Color Me Invisible

After sighting the American Avocets on our walk in Broomfield, I started looking for Avocet chicks since I had seen them there on previous visits.  I didn’t find any. Instead, I found this  Killdeer


that seemed particularly aware of us but didn’t give an alert or leave the area. That inspired me to start looking for chicks, but  I didn’t see any for quite a while.  Eventually, I sighted this little guy who stood out in the dark-green foliage.

Killdeer Chick

Apparently he hadn’t mastered the art of camouflage as well as his fellow chicks, which turned out to be quite a bit closer to us than he was.

Most of the chicks were good enough at hiding themselves that my Canon R5 wouldn’t focus on them, so I ended up with a lot of blurry shots of foliage.  Still, I ended up with a couple of good shots like this

Killdeer Chick

and this.

I’ll never know if other chicks were so good at camouflaging that they just disappeared, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if there were.

Deja Vu, All Over Again

We went to Broomfield to see Sydney’s soccer team play in the state playoffs and Zoe’s high school graduation. We stopped at Bear River on the way to find American Avocets after failing to find any in California a few weeks before. We took so many Avocet pictures at Bear River, that we certainly didn’t need any more. 

So, what did we see on our first walk in Broomfield?  American Avocets, naturally. Knowing how many pictures I already had to go through, I mentally hesitated to take more shots of them, but, as always, I found it impossible to resist taking yet another shot.  

American Avocet

Somehow it just seems wrong not to take at least one shot when I see a beautiful bird, 

American Avocet

and if the bird takes off, naturally you have to record what the wings look like in flight, mentally comparing them to  Black-necked Stilts’ wings.

American Avocet in Flight

And if you happen to see another Avocet standing next to a Canada Goose you have to get a shot to get a sense of an Avocet’s size, something that’s quite difficult to do in a photo.

Avocet next to Canada Goose

Luckily, it isn’t until you get home and sit down at the computer that you realize how many shots you have taken and how long it will take to pick the best shots from those taken and adjust them to end up with the best picture possible.

Bear River Odds and Ends

I visit the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge as often as possible to see the American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, White-faced Ibis and White-faced Ibis, Grebes, and Forster Terns, but whenever I visit I’m reminded that there is so much more to see there.

For instance, we were greeted by this Franklin Gull (which I admittedly confused with the Bonaparte Gull that I used to see regularly at Malheur).

Franklin Gull

We occasionally see Curlew on the beach in California during the winter, but I can usually count on seeing one or two at Bear River.


We saw Cinnamon Teal at the Sacramento NWR on our trip to Arizona, but I will never miss a chance to get a shot as close-up and as beautiful as this.  

male Cinnamon Teal

I see a lot more Brown Pelicans than White Pelicans, but it’s hard to miss seeing them at Bear River since they congregate at both the entrance to the auto tour and on the ponds on the far side of the refuge.

White Pelican

The Yellow-headed Blackbird’s raucous call makes them hard to miss.

Although I don’t remember ever seeing a Western Kingbird on the refuge itself, they commonly line the road to and from the refuge (and sometimes they will even sit still long enough to get a shot after you stop and retrieve your camera).

Western Kingbird

It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in Brigham City or I would spend all my time on the refuge and never have time to put together blog entries.

As we drove toward the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge we saw a flock of Terns swooping by.  I pulled over into a rest area and took this shot of a tern perching, briefly, on a post overlooking the wetlands. I think it’s a Forster Tern, but it could well be a Common Tern  (Merlin merely suggests it’s one or the other and leaves the final decision to me).

Tern on pole

That’s the only picture I managed to get at that first stop, despite spending 10 or fifteen minutes trying to get a shot of them in flight.  They’re not as hard as Swallows to capture mid-air, but they’re a close second.   

After we got to the refuge we spotted several in the distance where I could use my 1000mm lens (500mm with a doubler) to capture shots of them whisking by carrying small fish.

Tern with small fish

Unfortunately, since the 500 mm lens is mounted on the car door, it’s impossible to photograph terns that are very high in the air.

Tern in flight

I didn’t get a photo I liked until we left the refuge and returned to where we had seen them earlier.  Then I got out of the car and switched to the much lighter R5 camera with a 600mm telephoto with a 1.4 multiplier that Leslie had been using so that I could try to track the Terns as they flew up and down.  

Luckily, they hover for a brief moment before diving into the water.  That pause was just long enough that the autofocus on the camera would kick in, resulting in shots like this

Tern Hovering

and this.

I still haven’t managed to get a shot of a tern just as it hits the water, but that’s all the more reason to go back next year and try, try again.