Lazuli Buntings near the San Rafael River

Morning at the San Rafael River campground - Emery County, UtahMorning at the San Rafael River campground – Emery County, Utah

Utah has so many stunning places to visit, awesome views to see and has an abundance of birds and wildlife to observe and photograph.  The San Rafael Swell Recreation Area in central Utah is a gorgeous location that is far from towns and civilization. Locals call this area “Castle Country” and it doesn’t take much imagination to see the amazing rock formations as castles.

The San Rafael Swell is 2,000 square miles of public land and everywhere you look you can see stunning formations of Entrada and Navajo Sandstone. Some of the canyon walls are embellished with “Desert Varnish”, the varnish is the dark wash on the canyon wall on the right hand side of the image above.

Lazuli Bunting male with a sky backgroundLazuli Bunting male with a sky background – Nikon D200, f8, 1/1000, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not set up or called in

I have enjoyed photographing Lazuli Buntings (Passerina amoena) near the San Rafael River at the San Rafael Swell Recreation Area. These images were taken in the spring when the males were high on perches singing to attract females. The males sport a sky blue head, a mantle tinged with brown, a dull orange breast and a white belly. They are the colorful relative of the Indigo Bunting of the east. The name comes from the semi precious gemstone Lapis Lazuli, one of my favorites for making jewelry.

I like the sky as the background in the image above but feel the blue sky competes with the blues of the bird. I still won’t pass up a shot of this bunting even with a plain blue sky in the background though.

Male Lazuli Bunting with Navajo Sandstone in the backgroundMale Lazuli Bunting with Navajo Sandstone in the background – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not set up or called in

In this frame the Lazuli Bunting is perched on a Greasewood (Sarcobatus vermiculatus) shrub and has the Navajo Sandstone of the canyon wall as a background. To my eye the bird’s colors stands out better in this image.

That is just my own personal taste though.

Mia

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