Utah Bird Trip Summary & Photos
July 31st - August 5th '06
During the first week of August my husband and I went to Salt Lake City, Utah. We stayed in the Ogden area which is just north of SL City. He was there for business but it also gave me the opportunity to do some birding in a state I had not been to before, as well as bird with the local Wasatch Audubon Society. We were able to do some sightseeing at the end of the work day and took some pretty drives through the mountains as well as going horse riding one afternoon.
The first birding I did was in the late afternoon on arriving when we took a quick drive up to Snowbasin Mt. near the town of Huntsville. It seemed so quiet everywhere but Cedar Waxwings, Chipping sparrows, lots of Swallows, Magpies and Broad-tailed hummingbirds were around.
The next day I birded just a block away from our Bed and Breakfast along the "Winter Grove Nature Trail". The morning had been raining but by lunchtime I was able to head down the trail. It skirted the grassy habitat around Pineview Resevoir and had a nice variety of birds including Osprey, Red-tailed hawk, lots of Varied Buntings, Loggerhead Shrike, Belted Kingfisher, American Goldfinch, Black-capped Chickadee, Western Grebe, Tree and Barn Swallows, Yellow Warbler, Western Wood Peewee, Lots of Gray Catbirds, Flickers, Black-headed Grosbeak and Bewick's Wren, to name a few. We eventually traveled the road all around Pineview resevoir which was very pretty & surrounded by mountains. I also visited Rainbow Gardens for a short hike as well as Powder Mt just north a little and where I had several Mountain bluebirds.
The highlight of my birding was my visit to Antelope Island, America's Dead Sea, where I had planned on going and came to find out that the local Wasatch Audubon were, very conveniently, having their mid week outing there during our stay! I had contacted a couple of members of the Audubon for information a few days prior and met them at 7 am at the local McDonalds for breakfast, before car-pooling with them to the island. As we drove over the causeway leading to the island the scenery was beautiful, the mountains on the island reflecting into the perfectly still salt lake. The lake itself is approximately five times saltier than the ocean and you can float in its waters (if you choose to swim!). Brine shrimp & flies can survive the salinity of the lake, along with some species of algae, and is a major food source for the four to six million birds that nest and feed here. The shallow lake was absolutely covered with probably the most California Gulls I have ever seen! As far as the eye could see was just a mass of white. The wetlands here support the worlds largest nesting population of California Gulls. Other birds along the causeway included White-faced Ibis, Western Kingbirds, an escaped Ring-necked Pheasant, Black-necked Stilts, Killdeer, Western Meadowlark, Willet, American Avocet, Wilson's phalarope, Western Sandpipers, Eared Grebe, Long-billed Curlew, Franklins Gulls, Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows and a single Bank Swallow sitting amongst them on the rocks.
On entering the 28,000 acre island a few of the other birders ahead of us had already located my target bird - The Chukar! Antelope Island is THE place to find them! Sure enough, it was only a few minutes before the members of our car spotted one, and then about a dozen or so flew up into the air! I had great looks at several perched on some rocks and it was a nice, easy lifer to get! (Thanks guys!).
The rest of the afternoon was spent birding around the "Fielding Garr Ranch" which represents 135 years of ranching history. The Ranch house was built in 1848 and is the oldest Anglo-built house in Utah. A small oasis of trees with a stream running beneath them and the surrounding area attracted several birds which including Red-winged Blackbird, Mourning Dove, Lark Sparrow, Black-chinned, Rufous and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Western Wood-Peewee, Orange-crowned warbler, American goldfinch, Black-headed Grosbeak, Western Tanager, American Robin, Barn Owl, Warbling Vireo, Brown-headed Cowbird and Sage Thrasher. Other birds just outside of the ranch and over the rest of the island included Prairie and Peregrine Falcons, American Kestrel, Northern Harrier, American White Pelicans, Swainson's Hawk, Brewer's Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Sage Thrashers & Burrowing Owl.
It was a great day trip and the birders were wonderful and very helpful. Thanks again to all of you for making it such a pleasant day!
One of the mornings we took a drive through the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, North of Ogden near Brigham City. We weren't there very early so probably missed many of the birds but were able to add a few species including Coot, House Finch, more White Pelicans and Stilts, Tree and Barn swallows, Sandhill Cranes, Pied-billed Grebe, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Western and Eastern Kingbird.
Other drives up into the mountains gave me Common Nighthawk, Violet-green Swallow, Yellow Warbler, Red-tailed and Swainson's Hawks. I had a total of 81 species for the trip and it is always nice to see those birds that, even though they may not be new, are species that you don't see too often or during summer in Texas. Of course the Chukar was the highlight! But then again, both my husband and I DID get another lifer - A moose! We have always wanted to see a moose and on our very last day driving down and out of the mountains after going horse back riding, we headed toward Salt Lake City on, I believe Hwy 65 & 80, when we passed a golf course with a lake. There on the side of the lake we saw the large brown beast! After screeching to a halt and reversing back up we jumped out of the car and sure enough - there was our Moose! A big male laying on the bank of the lake and the two ears of a female just poking out of the grass sitting behind him! We were thrilled! It was the perfect way to a great trip!
Enjoy the photos :-)