Sunday, December 27, 2009

Marsh sparrow

This little guy was eating seeds from a thistle covered in hoarfrost at the refuge today!  They do not normally sit still long enough for a picture, but he was more interested in food than in the big truck that pulled up next to him!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2009!  Attended the 7:30pm service last night where Diana was celebrant and preacher.  Sang the old Christmas songs and listened to a wonderful solo of "O Holy Night" by a very talented young singer.  I remember singing that song when I was about 11 or 12, in a church performance, and my voice cracked on the high note!  His didn't crack!

Cold here in Slick City - 14 right now and looks like it will be cold for the next few days.  Not so bad if we can get some sunshine, but the smog and haze will build also.

Diana has a green thumb with orchids and I am constantly trying to capture the beauty of them.  Here's a shot from yesterday with the sun backlighting the beautiful flowers.  Still not completely satisfied that it expresses all the beauty but it is very nice.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monochromatic day!

With the inversion creating fog, yesterday was a monochromatic day.  Murph, Mom and I went out to the refuge with bagels and coffee and saw a couple of harriers and a kestrel hunting.  On the way out we saw a redtail peering at us from the top of a telephone pole.

Lots of hoarfrost - it is very beautiful.  Murph ran around in it and wound up a speckled black and white dog.  Here's some pics from the day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What do I do now?

Murph and I were out at Farmington Bay refuge Sunday, and he met this little guy.  The mouse ran back and forth and then finally into the grasses on the side of the parking lot.  Murph jumped around a lot and tried to smell him, but seemed to be a bit unsure of how to react!  Here's a couple of pics from the fun.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Murph and I came back from visiting a friend and walked into the backyard to see this guy!  I had sent my earlier picture to my contacts at Hawkwatch and asked which one it was - Coopers or Sharpie.  Without seeing the tail, they couldn't tell.
So here's one with the tail, and we'll see what they say!  I understand that the Coopers tail is the same length as the body or longer and the Sharpie's is smaller.  Based on that I think I would vote for this being a Sharpie. Update 12-14 - Identified as a Juvenile Sharpshin!

Cemetery Deer

There is a beautiful, large cemetery by the University of Utah that is filled with trees and landscaped very beautifully.  There is also a herd of black-tailed deer that live there!
The deer roam around the cemetery without anything to fear.  I've seen them wait until the person left, then meander over to the gravesite and eat the fresh flowers!  Plenty of food for them.

Driving through one day, I caught these two regal bucks surveying their domain!

Then there were these two goofy looking youngsters - great shot of the Ute's Rice-Eccles stadium!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hawkwatching and the Goshutes

Last year I spent a couple of days on top of the Goshute mountains with Hawkwatch folks who were counting migrating raptors. Other than the pain that came from climbing up and down the two-mile trail twice (I should have stayed overnight on top of the mountain), it was a wonderful trip. Hawkwatch website
You learn pretty quickly that you really don't know much about identifying birds, especially as they do not wait till you have seen all you want to see, but everyone there was incredibly helpful and by the end of the time there I was doing OK.  The scenery is out of the world, and here's a few pictures to demonstrate that.

This is Lookout #1, and the birds come soaring across the mountain in the distance right towards this point (north to south).  A fake owl on a post occasionally helps to draw the raptors a bit closer to assist in identifying them.
The air is clean and fresh!  Sunrises and sunsets are very exciting!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Early Bird!

The early bird came by this morning, despite a temp of 16.  He sat on the fence post about 7:45am, looking for breakfast.  Seemed a bit early for the little birds to be out, but there he was.  We didn't see him score today, but I know he'll be back.

On a technical note, I was using my 80-400mm lens and ran the ISO up to 1000 to get a decent shutter speed, I thought.  But I only ever got to 1/60 sec which is way too slow for handholding this lens, despite VR.  I got so excited at seeing the hawk that I didn't double-check :-(

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Keeping the camera ready!

When you have a bird feeder in your back yard, keeping your camera ready is a necessity, at least for those of us that are kinda wierd!
This guy/lady showed up in the back yard very quietly as usual.  She sat on this perch for several minutes, really only a few feet away from the 'birdbush' which was filled with sparrows sitting pretty darn quietly!  Then in just a heartbeat, she flew into the bush (a very hard right and backwards) and then came back to sit on the fence with a bird in her claws!  A very quick and unexpected move.  After a couple of moves to settle the food into the correct position, she flew off for her dinner!

As a friend once said, in the outdoors, you are either eating or being eaten!