Utah Birds, Utah Birding, and Utah Birders. Promoting the sharing of information, and the conservation of habitat for birds in Utah and elsewhere. We are a group of people who want to share what we know, and create a positive birding experience in Utah.


a blog by and for Utah Birders

A History of Glossy Ibis in Utah

posted by Tim Avery at
on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 

Let's go back to 2004 and play a little game.  If you were a birder in Utah at that time, or for that case any number of western states, it is very likely that you had never seen a Glossy Ibis on your home turf.  I can't independently verify dates, but here is what I found for first records:  Wyoming (July 2005), Nevada (May 2009), Idaho (June 2005), and Arizona (April 2008).

My first Utah Glossy Ibis, April 2007

The dates above are from information available on the Internet, but may not represent first reports.  Colorado and New Mexico had already recorded Glossy Ibis more than a decade earlier from the east side of the Rockies so I did not include them above.  Montana appears to have a single report from 2004, and Washington from 2005.  Oregon is seemingly the only Pacific state without a record.  California is of course the anomaly, as with many other sightings of eastern species they had numerous prior to 2004.

Most Utah birders probably didn't have Glossy Ibis on their radar in 2004, it was a species associated with the east, and even with some westward expansion, a giant mountain range was separating them from our fair state. I know a lot of birders keep wish lists of birds they hope will eventually show up in state, or that might be here and have gone undetected for years due to small populations, or hard to reach habitat, or a general lack of scientific understanding of distribution.  But I personally didn't have Glossy Ibis on my list, I had seen them on the east coast, and associated them that way.

Glossy Ibis in Salt Lake County, 2008

Fast forward to 2006 and out of nowhere the dam broke.  Overnight Utah went from 0 reports of this species to at least 3 separate sightings in the month of June.  And then again in 2007, 2008, 2009... To the point that now this species that less than a decade ago had not been reported in Utah, was now almost expected annually.  So what happened?

Glossy Ibis at Bear Lake, 2010

Did the numbers of Glossy Ibis across the nation rise?  Did the populations expand their ranges further west? Were the birds always there, but due to conventional wisdom went overlooked for years?  Were birders better?  Were birders paying more attention or even looking for these birds?  Maybe a combination of factors?  Something changed in 2006 in Utah, which of the states mentioned above has seen more reports since these initial finds, than the rest of the states around us (Colorado is about par with us).

Glossy Ibis in Lehi, 2012

Looking back through my own reports, I have had Glossy Ibis every year back to 2007, with the exception of 2009.  I will be the first to admit that prior to the first report in 2006, I hadn't spent very much time scanning flocks of ibis in hopes of turning up a Glossy.  But since then, rarely do I see a flock that I don't give the twice over just to make sure one is sandwiched into the group.  How many birders fall into that category?  I would imagine quite a few are in the same boat. What about being better birders?  We all get better each year, without a doubt skills improve as we hone them in.  And that may play into finding rare birds--in that if you are looking, or know what, and when to look for certain things, you are more likely to find them.

Utah's first ever Western Gull, Farmington Bay 2007

I have my doubts that the birds were always there, just mixed in unnoticed.  It is possible, but I would guess that it more has to do with some type of expansion than just being overlooked for so long.  Combine that with more ardent observers and the increase in sightings makes sense.  The same could be said for a number of other species.  Dare I suggest Western Gull?  A bird that before 2006 had never been confirmed away from the coastal states, and now is expected during the winter on the Great Salt Lake.  What about Lesser Black-backed Gull?  Their expansion may be one of the most dramatic from east to west, and as with the above it is now expected every winter.  How about Neotropic Cormorant?  Why is a bird that 5 short years ago never showed up away from the the southern borders is now popping up all over the country, and in some places even apparently breeding?

Count them--6 Neotropic Cormorants
in Salt Lake County in May 2010

The list could go on.  The reasons may be varying, and truthfully, I don't think anyone can pinpoint the exact reason for many of these presumed "expansions".  I think the one thing the majority of birders can agree on is that the sharing of information is far more extensive now than a decade ago.  This makes learning about birds, patterns, migration, distribution, etc, easier than it used to be, and with more people armed with knowledge about these subjects it can only help in making us better and more informed birders.  It's not just a hobby where retirees (no offense intended) spend their morning walking around the parks admiring the ducks.  Birding has become more scientific and more mainstream than it was when I was growing up.  The leaps and bounds of the last decade will probably seem minuscule with what happens in the next ten years.  I guess I'll have to look back then and see how things have changed even more.  The only question is,what birds will I be using as examples then?

