Western Grebe with a chick riding piggyback – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
Cute Alert! Whenever I see Western Grebe chicks riding piggyback on their parents I can’t help thinking that there is a definite cute factor going on right in front of me. Bear River National Wildlife Refuge’s auto tour route in northern Utah is a great place to see Western and Clark’s Grebes during the breeding season. Early in the season the adults can be seen performing their mating rituals which includes a choreographed courtship display called rushing where both birds rise up, slap the water with their feet and rush across a body of water.
After the courtship, nest building and incubation the tiny grebe chicks are brooded on the backs of the adults for a period of 2 to 4 weeks. When the chicks are as young as the one shown above they bear little resemblance to the adults in coloration, instead of black and white they are a soft gray and downy with dark eyes and a stubby black bill.
Cute? You be the judge.
Bear River National Wildlife Refuge – One of 555 National Wildlife Refuges
Yesterday on the local news I saw that Governor Herbert offered to fund the reopening of Utah’s five National Parks which are Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches and Capitol Reef. Local law enforcement would step in to keep our Utah National Parks open.
What do I think about that plan? Hell yeah, open the parks. NOW.
The (Utah) governor’s office says the economic impact of the federal government shutdown on Utah is approximately $100 million because October is a peak tourism month for many national parks in the state.
Another article on the planned opening of Utah National Park as posted on NPR: County In Utah Threatens Takeover Of National Park Areas.
This is stupid. There are approximately 59 National Parks, 103 National Monuments and 555 National Wildlife Refuge’s that are shuttered because of the federal government shutdown. Every community near the Parks, Monuments and Wildlife Refuges is suffering HUGE financial losses because of this shutdown. Tourists that wanted to see our national treasures have been turned away.
Adult Bald Eagle on the Bear River
Our National Parks, Wildlife Refuges and Monuments are being held hostage by a few elected officials and it is past time for that to stop.
Do your jobs. That is about as simple as I can put it.
“Unstained” adult Sandhill Crane – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
A few days ago I saw quite a few Sandhill Cranes starting at just past the Visitors Center for Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, in one of the farmer’s fields I saw 11 of them feeding in the freshly tilled soil. I didn’t take any images of them because there were too far away and the sun hadn’t yet fully risen. Later on I spotted two more Sandhill adults in a field that I did take images of even though I would have preferred them to be closer. During this time of the year many of the Sandhill Cranes I see are mostly soft mousey gray in color but…
“Stained” adult Sandhill Crane – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
they can look like they are any where from drab clay colored to cinnamon rufous because their plumage gets stained by water, vegetation and mud. Sandhill Cranes intentionally rub their plumage with soil and the color of the soil can determine what color the stain becomes. A freshly molted crane will appear pale to slate colored gray. Normally the stains are mid-neck or below but the crane above shows staining up the neck into the chin and upper throat.
Stained or unstained I think Sandhill Cranes are quite lovely for living fossils.
Immature Western Grebe – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
Two days ago we went to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and saw that the water is still low, many of the birds are too far away to photograph and that the best place for seeing birds close up was the south side of the auto tour route.
There were some Western Grebes still in the area and some had young with them. The immature Western Grebe above was hatched this year and while it is beginning to look more like the adults there are still signs it hasn’t fully matured, the blacks aren’t nearly as black as on the adults, the eyes are nearly as red, the bill isn’t nearly as long and the plumage on the neck looks as curly as a Poodle that was just clipped. It won’t be long though before this youngster looks just like the adults heads south for the winter to return in the spring to find a territory to call its own.