As you approach the auto loop after a 12 mile drive from the headquarters, there's usually a couple of these old boys waiting around on the Bear River to greet you. We got to watch one feeding just outside the refuge headquarters on our way out. (He was ignoring the huge carp--24 inches or more--that were spawning along the edge of the water and scooping up frogs and small fish the carp were disturbing.)
American White Pelicans
Two birds I will always associate with the Bear River Refuge are the Western Grebe and the Clark's Grebe.
See the difference? If not, that's okay, apparently they have a difficult time too. There is a cross between the two species on occasion. That's not why they remind me of Bear River, however. The first time we visited they were going through their full mating ritual consisting of a pair performing a side-by-side head bobbing and weaving that was better than any program performed by a synchronized swimming team ending with a foot race across the surface of the water. Amazing!
(BTW, if you didn't notice, the Western's black on the head extends BELOW the bright red eye while the Clark's Grebe's does not. It's eye is surrounded by white.)
Snowy Egrets are common along the Jersey shore so this is not an unusual bird for me. I saw dozens and dozens last April in Cape May. Still, it's a beautiful bird in the reeds with the blue water behind it. And a photobombing White-faced Ibis, too!
White-faced are rare in the east and Glossy are rare in the west. For years I didn't realize that and spent wasted time trying to figure out if I was seeing a white-faced or glossy when visiting Bear River (There's a 99.5% chance that it would be a White-faced.) And vice-versa for the east coast.
Here's a photo of the White-faced Ibis with it's obvious white spectacles. Note the long curved bill to probe the mud with.
Loud, brilliantly colored and numerous, that's the Yellow-headed Blackbird. It occupies the same niche as the Red-winged Blackbird of the east and, in fact, is slipping eastward a little more each year. It's "song" is not nearly as pretty as the Red-wings but what it lacks in musicality, it more than makes up for in volume. (Kind of like the drunk leaning against the piano.)
And numbers. It seemed like every 10 square yards (that's a little over 3 x 3) contained a nesting pair with one very loud male advertising his claim to territory and female.
One of the few teal that doesn't migrate to the far north to breed, the Cinnamon Teal is also one of the more brightly colored of the ducks. There were hundreds of pairs of them on the waters of the refuge.
I try not to take pictures through the windshield of the Tundra, curvature of the glass, glare, reflection, bug bodies, etc, usually spoil the picture. But these American Avocets just wouldn't get to the side of the road and stay in camera distance, so I gave it a try. Sigh. Add the heat off the road and a few million midges flying about.
Black-necked Stilts and their long, bony, very pink legs. 'Nough said. (BTW, I just noticed the blue legs on the Avocet above. Weird.)
This was the first time in a long time I saw some Wilson's Phalaropes. These small birds just slightly larger than a robin will swim rapidly in circles stirring up the mud on the bottom of shallow pools and ponds and then snatch out any insects or worms they kick up. Their color is very subtle with a reddish blush on the neck and upper chest to go with the red on the sides of the neck. They also have a white stripe that runs from the top of their head down to their back which you can almost see in the second photo.