Labels: , , , , , ,

Endemics - Peru Prepping Part 4

posted by Tim Avery at
on Friday, July 27, 2012 

White-tufted Sunbeam found in the highlands of south central Peru,
and one of a handful of endemic Hummingbirds here.
Photo Copyright Simon Valdez

So, in Peru there are 1879 species of birds (or somewhere in that arena), of which 139 are endemic (numbers are ever changing due to more research). A species that is endemic is unique to a specific geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type. Endemic species are likely to develop in biologically isolated areas such as the Andes because of that geographical isolation.

Scarlet-hooded Barbet is mostly endemic 
to Peru and the lowland Amazon
Photo Copyright Fabrice Schmitt

139 species.  That's pretty amazing--in contrast, the Unites States has a total of just 13 species of endemic birds, 3 of which occur in Utah (Black Rosy-Finch, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, and Gunnison Sage-Grouse).   Endemic birds are typically highly sought after by birders because you have to travel to a specific location to see them.  They are often rare, threatened, or endangered because of habitat and range requirements and in decline due to human factors.

Creamy-crested Spinetail is a highly sought
after high elevation bird found around Cuzco.
Photo Copyright Kristian Svensson

If I were going to Peru just for a birding trip, I would certainly plan a route that would put me in as many areas for the endemics as possible.  But since this is a touring vacation and the birding is just part of the overall experience I will take what I can get--which comes out to be somewhere around 34 possible endemics.  There are several other species/subspecies I left off the list because I'm not entirely sure of their status as full species. Below is a complete list, and below that I highlight a few of the more interesting endemics in my opinion.

Masked Fruiteater is a long shot on the east slope of the Andes,
but an endemic of a cool family of birds.
Photo Copyright Kristian Svensson

Taczanowski's Tinamou, Green-and-white Hummingbird, White-tufted Sunbeam, Bearded Mountaineer, Peruvian Sheartail, White-throated Jacamar, Scarlet-hooded Barbet, Fine-barred Piculet, Coastal Miner, Thick-billed Miner, Surf Cinclodes, White-browed Tit-Spinetail, Creamy-crested Spinetail, Marcapata Spinetail, Puna Thistletail, Rusty-fronted Canastero, Junin Canastero, White-lined Antbird, Rufous-fronted Antthrush, Red-and-white Antpitta, Vilcabamba Tapaculo, Masked Fruiteater, Black-faced Cotinga, Inca Flycatcher , Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, White-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, Inca Wren, Golden-bellied Warbler, Parodi's Hemispingus , Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch, Raimondi's Yellow-Finch, Cuzco Brush Finch, and Apurimac Brush Finch

Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch is another high elevation specialist,
and found in the south central highlands.
Photo Copyright Joel Rosenthal

If I can even come up with 1/3 of these birds that would be phenomenal--but hey the more the merrier right?  I say the more the merrier indeed!

Labels: , ,

When My Lens Got Foggy

posted by Tim Avery at
on Thursday, July 26, 2012 

My senior year of college I asked and my dad agreed to help me buy a a Canon 100-400 IS lens so I could work on wildlife photography.  I was graduating with a degree in Studio Art and had concentrated on photography and graphic design and wanted to do wildlife photography.  I remember the week I got the lens, taking it out on campus right as spring migration was heating up.  I took what is still my best photo of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, along with a handful of shots of species I haven't photographed since that spring in Wisconsin 7  years ago.  It was a spectacular lens, especially for someone who had used cheap plastic lenses the previous couple years.  Night and day as they say.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker taken with the
Canon 100-400mm lens in 2005.

I had agreed to pay my dad back for the lens, but after it became apparent that I wasn't going to make it as a wildlife photographer, and that the stiff job market at the time kept me working in retail for a year--he just told, "don't worry about it.".  But a year after that I finally had a job, and some money in my pocket--so being a ripe young 24 year old, I went out and made a lofty purchase of a Sigma 50-500 lens to accompany the Canon.  I thought the 500mm would bring me closer, and better pictures--but part of my inexperience was that I didn't realize the lenses were in different leagues.  The 500 took pretty good images--but I never loved the colors I got and it just didn't produce the same quality.  It was a cheaper lens, but occasionally it found it very useful, and it became a staple in my camera bag.  It was a useful backup lens for years, and the range form 50-500 made it worthwhile to use when I was in a location where the birds and the scenery were both on my mind for photos.

