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

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 2012 Bird of the Month, Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye are common on the Great Salt Lake wetlands during winter. This picture was taken at Kaysville Pond. Kaysville Pond is a great place each winter to see Common Goldeneye, Ring-necked Ducks and one of the few places in Northern Utah to see Hooded Merganser. In this picture you can see Common Goldeneye, Hooded Mergansers and Gadwalls.
Common Goldeneye nest in Canadian forests and winter throughout most of the United States. They are abundant at Farmington Bay.

Male common Goldeneyes have blackish iridescent green heads with a white circular patch between the eye and the base of the bill. The breast, sides, belly and patch across the secondaries and secondary wing coverts are white. The back, rump and upper tail coverts are black and the tail is grayish-brown. The bill is black and the legs and feet are yellowish. 

The common goldeneye, like the Barrow's Goldeneye, is named for its brilliant yellow iris. This picture of a pair of Common Goldeneye and a pair of Barrow's goldeneye was taken on the Jordan River in Salt Lake County. Barrow's Goldeneye are uncommon in Utah and this was a great sighting for me.
Female common goldeneyes have chocolate brown heads, a whitish neckband, and speckled gray back and sides. The upper wings are brownish-black with the middle five secondaries colored white. The bill is blackish, becoming yellow near the tip, and the legs and feet are yellowish.
This side by side picture of a male Barrow's Goldeneye and a Common Goldeneye shows the field marks that help identify them. The male Barrow's Goldeneye has an iridescent purple head with a large white crescent on its face while the Common Goldeneye had an iridescent dark green head with a round white mark. Both are in my opinion some of the most beautiful waterfowl.
Common goldeneyes fly in small compact clusters, with their wings making a distinctive whistle at every wing beat.
Common goldeneyes use brackish estuarine and saltwater bays and deep freshwater habitats in the winter and dive to feed on a wide variety of available animal life. They feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans and aquatic plants, that makes the Great Salt Lake a perfect winter habitat for the Common Goldeneye.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 2012 Bird of the Month, White-faced Ibis

In October from my window at work I watch hundreds of white-faced Ibis flocks pass by flying in formation similar to Canada Geese. White-faced Ibis are abundant around the Great Salt Lake in fact the Great Salt Lake Wetlands are one of the largest breeding areas in North America for White-faced Ibis.

Just what color are White-faced Ibis? It depends on the angle of light you are looking at them. From one angle they look black or dark brown from another angle they are shades of brown purple and green. And why is it called White-faced Ibis. Looking very much like it's eastern cousin the Glossy Ibis which seems a much more fitting name because they are quite glossy. The White-faced Ibis gets its name from the white border around its pink face during the breeding season. The picture above is a good example of both breeding and non breeding markings.

This shot shows the iridescent colors in flight
This picture was taken in late summer, notice the white face is gone. This bird was perched with a group of Black Terns
White-faced Ibis feed in lage flocks in fields, playas and wading in shallow water in marshes. I often see them feeding in fresh plowed field.

White-faced Ibis nest in much of the western United States and winter in Mexico and South America.
White-faced Ibis nest in marshes and are very abundant at Farmington Bay. The latest I have seen White-faced Ibis at Farmington Bay is January, but most have moved on by the end of October.

A beautiful and interesting wading bird the White-faced Ibis is my choice for Bird of the month for October.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Antelope Island, New Life Bird and More

