Utah County Birders Newsletter
March 2013

    March Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    Captains Log
    Bird of the Month
    Field Trip Report
- East Bay, Provo
Backyard Bird of the Month
    February Hotline Highlights
Newsletter is now Online Only


Thursday, March 14th, 2013 - 7:00 PM

Kristen Ellis, a graduate student at BYU, will be presenting her master's thesis work titled "Snowy Plover Nest Survival and Habitat Use in Utah" at our March meeting.

Meet at 7:00 PM at the Orem Public Library - 58 North State Street, Orem.  We meet downstairs.

Note - meetings will be held at the Orem Public Library while the Bean Museum is under construction.


16 March 2013 (Sat): Skipper Bay & Airport Dike. 1/2 day trip - Led by Bryan Shirley. Meet at 8 AM at the Skipper Bay Trailhead.  Drive to the west end of Provo Center Street, before entering the State Park turn right, then turn left at the T.

30 March 2013 (Sat): South Utah County.  1/2 day trip - Led by Dennis Shirley. Meet at 7 AM at the Walmart in Payson.

Possible future trip - I'm thinking about scheduling a weekend club field trip to Monterey or Half Moon Bay in August or September to go on a Pelagic birding trip, and I'd like to know how many people would be interested. Email keeli.marvel@gmail.com if interested. A list of potential trip dates and pricing can be found here http://www.shearwaterjourneys.com/schedule.shtml or http://www.montereyseabirds.com/.

We are actively recruiting people to lead local half-day field trips, any time, any place.  If you would like to lead a field trip or if you have any ideas for this yearís field trips, please contact Bryan Shirley at - bt_shirley@hotmail.com  

February Captains Log
by Keeli Marvel


The biomes at the Eden Project

The Bedruthan Steps on the Cornish coast

The sign post at Land's End. Only 3,147 miles to New York!

The most expensive pair of binoculars I've ever seen. Yes
that sign says 12,900 pounds. That's almost $20,000. You can purchase
them and pretty much anything else your heart desires, if you have the
cash, in the famous department store, Harrod's of London.

Birding England Part 2:

After we spent a couple of days relaxing and celebrating May Day in Padstow, UK, we set off on a series of day trips around the Cornish peninsula. Our first trip was to a place called The Eden Project, which is a series of biomes (big bubble-shaped greenhouses) where different climates and their representative plant communities have been grown. There are desert, rainforest, and temperate/Mediterranean biomes where you can see all kinds of different plant species and learn about how different cultures have evolved to live off those plant species, about some of the threats facing those habitats, and ways to live more sustainably. Outside the biomes there are also a series of gardens you can walk through, and a performance area where they hold concerts and other performances in the summer. In the gardens I got great looks at Blue Tits and Eurasian Goldfinches. Some wild birds had managed to get into the biomes, and inside I saw more Robins (the European kind), Blackbirds, and a great view of a Dunnock. The Eden Project is well worth the visit, and I highly recommend it to anyone traveling in the area.

Following our visit to the Eden Project, we returned to Padstow via the scenic route along the western coast, stopping at a place called the Bedruthan Steps. It is a site owned by the UK National Trust (sort of like our national monument or national park system). The cliff faces along the ocean here are very steep and drop off sharply into the ocean, and a series of really steep steps have been carved into the cliff face. The wind and the rain (which never really quit the entire trip) were picking up fairly well at this point, but I managed to find a few Swifts (single word name again) being blown about the cliff faces. We climbed down the very steep steps (not for the faint of heart) to the beach where I found a Rock Pipit hopping around among the rocks. Funny how that works! It was interesting to me to discover that they actually have not one, but four different species of pipits that occur regularly in the UK. Another interesting note is that the fluctuation in tides in several places along the southwestern coast of England is so great that there at the Bedruthan steps the beach actually disappears completely at high tide. It could definitely ruin your day if you lose track of the time and get stuck down there with the tide coming in!