Me with the old (new at the time) Sigma 50-500mm lens in 2006.

Early in 2011 I started noticing that quite a few pictures through my Canon were coming out soft.  I could see dust inside the lens, there were blurred shots because the image stabilization didn't appear to be working all that great, and in general unless a bird was within 20 feet, the pictures were just okay.  I made it work most of the time, and despite being worried about how the lens would perform in Costa Rica last summer, I failed to get it repaired because I didn't want to spend the money at the time.  And I will admit I likely paid for it in terms of quality of a lot of what I photographed while there.  Afterwards I kept at it, until this winter when I was photographing hawks and took a lot of bad photos.  I switched too the 50-500, which in contrast seemed to be taking better pictures.  Looking back I now realize how bad the Canon had gotten, while the seldom used Sigma was still like new.

Harlan's Hawk photo taken with the old 50-500mm Sigma 
this past winter.

I recently did the math and guess that I shot anywhere from 150,000-250,000 shots through the Canon.  Shooting anywhere from 20,000-40,000 shots a year (mostly wildlife) I would say I probably got the lenses worth out of it.  As the winter wore on I was using the Sigma everyday, taking around 200 shots a day for several weeks as I spent my lunch hours watching wintering raptors.  Then one day my camera was on my desk at work, half in it's back, but unzipped, when I turned and my chair arm snagged the backpack pulling it off the desk, only a couple feet high.  But when I looked down I could see the lens was separated from the camera body, and the damage was severe.  The bracket was still attached to the camera, and all the screws that held it to the lens had pulled loose.  The digital ribbon inside the lens was torn in half, and a number of gaskets were bent.  It was a mess.

I put the 100-400 back on the camera and put the Sigma back in its boxes figuring, I would take it to a repair shop sooner or later to see what they could do.  since then the 100-400 has been my staple.  I have seen the same quality issues, but as with the previous year made it work.  As we have been planning for Peru, photography has been heavy on my mind.  This is likely to be a trip I won't be repeating any time soon--so I wanted to make sure everything I photograph is as good as I can make it.  And the Canon lens had me worried.  So after weeks of deliberating on what to do--I finally bought a new backup lens.  I honestly wasn't sure what to do--I thought about getting another Canon 100-400 to have a new crisp clean lens.  I would send mine back to be repaired and then sell it.  Or would I spend a 3rd less and get something like a Tokina that had descent reviews, but was noted as being "no Canon" in various reviews.  It was a true backup lens.  Then there was of course Sigma.  I had always been keen on them, but the same lens no cost more than the Canon.  It had been major league upgraded, but I couldn't see myself spending more on a lens that if it had similar glass to the last one, wasn't worth the price tag.  That left the Sigma 150-500 lens.  An image stabilized lens but about 1/2 the price of the 50-500.

Reading reviews they were highly positive and it seemed like a right choice.  With less of a zoom factor I imagined the distortion may be less, and with image stabilization it had something the last lens didn't that made it all the better.  So I went ahead and ordered it.  I got my Canon ready to ship back, but decided I would wait to test the Sigma out to see if I had mad ea good decision, or if I would be instead sending it back, and trying something else.  Yesterday afternoon the package arrived at my house, and when I got home, I unpacked it, gave it the once over, and hooked it up to the camera.

The new Sigma 150-500mm lens

The first bird to come in was a female black-chinned Hummingbird, and in a volley of shots, not one came out crisp and clear.  I had forgot to change the settings, and still had the ISO at 1600 from the night before.  Everything got washed out with the flash and it wasn't a good test. I decided to wait till the sun dipped behind the Ponderosas in my neighbors yard so the lighting would be more adequate for the flash.  After 7:00pm I was back at the window, and the male Rufous Hummingbird that has been King of the Mountain all week started his routine.  After toying with the settings a little bit, I started to get the pictures I had been hoping for--but even better.