Serendipity, I came to Antelope Island to look for an Oven Bird and White-throated Sparrow that were reported this last week. I did not find those target birds but was thrilled to see my first ever Flammulated Owl thanks to photographer Jack Binch. I had added the Flammulated Owl to my life list a few years ago because on an "Owl Prowl" during the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival a few years ago we did hear one. Now I feel much better about it on my list because now I have actually seen one. Thanks Jack for pointing it out to me. Certainly the highlight of the day.
American Avocets at the Causeway 
Ring-billed Gulls 
Ring-billed Gulls dining at the causeway.
California Gull a Brine Fly feast
Common Raven
Western Meadowlark 
Burrowing Owls
Just before seeing these Burrowing Owls I stopped at the Visitors Center to look for Rock Wrens that are always on the rocks at the rear of the Visitors Center. While changing my lenses I dropped my 300 zoom. It still focuses and take pictures however it will not zoom. so the pictures on this post from here on were taken at 75mm. Guess I better saving my pennies for a new lens. 
Bison were plentiful today
This Coyote was kind enough to pose for me and stay close so I could get several pictures before he had had enough and took off.
I saw several Coyotes today but only this one was close enough to photograph.
Sunflowers and Rabbitbrush were beautiful
Red-tailed Hawk just one of many I saw on the road to the ranch
Another Red-tail
This group of cows and calves took their sweet time crossing the road and I didn't rush them.
I took this though my windshield 
White-crowned Sparrows were abundant over the whole island but I never did see the White-throated Sparrow
Another shot of the Flammulated Owl
Pronghorn Family
Hermit Thrush were everywhere at the Ranch
Pronghorn Doe
Pronghorn and her sister wives
Eared Grebes the one in the center still showing a lot of breeding plumage

Here is a list of birds and more seen today
American Avocet
Black-necked Stilt
California Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Northern Shoveler
Eared Grebe
Brewer's Blackbird
Barn Swallow
Common Raven
Franklin's Gull
Western Meadow Lark
Loggerhead Shrike
Rock Wren
Black-billed Magpie
Burrowing Owl
Red-tailed Hawk
Wilson's Warbler
Cassin's Vireo
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Song Sparrow
Spotted Towhee
Hermit Thrush
Northern Flicker
Oregon Dark-eyed Junco
Empid Flycatchers
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Redstart
Western Sandpipers and other Peeps, I forgot my scope so today they were just peeps
Long-billed Curlew
California Quail
Other animals

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Labor Day at Farmington Bay

American White Pelican and Canada Geese, I was not quite fast enough to catch a shot of the Pelican biting the head of the goose that got just a little to close to the Pelicans little island. 
Pelicans were abundant and active they are great subjects to photograph
Pelicans cooperative feeding on Glover Pond
A view from Goose-egg Island toward the Northwest, there were Snowy Egret, Canada Geese, White-faced Ibis and Blue Heron
Snow Egret with the Heron Rookery in the background. The Power company came out a couple of weeks ago to replace some of the poles of the rookery that were blown over last winter during a wind storm. However they were unable to proceed when they found several not quite ready to fledge baby Barn Owls in the nest box. The Poles will be replaced at a later date.
A view from Goose-egg Island of Northern Harriers hunting, or are they?

Are they hunting, fighting for territory or just playing?
Snowy Egrets are common at Farmington Bay but their numbers seem greater this year than most, and Cattle Egrets I have never seen as many as I have this year.
This is where it all starts here at Farmington Bay, the water is full of life. There are abundant invertebrates, mollusks, frogs and fish in addition to the vegetation. There were many minnows but hard to see them in the picture. 
The big pond on the nature trail. With such a great riparian area at the east end of the pond I have always wondered why the Egrets and Herons don't nest here. After my trip to Greeley Colorado last spring when I saw hundreds of Egrets and Herons nesting in trees at a city park I have wondered why in this what seems to be a perfect spot they don't nest in these trees.
More of the big pond
Viewing Decks on the big pond

This was encouraging, this Great Blue Heron was sitting in the trees at the east end of the pond
A Muskrat in the big pond
These next pictures are of the beautiful late summer flowers on the Nature Trail

Cattails and Showy Goldeneye
Hard-stem Bullrush, Sunflowers and Cattails 
The yellow flowers are Curley-cup Gumweed, I don't know the name of the purple flowers but they are beautiful.
Double-crested Cormorant
This canal runs along the south part of the Nature Trail and has been the source of some great birding over the years.
Great Blue Heron 
It was a beautiful day at Farmington Bay a place I seem to be finding harder and harder to get to.