Further up the coast from the Bedruthan Steps in a place called Watergate I saw some Whimbrels and Curlews (no fancy names here) in a small flock in a grassy field along the coast. One drawback of birding along country roads in England is that the roads are narrow and often bordered by large hedges, which makes pulling over to check out birds along the road both unsafe and often impossible.

Our next day trip we ventured out even further, starting the day at Landís End, the westernmost point in England. Landís End is a great place to see pelagic birds, and a few bird species, like the Great Black-backed Gull, are known to nest there. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the equivalent of our Audubon Society in the UK, has a permanent educational site set up at Landís End, and they were there with the scopes ready to point out some great birds for me. I got to see a European Shag, a species that is from the same family and closely resembling our cormorants, nesting Great Black-backed Gulls, a Wheatear (also called Northern Wheatear Ė a smallish thrush), Jackdaws (a smallish crow-like bird with a gray collar), and Starlings, which funny enough, are not doing so well in their native country. Maybe we need to export a few of ours back to bolster their population? My time at Landís End was limited, but I was told that during migration itís not uncommon to see some fantastic pelagic birds such as shearwaters, pomarines, and skuas there.

After Landís End we drove across the country to the opposite coast to visit St. Michaelís Mount, a small island off the east coast with a castle on it. Itís not often you can say you drove from the west coast to the east coast of a country in a single day! St. Michaelís Mount is another UK National Trust site and is accessed by boat at high tide or by a causeway that appears magically out of the water at low tide. Can you imagine if we had ocean tides on the Great Salt Lake, and our causeway disappeared under water a couple of times a day?! On the hike up a steep cobblestone path to the castle I heard, and then located, a Wren (no fancy names here either), and a few more species Iíd seen before.

Following our visit to Landís End, we made a couple more stops on the way back to Padstow, and I picked up a pair of White Wagtails at a place called Smugglerís Tavern on the River Fal.

After our brief stay in Cornwall, we traveled back to London for a couple of days and I didnít see any new species. Total trip species count was 43 species, about half of which were life birds, which all things considered is pretty good for a non-birding trip during the wettest spring the UK has seen in many years! If youíve read through this far, thanks for sticking with me! Next month Iíll hopefully have some great stories about birding in Iceland. Until then, hope to see you all out and about birding!


Bird of the Month

Photo by Bryan Shirley

Bohemain Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)
by Bryan Shirley

Bohemian Waxwings are one of my favorite winter birds in Utah. They are probably my favorite at least in part because of how hard I had to work to get my first one in Utah. I really started birding in Utah a little over 10 years ago. Every winter I would scour through every flock of Cedar Waxwings I could find hoping for a Bohemian, but never could find any. Bohemian Waxwings vary from rare or not even present some winters to fairly common other winters. I was in a stretch of ďrareĒ years and I tried for several years before I finally found one. The last few years have been much better for Bohemians, but this year is probably the best I have had in Utah. It seems like they are present in most flocks of Cedar Waxwings and lately I think I have a lot more Bohemians than Cedars!

Bohemian Waxwings are much larger than Cedar Waxwings. Sibleyís has the length as 8.25 inches, which is only 1 inch longer than a Cedar, but the weight is nearly double. Besides the obvious size difference, they have white and yellow markings on the wings and dark rufous undertail coverts, both characteristics that make them easy to ID. They form large flocks and resemble starlings when they are flying around. They are quite noisy and voice can be helpful in locating them.

If you havenít seen them around yet, get out quick because they will be leaving soon and who knows if they will be back next winter. They like fruit and berries, so orchards or areas with a lot of Russian Olives are good places to look. There was a flock seen at the Kuhni Wetlands on our field trip a couple weeks ago and there are a couple hundred along the road at the Goshen Warm Springs as of March 1st.

If you would like to write an article for the Bird of the Month, please contact
Eric Huish - erichuish@gmail.com

Click here for past 'Birds of the Month'.


Field Trip Report
East Bay, Provo
- February 18th, 2013
by Eric Huish

On Monday (Feb 18th) 13 Utah County Birders met for a field trip led by Keeli Marvel. We visited East Bay Golf Course, Kuhni Wetlands and the Provo Cemetery. We met at the East Bay Sam's Club parking lot where 30 Great-tailed Grackles greeted us.

