Friday, February 15, 2013

Back to Farmington

This may be a recurring theme: trips to Farmington Bay until I get the photos I want.

Today was forecast to be sunny and since it was a weekday, I figured it wouldn't be very busy. As is almost always the case, wrong, and wrong again.  The forecasters blew it completely.  At least it wasn't raining but there were heavy clouds.  I got there around 8:15 or 8:30 and apparently I was the last person from the Salt Lake Valley to show up.  I couldn't even get my car to a good spot for eagles. So, Jasper the toothless dog and I just drove around looking for stuff.

The first thing we found was a flock of pheasants.  They all took off for the brush except this one, who seemed willing to stand in the clearing for a bit.  I like seeing pheasants but I need to get better at identifying the females when there isn't a male around.  At a distance, they look too much like grouse.
When there are 50+ eagles flying around, you don't have to be in a primo spot to find them.  This one flew so close to my car that I couldn't photograph him with my 500mm lens.
When they get ready to land, they give you a good view of just how big they are. All that wing allows them to touch down extremely gracefully.
This was my first good photo of the day.  The eagle on the bottom was sitting there gnawing on some seafood.  Another eagle swoops down at high speed to attack and claim the fish.  In one incredible move, the eagle on the ground does a back flip so that he fends off the attack talon-to-talon.  He kept his fish and the judge awarded him a 10.  (Of course, Jasper was the judge)
Jasper and I continued along the road and found a kestrel hanging out. They aren't the most ferocious looking of hawks, but their color is beautiful.
Then Jasper and I stumbled across the prize bird for the day, a Barn Owl.  He was just sitting in a tree away from all the people.
... and then he closed his eyes and gave himself a big shake.  The move looked just like Jasper after he gets a bath, but the owl wasn't wet.  Quite the fluff ball.
So, cloudy and crowded worked out OK. Otherwise I would have been sitting there shooting eagles all morning and would have missed this guy completely.

Farmington is teeming with raptors.  In addition to the dozens of eagles and the owl, I probably saw over 25 hawks.  Since I was doing photography and not birdwatching, I didn't bother trying to identify things that were further away. I definitely saw numerous Harriers, Kestrel, and Rough-legged hawks.
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