Utah County Birders Newsletter
February 2003

Feburary Meeting:

Wednesday, February 26th.
Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.

Our program will be presented by Robert Walters, DWR wildlife
biologist. He will discuss the Bald Eagle, it's status, winter populations,
conservation, and future management goals. He will also give an update
on the Watchable Wildlife activities upcoming this spring and summer -
including the Snow Goose Festival - Feb28-Mar1,2003.

Come and join us, it'll be fun.


Our next field trip will be to Delta for the Snow Goose Festival
Time and date will be announced at the meeting and posted on the birdnet

Reed's Ramblings
by Reed Stone

I thank Utah County Birders for their confidence in me. As some of you know I was appointed the first "Chairman" of the birding group. Robin Tuck was the "engine", the expediter, and still is, although he tries to be somewhat obscure.
   We have had many great leaders and a strong support group.  I am amazed and pleased how the UCB has grown and developed. It has been interesting to look back at some of the developments that have taken place.
Our communications have gone from telephone tree to E-mail and the web. We have gone from no communication between vehicles, to CB radios with the antenna on the roof and a tangle of wires, to the handy family band CB’s.
   The monthly news letter is another improvement for communications.
   I think of the people we have met, the friendships that have developed, in our UCB group as well as individuals from other birding groups in the state.
   I am impressed with the number of travelers (birders) making contact with us to seek out Utah birds.
   We look foreword to new challenges. With time, technology and innovative ways we will broaden our horizons, find some more interesting places for our tours, make more friends, have more interesting speakers, find lots of BIRDS and hopefully some lifers. It takes everyone. We are open to suggestions.
Have a great year!

Dennis' Droppings
by Dennis Shirley

There's a fundamental similarity among all birders no matter where we"re from. I just finished an entertaining book written by a Brit {Mark Crocker} about birding and birders in the United Kingdom, Birders - Tales Of A Tribe.
   We all love stories! In fact, a big part of our birding experiences wouldn't mean as much without the tales that go with them.  And this book certainly spins a few for sure.
   Most stories involve other birders and of course a bird in one way or another. Most are humorous. Some have good endings. Others not so good. But all usually find their way in the anecdotes of birders droppings for years to come.
   Wild goose chases have a special meaning to birders. Doubly so if in fact it just happens to be a real goose you're after. My "slam dunk" Ogden CBC end of the Big Year "snow goose" fit this to a "tee." I was assured a missing 2002 "blocker"{as they say in England} if I would just come up to a North Ogden golf course early the next morning. So I was there at first light, found the two white geese feeding on the 16th fairway with a large flock of Canada's, and almost didn't take a second look. But I felt like I should at least watch them for a minute since I'd got up early and driven up the Wasatch front during morning rush hour
   You know the rest of the story, but let me fill you in on the details. NO they were not snow geese but instead Ross's geese, actually a less common species, and one the Ogden CBC had not recorded before. That softened the blow somewhat for the counters, but I was told not to worry because another "snow goose" {don't ya get tired of quotations} was found on a pond on
12th Street.So off I went, spirits rising, with the prospects again of adding a last minute desperate tick to my year list. It was not to be! Again the flock of Canada's were found, and sure enough a white goose was there. But alas, this one was as big as its dark cousins, had a large bright orange bill, and no black what so ever in it's wing tips. When I flushed the flock the totally white, B-52 sized, goose was able to get off the water by using all of the lake surface as its runway. As it flew off to catch up with its wild counterparts, it cried a most un-goose like squawk, more like a black-crowned night heron, which I think even the Ogden birders wouldn't call it that!
   They say given enough time just about any instance will turn out amusing. It didn't take but a few miles back down the freeway before I began to lighten up.
   The things that laughs are made of!

