water birds

I mentioned in an earlier post how my little one and I went fishing at Scofield Reservoir, about 100 miles south and east of Salt Lake City…and how we didn’t come home with any fish.  We did come home with some photos of birds that we had never seen, though.  Below is a Western Grebe, not to be confused with a Craig’s Grebe.  The most significant difference, to my novice birder’s eye, is that the black hood goes below the eyes on the Western Grebe and remains above the eyes on the Craig’s Grebe.

Western Grebe at Scofield Reservoir Utah

The next two photos are of Sandhill Cranes….  It was unusual to see such large birds walking near a lake/reservoir way up in the Mountain West area of Utah.  I have read that our region is along the migratory routes of many types of birds, but just hadn’t seen much of anything that fit the definition of such birds yet.

Sandhill Cranes and young near Scofield Reservoir Utah

One of the sources that helped me identify the birds showed photos of large gray birds with the red forehead, so I thought I was wrong about their name, but then they also showed other photos similar to these guys, indicating that the migratory cranes are usually scruffier and brown, while still keeping their red forehead.

Sandhill Cranes near Scofield Reservoir Utah

And lastly, here’s an American White Pelican…way the hell out in the mountains and hundreds of miles away from any ocean.  The link states that they breed on lakes throughout the northern Great Plains and in the mountain west, but winter along the coast.  I guess they can pretty much go wherever they want to.  I thought it was nice to find them where we did.  There appeared to be a huge flock of the large birds waaaay off in the distance, but this one was the closest I could capture for a clear photo.

Pelican at Scofield Reservoir Utah

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28 responses

  1. Oh what fun! I’ve always wanted to catch a sandhill crane. Don’t know that they come out our way, or not. Also haven’t seen a white pelican. I think they’re much prettier than our brown ones. What great fun you’re having exploring with the little one.

    August 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    • Yes, it was fun…and has been fun, exploring with my little one. He’s the one who actually spotted the cranes while I was making photos of the purple bee flowers that I shared a while back. I am coming to appreciate his younger eyes out there. 😉 And yes, the pelican was a bit of a surprise, too, as I mentioned…quite unexpected out here in the mountains. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, Gunta. 🙂

      August 24, 2013 at 2:59 pm

  2. Oh, fantastic! The grebe is lovely – aren’t they pretty on the water with those sharp bills, long necks, and the body so low? I’m crazy for Sandhill Cranes, but have only seen them once, in Florida. You’re right, these guys are not gray at all -very confusing! I like the way the cranes’ feathering echoes those waving grasses. I guess it’s late enough in August so that a lot of birds are starting to move…so you had a treat! Yes, crazy to see a Pelican inland – apparently they breed inland, some quite far to the north, then it’s off to coastal and more southern areas for the winter.

    August 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    • The grebe was waaaay out on the water, very far from shore…and it looked a bit like a cobra sticking its head up like that. As I mentioned in the comment above, my little one spotted the cranes while I was busy making other photos…I think their migratory-brown aided them somewhat…eluding me and my camera by simply being out there in the grass. 🙂

      August 24, 2013 at 3:02 pm

  3. Nicely done, Scott. White pelicans are pretty common up and down the Mississippi River, for what it’s worth.

    August 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    • Thank you, Kerry…. It’s been a long time since I was anywhere near the Mississippi, but I don’t know that I would have thought it was strange seeing them up and down the river, as it connects to the ocean and isn’t just up in the middle of the mountains all by itself. White pelicans up and down the Mississippi and brown ones out on the west coast….interesting….

      August 24, 2013 at 3:07 pm

  4. Heartafire

    These are so cool! We have so many sand hill cranes here in Florida, they often come up 3 or 4 at a time and look right in the window. It’s very funny!

    August 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    • That would be rather funny, having them come up to the window. I would imagine that you’re near the water then?

      August 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      • Heartafire

        Yes, I am on the water. They are very funny and curious…I must get a snapshot of them checking us out!

        August 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm

        • I’ll look forward to it. 🙂

          September 2, 2013 at 8:30 am

  5. so graceful. how lovely to get a chance to spend some time with these birds.

    August 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    • It was very special, Karen…there’s still so much to see here.

      August 24, 2013 at 3:09 pm

  6. Nice shots! I can see how it would seem really odd seeing a pelican in a mountain lake.

    August 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    • Thanks, Allen…and I guess it’s not really so strange, after-all, just new to me out here.

      August 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm

  7. victoriaaphotographyictoria

    I love observing and capturing birds in a photo, but have found my Bird Guide Book confusing at times. Often the female or the juvenile looks completely different to the adult male.

    (then there are the hybrids…….).

    (then there are the birds that look a completely different colour in the bright sun, as opposed to their colour in deep shade………).

    August 20, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    • I enjoy finding them out there, too, Victoria….but then I enjoy coming across deer and moose and porcupines, too, out on the trails. 🙂

      August 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm

  8. Wonderful finds and great shots! I prefer birds over fish anyway!

    August 20, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    • Thank you, Susan…I suppose that could depend on how one cooks them. 😉

      August 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm

  9. It’s lovely to watch the birds coasting on placid waters.

    August 21, 2013 at 1:49 am

    • It is, Shimon…that grebe was rather captivating, all by itself. I was trying to figure out what it was out there.

      August 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm

  10. I am delighted to see the birds! I had begun to think there were none. Seagulls in Salt Lake City, of course. I remember.

    August 21, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    • Yes, we do remember the seagulls, don’t we? That was the beginning of our friendship here on the blog…how very nice. 🙂 I’m pretty sure I’ve shared some photos of the Canada geese…and maybe even a few of the Mallard ducks, but it seems that the rest of them are too quick for my camera finger to catch any good shots of them….Blue Jays and sundry wood-peckers and an occasional bright yellow thing with a bit of red around his neck…. Maybe I’ll get better at capturing the rest of the feathered folks out here when I upgrade the camera someday.

      August 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm

  11. Well fishing isn’t really about the fish is it Scott? Just being out there on the water enjoying nature, far away from the hustle and bustle.. well, it’s just wonderful and it’s the reason I go although, I have had a few mackerel lately and there’s nothing like them, just grilled with a bit of lemon juice and black pepper on the beach You certainly can’t get fresher. I hope you catch some fish on your next trip but these photographs really do count as some consolation. 😉

    August 22, 2013 at 8:57 am

    • No, Adrian…I’m learning that fishing really isn’t about the fish…it’s about being out there on or near the water, far away from the rest of the world. I’ll trust your tasty memories for now and hope for some of my own soon…and yes, I am enjoying the consolation of the photos that I’ve made out there. 🙂

      August 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm

  12. Youy have some great birdlife in Utah too. I especially like the inland pelicans. Have they always wandered that far away from the coast?

    August 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    • Their travels and meandering are new to me, Finn, but the highlighted link I provided with the bird’s name above makes it sound like it’s very common for them to be here. Evidently they breed here in the mountains and out on the northern Great Plains and then head back to the coast for the winter. It’s rather peculiar, if you ask me, but I guess they’ve been successful at doing it this way. 🙂

      August 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm

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