Rufous Hummingbird with the new Sigma Lens

It was a start contrast to the quality I had come to know with the beaten up Canon lens--the Canon that was a far cry from its once top of the line zoom self.  It was also night and day between the old Sigma in terms of clarity, color and quality.  I was getting the shots I never got with the previous Sigma.  The hummingbird only came in 2 or 3 times, so I made the best of it and was able to unleash a flurry of shots each time it stopped by.  Below are two shots, the one on the left taken today with the Sigma, and the one on the right taken a few days ago with the Canon.  Same time of day and location, very similar settings, but very different results.

Left photographed with Sigma, Right with Canon

This of course was just one test with one bird coming to feeders. I will need to take it up in the mountains and out to the lake to see how it performs in other settings.  But for a first glimpse into what it can do I am very happy with this lens.  I have a feeling that this will be the primary lens I use in Peru and after.

Closeup of the New Sigma Lens

Now talking about the actual lens there are some major differences from the predecessor worth noting.  First is the 150-500mm range, which I do think I will appreciate more in the long run.  The lens hood has been updated to a similar style as the canon instead of a 1/3 hood like many short lenses use--this provides more protection for that front element which is never a bad thing.  Image stabilization!  This might be the single best improvement made to the lens.  At 500mm it is a big lens, and heavy, and when hand held it's sometimes hard to keep things crisp.  The IS should help with that, and overall improve the quality of the shots.  The weight of the lens is also less than the previous version.  I don't know the exact amount, but it seems like a pound or more of weight was cut out of this lens.  The flip side is the reason.  The outer body now appears to mostly be of a resin, and/or plastic instead of the metal body of the previous version.  Internal parts till appear to be high quality, but the the casing does have a"cheaper" feel about it.  That is probably the only concern I have, but the lighter weight may be worth it.

One more of a beautiful Rufous Hummingbird

All in all I can say I am happy with the update, and having a new lens is always a nice feeling.  The true test will be how it performs for the 2 weeks in South America. Until then it's all just practice I guess!

Labels: , , , ,

Owl Research

posted by Utah Birders Guest Blogger at
on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 

About two weeks ago, I went out on a nighttime trip with the Swaner Nature Center, searching for a Flamulated Owl. It was successful in many ways. I saw the owl (a new life bird). I met a couple of Summit County birders, who I have since gone birding with. And finally, I met Markus Mika, from HawkWatch International.

I followed up on Markus's offer to go out for a day with their owl researchers. This morning, I drove out to Huntsville Utah and met William, a summer employee, and Bryce, a more serious and useful volunteer than myself. We drove to Eden, then a bit further, then on a back road, then on a winding dirt road, and finally parked before our mile+ hike. The location of the owls is safely locked away in my lack of memory.

Because I was the old, visiting guy, they didn't make me carry the ladder during the day.

The owl nests we were hunting for were boxes put in trees 10 years ago.  They hadn't been checked since, but we did have a good hand-drawn map.  William and Bryce had been up last week checking the first 20 boxes and had found one nest of Flammulated Owls, which was the topic of this research project. It had four eggs in it, so our first stop was to see if any had hatched.

The trick to this owl work is to catch mom napping in the nest box during the day.  Dad is around somewhere and brings food at night, but doesn't hang around the box.  The first step is to sneak very, very quietly up on the nest with a long pole with a hat at the end. Before mom wakes up to look around, you poke the hat in the hole (entry way) so she can't leave.  Want some owl irony?  The hat was from Hooters. Here we have William waiting for step 2.

With the hat firmly in the hole, you prop the ladder against the tree, climb up, and for safety's sake, tie the ladder to the tree.  It turns out that squirrels, including flying squirrels, like these nests and may come popping out when you open the top.  No sense falling from 12 feet from a squirrel startle. Bryce is about to go grasping for owls.

Reach into the nesting box and out comes a Flammulated Owl.  This is a full grown female. Once she realizes she isn't making a quick escape, she just hangs out peacefully.

That's a good thing, because one of the first things we did was set her in a bag to weigh her. Even full grown, they only weigh about 2 ounces.

We leave her resting in her little bag and get the owlets. Last week they had found 4 eggs in this nest.  Two had hatched, but the other two were unlikely to.

Like their mom, they get measured and weighed.  This is a very cautious, careful job.

Remember decorating Easter eggs when you were a child?  Well, somehow the researchers need to distinguish between the owlets on future visits.  The answer?  Sharpies!  I am not sure the marker company will ever use this in their ads, but a Sharpie works well on little owls.

Now, styling a black mohawk, he is returned to a hand with his nest mate.

