In 16 years of photographing birds I’d only seen a Wilson’s Phalarope chick once and that guy was half-grown. Three days ago at Bear River MBR I photographed phalarope chicks that were much younger.

They weren’t easy subjects to photograph well. They were far away and their tiny fuzzy bodies were very difficult for my active focus point to lock on to. As a result, many of my photos of them were noticeably soft and I never once had enough depth of field to get all of the birds in the frame sharp.

But they were phalarope chicks and I was so excited about finding them I had to share a few photos.


I got lots of high-quality photos of individual adult phalaropes but this isn’t one of them. You’re about to see why I’m including it.

The only reason I took this photo is because I was curious about what the male phalarope was doing. His normal feeding behavior changed as he poked around the edge of this green island in a large body of very shallow standing water. He wasn’t picking tiny insects off of the grasses as I’d seen him and other phalaropes doing. His behavior was curious but hard to explain. It was just different than it had been.



A different crop of the same photo begins to explain his behavior. Sharp eyes will notice three tiny reddish chicks hidden in the grasses in front of him. The chicks were cautiously making their way down to join their dad.



Here we see two of them. I don’t know why but their reddish color surprised me.



Dad began to make his way to another island about 20′ out of frame to our left as he encouraged his youngsters to follow him.



Just look at the size of those feet. I can’t imagine how they avoid tripping on them.



They were obviously nervous about crossing the very shallow open water to reach the relative safety of other island. A static photo doesn’t show it very well but these little guys were usually running. The chick on the right looks like it’s about to topple over, maybe because of its huge feet.



Finally, they reached the muddy shore of the other island. That’s dad at lower left.



This is the last I saw of these three chicks. Almost immediately they disappeared into the grasses and never came out again while i was there. I was so very lucky to catch them in transit.



But there was a Tail-end Charlie bringing up the rear that I hadn’t seen until just about the time this photo was taken. That little guy joined the other three and disappeared in the grasses.

I couldn’t believe how tiny those chicks were. I usually couldn’t even see them with the naked eye. To spot them I’d have to look through my viewfinder again and even then I sometimes couldn’t find them.

Tracking them and getting them sharp was even harder.



PS – Late yesterday afternoon, after hours of fiddle-farting around and many attempts at pulling out hair I don’t have, I finally figured out what was going on with my primary computer and managed to solve the problem. So it’s looking like it won’t be going into the shop, at least not anytime soon.




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Journalist specialized in online marketing as Social Media Manager. I help professionals and companies to become more Internet and online reputation, which allows to give life to the Social Media Strategies defined for the Company, and thus immortalize brands, products and services. I have participated as an exhibitor in various forums nationally and internationally, I am the author of several articles in digital magazines and Blogs.


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