Jun 172012

There weren’t many birds present at the San Rafael Swell Recreation Site in central Utah this past week, the San Rafael River seemed lower than I have seen it and there was evidence of drought conditions, mainly in the vegetation there.

The greasewoods looked yellow instead of the vibrant green I remember from the past two years, plants that are normally flowering weren’t and many of those plants appeared stunted.

It wasn’t a complete wash though because I did come back with some juvenile Common Raven (Corvus corax) images that I like.

There was a family of ravens making a racket in and near the campsite which was right next to the two bridges over the San Rafael River, at one point I counted at least six birds, there may have been more.

The Swinging Bridge is no longer used for vehicle traffic but it is safe for foot traffic. It was built in 1938 and was the only bridge at the site until the early 1990′s.

Juvenile Common Raven back view – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/500, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 322mm, natural light, not baited

Calling juvenile Common Raven – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 314mm, natural light, not baited

One of the juvenile Ravens perched on a fence near the Swinging Bridge, the light was challenging because it was filtered through the leaves of old Cottonwood trees creating dappled light on the fence and bird while the background of greasewood and Navajo sandstone was in full sun. Surprisingly I did not need to use any exposure compensation with this image or the following one to get nice detail in the dark plumage without blowing out the background.

Common Raven juvenile by the San Rafael River – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 314mm, natural light, not baited

This bird is easily identifiable as a juvenile Common Raven because of the short tail, the pink on the gape and the violet-blue eyes. I have images of Black-billed Magpie juveniles; also Corvids, with similarly colored eyes here. I’m not sure if other Corvid juveniles exhibit the same trait.

Mia McPherson, OntheWingPhotography.com

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Mia McPherson

Mia McPherson

Mia McPherson is a nature lover, wildlife watcher and an avian photographer. Mia first become serious about bird photography when she moved to Florida in 2004. Her recent move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and photographing them. With so many birds species there easily accessible it wasn’t long before she was hooked. By learning more about each species, she can anticipate their behaviour and create opportunities to obtain ever better images of those species.

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