We also stopped by and did a quick visit with a Saw-whet owl. Since this isn't the topic of their research, we stopped just long enough for me to get a picture.  Notice the dramatic difference between the Saw-whet's eyes and the Flammulated's. I think the Saw-whet's look more like Jasper's when he is waiting for you to toss a ball.

As we were pounding through the forest looking for nest boxes, Bryce found this intact skull, which we were fairly certain was a moose.  He didn't find the rest of the skeleton.

Of the eight nesting boxes we were trying to find:

--Two were lost
--Three had missing covers, so no animal would use them
--One had become a squirrel nest
--Two had Flammulated owl nests. One had three eggs yet to be hatched and one had four nestlings.  You normally have 2 or 3, so finding one with 4 live, happy nestlings was a good find.

I am so used to thinking about owls the size or Great Horned, Barred or Barn.  Seeing owls that look the same, but are shrunk down to a handful is just incredible.

Here is the smallest of the four nestlings.  He only weighed 7 grams, about 1/4 of an ounce.  His little eyes weren't open yet.

While he was being weighed and measured, his three nest mates were relaxing.  Of course, they had already been measured and had met Mr. Sharpie.  May I introduce Black, Blue and Red. The littlest guy was lucky.  He got to remain clear.

This isn't a great video but demonstrates the funniest thing I saw all day.  When you have an owl in your hand, they either play dead or just start napping.  Even then, they seem to have a non-stop stability system for their head that rivals any camera system.  Watch her head as Bryce moves his hand around.



A huge thanks to HawkWatch and Markus for letting me tag along on a day of owl work.  And thanks to William and Bryce who put up with my endless questions. It was truly a memorable experience. Finding two more nests meant a successful day and now they have more of the boxes GPS-tagged for future visits.

Good Birding
Steve Joyce
Steve Joyce's Blog


Do you have an idea for a guest blog post? Submit your idea for a blog post by clicking the button below:

Labels: ,

Yard Birding

posted by Tim Avery at
on Monday, July 16, 2012 

Growing up in the city (as much as you can call Salt Lake a city) I was always accustomed to having just a handful of regular bird visiting the feeders. Maybe 5-10 birds that I saw everyday, the most common yard birds. Of course over the course of a decade turning up another 60 or 70 species is not surprising. But depending on what time of year there were always those few birds. The European Starlings, House Sparrows, House Finches, American Robins, and Mourning Doves. Those were the birds. In the winter there were occasionally goldfinches, juncos, and woodpeckers. In the spring there might be warblers and waxwings. In the summer there were hummingbirds and hawks. And in the fall you might get a falcon--but were more likely to get a few finches.

Pine Siskin
When we bought our home in Sandy I knew it was a great location for birds. It was in an ancient river bottom, a natural kind of funnel from the mountains into the valley. There is a stream a few blocks away--the trees in the neighborhood are mature. Oaks line hillsides at the top of the street, and less less than 2 miles away are those mountains. It's a pretty good location for yard birding. I expect between 10-15 species most days--and have had a handful of 20+ days. I don't think I ever had a 20 species day growing up at my parents house. The quality of birds has been amazing as well--especially the hummingbirds.

The 2nd Ruby-throated Hummingbird 
we had at the feeders.

But not just the hummingbirds--the finches, the hawks, warblers, and woodpeckers too. In just a couple years we have had as many species as I had in 10+ years in Sugarhouse. I know of better yards, and way better places to live for yard birding--but for the "city" it ain't bad. Some days I just enjoy sitting in my office with my windows open watching the feeders, and listening to the activity outside. Yesterday was one of those mornings, and the pictures below are a handful of the birds that joined the party.

Black-headed Grosbeak

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Bullock's Oriole

Mourning Dove

Some days you don't even have to leave the house for some real good birding. Feel free to share some of your great yard birding memories or stories in the comments section below.

Labels: , , , ,

Survival of an Eagle

posted by Tim Avery at
on Saturday, July 7, 2012 

This was on CNN's home page tonight, "The resilience of a burned baby golden eagle that survived a Utah wildfire is astounding wildlife rehabilitators nursing him back to health."

Check out the story about a Golden Eagle chick that survived the dump fire in Utah County and is being nursed back to health at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Ogden.

This young Golden Eagle, nicknamed Phoenix
is being cared for after suffering burns from a wildfire
south of Salt Lake City in late June.

