Some Of The Joys Of Photographing Birds Close To Home

American Coot with a bill full of underwater vegetation, Salt Lake County, UtahAmerican Coot with a bill full of underwater vegetation –  Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Let me start off by saying that yesterday morning I left home before o’dark hundred (5:45 am) and sat on my butt for more than five hours to go up north and look for birds. Had it not been for one cooperative American Goldfinch I would have been completely and utterly skunked because not only were birds hard to find the ones I did find were either too far away or too skittish to take photos of.  It was such a long way to go for virtually nothing more than soaking up the scenery, over 230 miles round trip.

But since the weather has cooled off more birds are showing up at the local ponds and yesterday afternoon I was reminded of how much I enjoy photographing birds close to home.  I spent some time at one of the local ponds yesterday afternoon and came home with photos that made me smile and for a little while I forgot about the long hours I spent getting skunked on the road earlier in the day.

Where I can see American Coots fighting for feeding territories, rest, diving and coming up with bills full of underwater vegetation. I am easily be amused and delighted by these birds and could fill up a quarter of my memory card just photographing them.

California Gull flying in front of the Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake County, UtahCalifornia Gull flying in front of the Wasatch Mountains –  Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

But I would want to leave space on the memory card for the gulls that make an appearance too. I think it was awesome to photograph this California Gull in flight in front of the Wasatch Mountains. That isn’t weird looking sky in the background of this photo, it is the face of the mountains, the rocky ridges that are in the sunlight and the shadows.

Pied-billed Grebes exhibiting Circling behavior, Salt Lake County, UtahPied-billed Grebes exhibiting Circling behavior –  Nikon D500, f9, 1/1000, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

And because I was there at the pond I was able to observe these two Pied-billed Grebes exhibiting a behavior I hadn’t seen before and knew nothing about until I came home and researched it and found out that it is called “Circle Display”. I hope to do a post on this interesting behavior soon but I know I was fascinated by it. I wish I had been videoing it instead of taking still photos because it would have shown the behavior and the movements of the grebes better.

Hen Ring-necked Duck with her bill open wide, Salt Lake County, UtahHen Ring-necked Duck with her bill open wide –  Nikon D500, f9, 1/1600, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This hen Ring-necked Duck drew my attention away from the Pied-billed Grebes momentarily when she floated by and I felt I had to take photos of her, when she was out of my view I turned my attention back to the grebes but they had moved apart. I wish I knew how the grebes ended the Circle Display but I’m not sorry I photographed this pretty little duck.

Trio of Canada Geese lifting of in afternoon light, Salt Lake County, UtahTrio of Canada Geese lifting of in afternoon light –  Nikon D500, f9, 1/1250, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There were plenty of Canada Geese on the pond yesterday too and to my delight some of them took off giving me the opportunity to photograph them as they flew by in lovely afternoon light.  Yes, they are common but I believe they can be uncommonly beautiful too.

I photographed plenty of other birds yesterday afternoon and I am encouraged because some of the ducks I see in winter are now making their appearance there too.

I’m glad I was gently reminded yesterday of the joys I feel while photographing birds close to home after feeling so down from the disappointments I felt from the long trip earlier yesterday morning.

Life is good.



  1. Marty K November 19, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    The Canada Geese are so beautiful with those curved primaries. I’m always fond of Coots as well. I look forward to seeing more of your shots of the Grebes’ circling behavior. The pretty Ring-Necked lady seems to be laughing over an inside joke.

  2. Elephants Child November 19, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Love the final trio in particular.

  3. John Sherrill November 19, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    Wow! Some of your best! John

  4. Jorge H. Oliveira November 19, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    I like to photograph cootes mostly because they are so unpredictable.
    We also have coots here (Portugal) but they are a bit different from yours. The beak is totally white and they don’t have that dark spot on the forehead.
    Thank you for sharing those images.

  5. Pepe Forte November 19, 2018 at 11:30 am

    How cool! Each pic is terrific and worthy of a frame. I especially like the low flying geese; followed closely by the coot. Which reminds me…I gotta start eating more greens. Thanks Mia.

  6. Patty Chadwick November 19, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Nice series! Really love the gull and the Canada Geese….

  7. Ken Schneider November 19, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Enjoyed the delightful grebe interaction and the magnificent image of the geese in flight. I know the feeling– we walk out a half hour before sunrise and sometimes I see no long-legged waders until I look in our back yard lake after getting home, to find 3 or 4 heron species!

  8. humming bird lover November 19, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Hi sweetie! You so lift my spirits when I view your wonderful photo’s! Thanks for sharing them with the world! Love ya’s much! mom

  9. Laura Ganz November 19, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Wonderful photographs!

  10. Liz Cormack November 19, 2018 at 7:29 am

    Wow, what a fantastic series of shots you took. Love them all but especially the photo of the Canada Goose.

  11. Tim Traver November 19, 2018 at 7:13 am

    Love the wing lines on the Canada goose shot!

  12. Tim Derry November 19, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Wow! And you made some outstanding shots.

Comments are closed.