"Texas Birds and Glowing Lights"
by Ned C. Hill

Through my assignment at BYU I frequently travel to visit Marriott School of Management alumni, employers and donors. On January 31st Maurice Stocks (who is getting into birding and who is my Assistant Dean) and I visited the University of Texas at Austin and addressed the Austin chapter of our Management Society. Our old friend Rob Fergus, formerly a very active birder in Provo, is now a student at UT-Austin and director of the Austin Audubon Society. He offered to take us birding on Saturday morning, February 1st, before we had to catch an afternoon flight back to Utah.
   Rob picked us up at our hotel at 6:00 a.m. and we headed into the farm country an hour north of Austin. We were looking for wintering rarities such as longspurs, sparrows and Mountain Plover. Just before 8:00 am with the help of the Austin hotline, we located the reported "mega field" where more Mountain Plovers were congregated than anyone had ever seen before in
   Since only about 12,000 individuals are estimated to exist in the entire world population, finding over 100 (nearly 1%) of them in one place was quite a treasure. We set up our scopes and got very good but distant looks at these elusive shorebirds. They are like Killdeer without the black bands.
   As we were congratulating ourselves on our good fortune, Maurice called our attention to an exceptionally bright silver-gold object with a long contrail moving across the bright blue northwest sky just in front of us. A "flying saucer" he joked. "That's as bright as the space shuttle when it comes in," said Rob. "It can't be," I said, "look how it's starting to break up. Must be some kind of 'space junk' falling out of orbit."
   The contrail showed evidence of "puffs" coming from the object as if small explosions were occurring. First one bright piece broke off then another. By the time it was well across the sky, the whole object broke into at least seven or eight glowing pieces--all silently moving together in a cluster like a bit of glowing firework. As the cluster moved away from us, it gradually dimmed and finally faded out. Amazed with our luck in finding the plovers and an unusual celestial phenomenon, we climbed back into Rob's car and explored other fields--finally coming across a large flock of McCown's Longspurs.
   Then my cellphone rang. It was my son Jonathan calling to tell us of the news bulletin from Texas: the Space Shuttle Columbia had broken apart on re-entry and all seven astronauts perished. A cold feeling of deep sorrow washed over us as we realized that we had been eye-witnesses to that very event just minutes before. The silver-gold object that had so
captivated us was not just "space junk" falling to earth but the final moments in the heroic lives of six Americans and one Israeli--real, live people who had just perished before our eyes.
   This sobering thought made us reflect on our own mortality. There are no guarantees of longevity for any of us. It also brought to mind the high costs of exploration that are sometimes extracted from those who push the fringes of knowledge. Delving into the unknown is risky--even if one is just exploring for rare birds. With only subdued discussion, we almost
reverently drove back to our hotel pondering the events of the day. We felt sadness in our hearts for the families of those left behind and we felt renewed gratitude for our lives, our families, our faith and our beautiful world.

Access to Wildlife Lands in Utah Guide
by Robin Tuck

I love maps. I have so many that I must be a ‘map junkie’. Interestingly, many other birders I know are ‘map junkies’ as well.
Every now and then, I actually pull out a map and study it, looking for a new hot birding spot. At these times, I invariably come upon a place like ‘Howard Slough WMA,’ a place I don’t think I have ever been to but would like to visit. In fact, as I look at the maps, I find a lot of ‘WMA’ places that I know nothing about. The map tells me it is there, but little else.
   Several times, I have loaded the car and headed out to find out for myself just what is out there, often only to be disappointed because I didn’t know what to expect.
   Last year, I stopped in at the Utah Division of Wildlife building at the state fair and leafed through their literature and came upon a new publication that answers my ‘WMA’ questions, titled “Access to Wildlife Lands in Utah, a guide to visitor use on lands administered by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for fish and wildlife habitat”.
   This guide dedicates a page to each of the 121 Wildlife Management Areas in Utah with a map and a description of how and when to get access and what can be done while there. Of course, the guide makes it worse for me, because now that I know what is out there, I want to visit each of the sites to see what I can see.
   The 144-page Access to Wildlife Lands in Utah guide is available for $9.95, plus tax, at Division of Wildlife Resources offices in Ogden, Springville, Vernal, Price and Cedar City. It's also available in Salt Lake City at the Natural Resources Map & Bookstore, 1594 W. North Temple.
   The guide uses icons, such as a silhouette of a wading bird to indicate the possibility of finding shore birds at the WMA. While the icons do not give important details about what birds might be there at the different times of the year, the information given would be useful to birders wanting to find new places to visit.

Origin and meaning of the club emblem
by Robin Tuck, Founder Utah County Birders

A short while after the club was formed, a handful of members gathered in Merrill Webb's Provo High classroom to discuss club issues. Feeling that we needed to have a club emblem and patch, I asked the group what bird we ought to use on the emblem.
   I proposed a Black-capped Chickadee and Flora Duncan suggested the Black-billed Magpie. Flora said that the Magpie was common in Utah County and was quite handsome in its glossy black with blue and green overtones and bright white. Altogether four birds were suggested. I passed small papers around and took a secret vote and the Magpie won.
   I did not want the Magpie but Merrill looked me in the eye and asked "are you going to override the vote?"
   The vote stood.
I asked those present to propose a patch design. Over the next several weeks, I received two designs, and I chose the one from Lois Clark, consisting of the outline of Utah County with Utah Lake drawn in. To the left of the lake, Lois drew the map symbol for the magnetic declination, a line pointing to the North Star with another line pointing in the direction of magnetic north. On the right side of the lake, Lois continued the theme of the magnetic declination with a series of colored bands. The Magpie was then superimposed on the county outline completing the patch.
   Over the months that followed, I tried to find a suitable picture of a Magpie, even resorting to searching some out and photographing them.
   Ultimately, I copied and modified a picture from a field book. The realities of patch making with the limited number of thread colors, caused the Magpie to be done in solid black and white.
   Later, one of the birders asked me what the purpose of the colored bands were, since the county did not have colored bands like that. My answer was that they were artistic and put there to make the patch colorful and nice looking.
   Patches are available from Sylvia Cundick, the club Treasurer.