All Photos posted on this blog unless otherwise noted were taken by me with my Canon Rebel XTI using a 300 mm zoom lens

Sunday, October 30, 2011

November 2011 Bird of the Month Hermit Thrush

This picture was taken in October of 2010

The Hermit Thrush is a fairly plain looking bird, shades of gray and brown, spotted breast and a rufous tail that it often wags or flicks up and down. Like it's distant cousin the American Robin I find this member of the Thrush family quite photogenic.

My first sighting of a Hermit Thrush many years ago was at the spring at fielding Garr Ranch on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. I usually will see Hermit thrush every time I visit there. They are late migrators and I often see them into December.

Hermit Thrush stay low in thickets flitting about I rarely see them higher in the trees than eye level. They often forage on the ground. This bird is showing its rufous tail.
Hermit Thrush seem to be as interested in me as I am them. I have found them one of the easiest birds to photograph. This picture was taken October of 2011
I often see Hermit Thrush in my yard during migration, I am always exited to have them visit.
I added this back shot to so how it looks from behind, although the lighting doesn't show the rufous in its tail very well
One of my favorite birds the Hermit Thrush is my pick for November Bird of the Month

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another Antelope Island Adventure

My Brother in Law Frank Clawson and I got out to Antelope Island for a wonderful day of viewing nature. We both added a new life bird to our life lists and had a great time watching all Antelope Island has to offer.
Eared Grebe Left and Horned Grebe on the right
Every year during migration we seem to get an invasion of rare or uncommon birds along the Causeway at Antelope Island. a couple of years ago we had a good number of Bonapart's Gulls and Sabines Gulls, we often get quite a few Whimbrel, a couple of years ago we had nearly a dozen Long-tailed Ducks, Surf Scoters and White-winged Scoters. We occasionally see Horned Grebes but this year seems to be the  invasion of Horned Grebes.
Horned Grebe
Harlequin Duck one female is not exactly and invasion but a very rare and exciting bird for the Great Salt Lake
Here is a vary rare find at the Great Salt Lake a female Harlequin Duck
This little girl has created quite a stir and has been the main attraction on the Causeway for about 2 weeks now. I finally got out today to see her and add the Harlequin duck to my Life List
This Female Brewer's Blackbird was very tame
I noticed while processing these pictures that it looks like she has an abbess on her left leg, I hope she'll be ok
Monarch Butterfly
This Monarch Butterfly looks pretty haggard but still beautiful
Painted Lady Butterfly
Western Meadow Larks were everywhere and quite active today
Sage Thrasher
Sage Thrasher
Loggerhead Shrike
These White Pelicans were putting on quite a show, they got up off the Great Salt lake and circled caught the thermals.
A view of the Wasatch Mountains from Antelope Island. Up until a week ago we were enjoying tempratures in the mid 80s Last week storms came in and now the the mountains are snow capped.
A shot of the Causeway 
Not a bird but a rare and beautiful migrant passing through from Wisconsin. The Great Salt Lake attracts all kinds on migrants
There were four Coyotes down on the shore and wading in the shallows probably looking for sick waterfowl and wading birds.

There were a lot of Bison grazing right on the edge of the road and seemed to pay no attention to the passing cars

Here are some of the birds we saw at the Ranch
Great Horned Owl 
The Northern Flickers were very active and vocal This female stopped long enough to get her picture taken
the area around the spring was alive with Hermit Thrush this one and the one in the next picture seemed as interested in me as I was in them.

Other birds seen
Ruddy Duck
Northern Shoveler
Western Grebe
California Gull
Ring-billed Gull
American Avocet
Black-necked Stilt
Northern Harrier
Common Raven
Black-billed Magpie
White-crowned Sparrow
American Goldfinch
American Coot
Barn Swallow
Cliff Sallow
Tree Swallow
Brown-headed Cowbird
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Wilson's Warbler
California Quail
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Dark-eyed Junco Oregon race 1st of the season
Heard but not seen
Ring-necked Pheasant
Cedar Waxwing

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October 2011 Bird of the Month Horned Lark

I still remember the first time I saw Horned Larks in December of 2001, my son Spencer and I had traveled to the town of Mantua located in Sardine Canyon east of Brigham City Utah to see a group of Common Redpoll that had been sighted there. After seeing the Redpolls we traveled west to Bear River Bird Refuge, these little beauties were running and flitting ahead of us along the road escorting us through the auto tour loop. That was before I had my camera many years later I went again out to Bear River and got  some long awaited pictures of  the handsome Horned Lark.

The Horned Lark breeds across much of North America, and is found year round in the Great Salt Lake Wetlands. Also known as the Shore Lark is found through much of Europe and Asia. 
This little guy was on the road to the Ranch at Antelope Island last spring
Unlike other Larks this is a distinctive-looking species on the ground, mainly brown-grey above and pale below, with a striking black and yellow face pattern. The summer male has black "horns", which give this species its American name.

If you're not looking for them they might go unnoticed because they blend in quite well to their environment.
This is a bird of open ground in the US, In Eurasia it breeds above the tree line in mountains and the far north. In most of Europe, it is most often seen on seashore flats in winter, leading to the European name. In the UK it can be found as a winter stopover along the coasts and in eastern England although a mated pair have been recently spotted in Windmill End nature reserve in the West Midlands. In America, where there are no other larks to compete with, it's also found on farmland, on prairies, in deserts, on golf courses and airports, and the like.