It's amazing to hear such a great story come from such a tragic event.  Given the 1,000's of creatures that didn't survive, this bird is lucky to be alive, and at least in my opinion shows there is some hope despite the numerous people that just don't seem to care about how what they do effects the world around them.

And kudos to Kent Keller and Wildlife Rehabilitation Center!

Labels: , ,

Other Things With Wings

posted by Tim Avery at
on Monday, July 2, 2012 

I remember some years back out birding with Colby Neuman and a group of birders from Cornell.  It was during the AOU convention at the University of Wyoming in Laramie during the onset of fall migration.  We had driven out into the middle of nowhere to a spot that the day before was loaded with migrant Calliope Hummingbirds visiting the flowers along the road--it was the last place you would expect to see a hummingbird.  But there they were, zipping left and right from flower to flower and sitting on the barbed wire fence.  While I was amused with the hummingbirds I noticed the Cornell guys staring at the ground through their binoculars and wondered what in the hell they were doing.  I could have swore they were looking at dragonflies--no that couldn't be possible, there were Calliope Hummingbirds in the middle of the prairie--why would they be looking at dragonflies?

Red-veined Meadowhawk near Laramie, Wyoming

As it turns out, they were looking at dragonflies and the reason was simple, this species of "meadowhawk" was not found in New York!  A meadow huh? Meadowhawk? That's right they were dragonfly watching, and they knew the names of the dragonflies.  Now, I have always considered myself very aware of everything natural around me.  I knew there were different species of bees, butterflies, and dragonflies, but it had never occurred to me to look at them closely before.  I would take a photo if it were interesting, but aside form that, they were just sort of a side note to my time outdoors--like the flowers, trees, and rocks.  So now my interest was piqued, and for the remainder of the day as we made stops for birds the "dragonflying" (if we can call it that) continued.  I didn't think much of it at the time--I was in the midst of my Utah Big Year and when I got home it was the start of one of the best fall migrations I remember--dragonflies were cool but not as cool as the birds.  It was almost a year later when I was at Antelope Island watching a warbler along a creek when all of the sudden I really started noticing the dragonflies.  They were everywhere, and they were easy as hell to photograph.

Clockwise from top left: Lance-tailed Darner, Twelve-spotted Skimmer,
Western Pondhawk, & Saffron-winged Meadowhawk

This was all about the same time that I started to notice butterlfies a little more.  I used to give Colby a hard time because he would get caught up looking at a butterfly while we were birding--and now I was doing the same--damnit another field guide I have to pick up.  By the end of 2008 I had guides to both dragonflies and butterflies and while birding you were just as likely to catch me trying to figure out what kind of Fritillary I was looking at as you were to find me admiring the subtle plumage of a Brewer's Sparrow.

Clockwise from top left: Common Buckeye, American Snout,
Great Purple Hairstreak, and Queen

I now think about all the years spent in the midwest where I didn't pay much attention at all to the insects.  What did I miss?  What will I likely never have the chance to see again?  Why didn't I notice these things at the time?  Was it because I was so focused on bird?  More importantly, how did it take me so long to connect the dots, and realize that I wasn't just interested in birds, I also had an interest in other things with wings?  It is frustrating to think about, but I like to think that the last few years I have made the most out of it.  I am no master of ID when it comes to the non-avian flying creatures, but I give it a shot--just this weekend I spent a couple hours photographing butterflies while the birding was slow.

Clockwise from top left: Relict Fritillary, Western Sulphur,
Common Sootywing, and Greenish Blue

I can't imagine being able to identify every butterfly, dragonfly, or any other flying insect--there are just too many and some of the complexes make the empids look like a cake walk.  IF insects aren't your thing though, you can take another route--how about flying mammals?  I have always found bats fascinating--but harder than hell to photograph.  A couple years ago my wife's parents had dozens of these winged creatures flying over their neighborhood during the summer.  I took the opportunity to learn to shoot photos of moving targets in the dark.

Big Brown Bat

I definitely wouldn't say I am hooked on bats, but they are interesting and equally tough to learn.  So next time you find yourself out and about, and maybe the birding ain't so great, take a minute and see what other flying creatures might be nearby--you never know what you might find!

Is it a Fly is it a Bee? Strange weird things with wings!

You can check out all my other non bird related wildlife photos on my website through this link! If you notice anything not identified correctly, don't hesitate to let me know!

Labels: , , , ,