Dusky Grouse male – Francis Peak

Yesterday I made my first journey up Bountiful Canyon on Sky Line Drive and I have to say it took my breath away. The views were incredible, imagine seeing the Great Salt Lake from over 9,000 feet. The flat valley and distant mountains stretching up out before me to the west, south and north. The falls colors were nothing to sneeze at either with the reds of the oaks and the golden colors of the aspens.

Male Dusky Grouse on Sky Line DriveMale Dusky Grouse on Sky Line Drive – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Near the summit of Francis Peak, elevation 9,560 feet, I spotted this Dusky Grouse on the edge of a gravel road with a steep drop off to the west and I was able to get a few photographs of it before we motioned to a pickup truck coming down from the summit to move forward.

It was great of the pickup driver to stop and allow us to take photos of this lovely upland game bird. It doesn’t happen that often that another driver will stop when they see a bird in the road and photographers with their lenses out the window. I’m grateful that he stopped and chatted with us too after the bird flew away.

Dusky Grouse male up Bountiful CanyonDusky Grouse male near the summit of Francis Peak – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

This frame was taken just before the grouse took to the air. I caught the bird in flight in the next frame but I clipped the front of the bird’s bill. I am still kicking my own butt for missing (or messing up) that shot.

Dusky Grouse used to be named Blue Grouse and I can understand why when I look at the bird’s coloring. This bird isn’t in breeding plumage, if he were the bright yellow “eyebrow” would be far more noticeable.

Over all I was very impressed with Bountiful Canyon, Sky Line Drive and the whole area which is high up in the Wasatch Mountain range and I can’t wait to go back.

Mia

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