Memories of Otter Creek, Utah

Red-Breasted Merganser - Mergus serratorOne aspect of birding I enjoy is that if you have open eyes you can find birds in so many places. In late spring of 2015, while on my six-week Intermountain West expedition, I was driving north from Zion and headed for Bicknell Utah. It was a long drive and I was keeping my eyes open for places I could take a break from the road and spend time with my feet on the ground.

What caught my eye were hundreds of swallows sailing under a bridge crossing a fast flowing Otter Creek, just above its confluence with the East Fork of the Sevier River. The odds of capturing good images of swallows in flight are pretty low, but even that knowledge could not discourage me from the attempt.

The creek was flowing from a dam a short distance upstream, and when I finished with the swallows, I began exploring the lake waters above the dam and the spillway below. I didn’t find a wealth of bird-life on the waters of Otter Creek Reservoir, so I stopped at a nearby overlook and enjoyed the blackbirds and sparrows haunting the brushy shore.

While photographing these small birds, I noticed a Common Loon through the sun’s sparkling reflections on the lake below. Most of my encounters with loons have been at distances too great to capture quality images. Though this bird was still a bit far for my liking, it was closer than most of my encounters. The sunlight’s reflections eliminated the possibility of collecting a reasonable image from the position where I found myself. However, it was my good fortune that the bird was in a small cove with a drivable spit behind it, so I repositioned my Samurai on the spit and hoped the loon wouldn’t take off right away, and it didn’t.

My favorite encounters here were yet to come. I noticed a pair of Red-Breasted Mergansers below the spillway and I drove down to meet them. I parked by the water’s edge and sat quietly, using my ride as a blind. My luck held up and I got a few decent photos.

The gallery below and the associated map shows the subjects I captured and the locations where I caught them.

Click map markers to reveal further information