water due to planned maintenance on the dike system. It was quiet, I didn’t see many people but it was also somewhat depressing because of the lack of water and because I saw far fewer birds than we normally have at the refuge during this time of the year. I took some videos of the refuge and when I have time to edit those I want to do a post about what happens to the refuge without the water that is usually there.
That isn’t to say there aren’t any birds at the refuge, there are, but they are being seen in far fewer numbers.
Landing Greater Yellowlegs – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I was able to photograph several Greater Yellowlegs, some from a distance and some that were closer to the road of the auto tour route, this one yellowlegs in particular came the closest to me but I had a hard time following it because there was an American Avocet that was chasing it relentlessly, I don’t know why the avocet was so determined to chase this yellowlegs off. I missed some shots of the avocet & yellowlegs interacting together because the birds were actually too close to me.
I liked this photo of the Greater Yellowlegs landing after being chased by the avocet because of the raised wings, eye contact, raised foot, splashing water and the reflections on the water.
Note: Because of the lack of barring on the flanks of this bird and the crisply marked plumage I suspect that this is a yellowlegs that hatched this year. Greater Yellowlegs do not breed in Utah.
Greater Yellowlegs lifting off – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
Because of the avocet’s determination to chase off this Greater Yellowlegs I was able to photograph it lifting off from the water with water still dripping from its feet and with the shorebird’s head framed by its wings.
I guess I should have thanked the avocet.
I’m glad I went to the refuge yesterday because I wanted the peace and quiet but it also gave me a view of what this refuge would look like without the life sustaining water flowing into it. With climate change, less snowfall in the high country, exploding population growth and people wanting to dam more of the water of the Bear River this might be a preview of what happens to the refuge in the future and that would be horrible for the birds that call this refuge home or migrate through here.