Greater Yellowlegs Landing & Lifting Off At Bear River MBR

/, Birds, Box Elder County, Greater Yellowlegs, Utah/Greater Yellowlegs Landing & Lifting Off At Bear River MBR

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, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Box Elder County, UtahLanding 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, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Box Elder County, UtahGreater 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.



  1. Pepe Forte August 27, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Beautiful bird. I love how you captured the movement; especially the liftoff and trail of water from the Yellowleg’s feet. Thanks Mia.

  2. Greg Gillson August 21, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    Love both action shots!

  3. Sybill Reed August 20, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    Hi sweetie! Great photo’s wished I was with you when you took these and the peaceful surroundings! Maybe next year?beautiful birds! love ya

  4. Trudy Brooks August 20, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Gosh, thanks for the photo. I have never heard of this bird before. I can see why they are called Yellowlegs. I live in Wyoming.

  5. Elephants Child August 20, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Both at the lack of water, and at the human influence.
    And gratitude for your photos of the incredible beauty at risk.

  6. Bob mcpherson August 20, 2018 at 7:27 am

    Beautiful. Photos, Mia

  7. Liz Cormack August 20, 2018 at 7:01 am

    Great photos. I don’t think that the Powers-That-Be think of birds or wildlife in general when they make decisions regarding damming or maintenance on rivers & streams. Their comments seem to centre around “they will find another place”. Not necessarily.

  8. Joan Carey August 20, 2018 at 6:08 am

    Both great photos but I love the first, soft curves and sharp angles. Beautiful!

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