Our first stop was at the cul-de-sac overlooking the night-heron island at East Bay Golf Course. Highlights here were Wood Ducks, Cinnamon Teal, Canvasback, Black-crowned Night-Herons and 3 Double-crested Cormorants. - Full Checklist here - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S13080455

We then walked down the trail along the canal into Kuhni Wetlands. There we got great looks at a flock of about a dozen Evening Grosbeaks. A little farther down the trail we found a flock of 60-100 Bohemian Waxwings. The waxwings gave us great views at eye level and as close as 10 feet away. We couldn't find a single Cedar Waxwing in the flock. In the pond at the end of the trail the American White Pelican and Greater Yellowlegs that had been reported earlier were still there. We also found a Hermit Thrush. Full Checklist here - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S13080454

Provo Cemetery was pretty slow. We saw a few Red-breasted Nuthatches and a flock of Cedar Waxwings flew over. Full Checklist - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S13080321


Backyard Bird of the Month

February 2013


Lyle Bingham - Payson

This was a big day at my feeder about 3 weeks ago Wednesday: - 25 Spotted Towhees, 4 Black-capped Chickadees, 3 Northern Flickers, 10 Juncos.  The Towhees are by favorite. I love how they dig through everything on the ground. And I dislike how they dump the contents of the feeder on the ground.


Yvonne Carter - Highland
It has been unusual to see our Northern Flickers hammering away in our feeders in the early mornings instead of the trees; it has been waking me up on the weekends. The feeder is on the level just below our second floor bedroom window!

Jeff Cooper - Pleasant Grove
My favorite backyard bird experience for February was when I found about five Bohemian Waxwings mixed in a small flock of Cedar Waxwings. I had seen small flocks of waxwings off and on for weeks, but I always came up empty when trying to find a Bohemian. Finally seeing them feeding in the flowering plum trees with the Cedars was a real thrill.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
White-winged Dove - saw it for a moment in the top of a tree in the across the yard.  Probably the same bird that visited last September and has been hanging out at some feeders down the street.

Keeli Marvel - American Fork
My backyard (front yard) bird of the month is a flock of about 20 Bohemian Waxwings. What a great year for this species!

Milt Moody - Provo
I've had a couple of Spotted Towhee with a little "spring" in their step, milling around under my feeders.

Carol Nelson - Provo
The male Hooded Merganser came back for a visit and brought with him four Ring-necked Duck pairs. The latter were my 76th yard species. Yeh!!

Leila Ogden - Orem
Mine has to be the Western Screech-Owl that has been coming to my owl box.

Cheryl Peterson - Provo
American Kestrel - first time one was actually in my yard and not perched on nearby telephone poles.

Leena Rodgers - Provo
Had a handsome American Kestrel hovering at my feeders just outside our glass patio door. First time ever to see one in our yard. Put on quite a show!

Kay Stone - Lehi
Jim Strong and I have been feeding peanuts to a pair of Western Scrub-Jays since about the first of October. We are Lehi neighbors.

Alton Thygerson - Provo
Spotted Towhee - Sometimes two of them.


Report your favorite backyard bird each month to Eric Huish at 801-360-8777 or erichuish@gmail.com

Newsletter Announcement.  The Utah County Birders Newsletter is now online only. 


We've decided to stop the regular paper "snail mail" version of the UCB Newsletter.  This will save our club on Printing, Postage and Paper.  If you would like an email notice each month when the Newsletter is posted online please send an email to Eric Huish at erichuish@gmail.com or subscribe to the ucbnet mailing list.  To subscribe to ucbnet just send an e-mail to ucbnet-subscribe@utahbirds.org


We are willing to print the online version of the newsletter and mail it out to anyone who still wants a paper copy or who doesn't have internet access.  If you know of anyone who enjoys the UCB Newsletter but doesn't have internet access please let Eric Huish or Keeli Marvel know and we will make sure they get a copy.