UTAH COUNTY BIRDERS
by Merrill Webb (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(This is the REAL story of the discovery of the Field Sparrow Lindon Marina)
When I arrived at the gate of the Lindon Marina that Saturday, January 9, I had already seen a lot of what I considered to be noteworthy birds for the new year list. I had seen the White Pelican at Utah Lake, the rails at Powell Slough and most of the waterfowl on the Geneva cooling ponds. I was hoping to see an unusual gull on the open water north of the marina, or a woodpecker in the woods to the east. So when I spished up some Tree Sparrows near the small stream leading into the lake I was surprised and pleased that I wouldn't have to travel out to Swede Lane to look for them there.
One of the sparrows didn't look quite like the other two, so I looked at it a little more closely. Luckily a Tree Sparrow was in the same field of vision so I could compare both in terms of coloring, wing bars and breast spots. As I looked at this one bird more closely I drew a total blank as to what it was. It had no breast spot, a light colored bill, an eye ring (of all things) and from my vantage point below the bird a smudgy, rust-colored crown. I watched it for less than a minute before it and the other birds flew away. I had left my field guides in the van so as I walked back toward the gate to get them I considered my choices. The only bird that I could think of was the Field Sparrow. I had seen it in New Jersey about five or six years ago, so it was pretty hazy in my mind. But when I checked out my Peterson's and the NGS fieldguides I was sure that was the bird I had seen. I didn't realize how rare in the state it was until after I had called Milton to tell him that I had a pretty good bird to report. I knew he would put it on the bird line and hoped that others would be able to find it and verify my identification. That night I looked at the Utah Latilong study that had been done in the 80's and found that it was an unverified bird in the state. So it has been gratifying that so many others have been able to see it and verify its existence. I have been birding in the state for more than thirty years, and aside from a Hooded Warbler I saw a number of years ago south of Pintura, this was my first verified state record.
I suspect that it came from the Colorado population, or maybe the Montana population. Perhaps there have been other times it has been in the state, but no one knew what kind of field marks to look for. At any rate it was certainly the top bird on my list for the day--and for the month.
by Darlene Amott (email@example.com)
It seems to be appropriate for the president of an organization to pen a few thoughts for whatever publication the organization might have. The two presidents who have preceded me have been masters of the art and have, Im sure, relished the opportunity. At the time I was asked to fill this position, I warned the group that writing was not my thing. I would rather "talk to" than "put on paper." Be warned! This might become a shared responsibility.
In spite of my reluctance, there is a thought, or rather a word, that has been on my mind since the day that Matt first talked to me about this position. I would like to share some ideas with you concerning that word. The word is "anticipation." Anticipation fills much of our life. We seem to be constantly looking forward to a coming something. It might be a visit, a trip, a special occasion, something new, or something uncertain. Needless to say the anticipation I have felt concerning this new position of mine has kept me on an emotional roller coaster. Ideas like "can I," "should I," "what if," or "if I do," caused a great deal of thinking and considering on my part.
Now that the deed is done, the anticipation is taking a new form. I am anticipating the fun of working with the other officers, the joy of becoming better acquainted with the members, and the continued excitement of new birding opportunities.
Right now I am anticipating a trip to Mexico. It is not a birding trip, per se, but I anticipate being able to do some birding in the Yucatan and in Belize. I have my books and binoculars on top of the pile of stuff. The trip will keep me away from the next meeting, but I anticipate giving some kind of report on my return. There will be other trips, (like the one to Hawaii in March), other field trips, and other quick looks, for all of us, so I anticipate a busy and profitable time. Lets share our anticipation with one another and make this a top notch birding year.
by Robin Tuck (firstname.lastname@example.org)Peek-a-boo, I see you ...
My hints finally made it home this year, and Julie gave me what I wanted for Christmas. My kids laughed but they too knew it was exactly what I wanted, a duck blind.
Yup, Julie gave me a duck blind for Christmas. This one is a simple affair about 5 feet on a side and perhaps 4 feet high with a top that clips on. With a wave of both arms, the blind folds down to a 2 foot disk, which fits in the back of my car with ease. What a neat gift. I immediately went out and bought two folding chairs that fit inside so both Julie and I could sit together viewing birds all but undetected.
The first time I set the blind up with the chairs, it felt strangely like forts felt when I was a kid, intimate and cozy, protected from the world.
The first time I set it up to get good views of a bird was for the Field Sparrow at the Lindon Marina. It worked like a charm. We turned it so the door faced the bird and left the zipper door part-way open. Eric Huish and I sat in it until the sparrow showed up then we took pictures and watched to our hearts content. Julie was not pleased, time which went rapidly for us, had gone slowly for her. What seemed like 15 minutes was really an hour.
The next time Julie and I set it up was at Powell Slough where we went to see the Common Moorhen. When we drove up, coots and shovelers flew off in a burst of activity, hiding in the waterways out of sight. This was perfect for the blind, because we could sit in it and see the open water without being seen. After 10 minutes, the coots and shovelers came back, and then peeking around the edges came the moorhens. In all, we saw three of them.
The blind had proven itself. Now, admittedly, we probably could have sat there in the open and accomplished the same thing, but I believe the blind reduced the time it took for the moorhens to come out. Now, we will be looking for more opportunities to use the blind to get better views of the birds and, ultimately, to take pictures.
So, If you see a duck blind set up in a strange place, shhhhh. Julie and I will be engaging in some hard-core birding.
by Dennis Shirley
On Friday, January 15, 1999 our group went on its first 1999 planned field trip. Even though it was on a Friday and with short notice, thirteen enthusiastic Utah County Birders ventured forth. We left at 6:00 a.m. and arrived at BRMBR at about 8:20 a.m. It began raining lightly by the time we reached Ogden and rained off and on most of the morning.
At the Northwest corner of the refuge we met three Ogden birders Jack Rensel, Keith Evens, and Lee Shirley and two Salt Lake Birders Kent Lewis and Dave Thompson. Between all of us, we were able to separate four species of gulls (our target birds): California, Ring-billed, Herring, and Thayers. The Glaucous and Glaucous-winged Gull, seen in December, were not found. Several hundred gulls were widely scattered along the north and west sides of Unit 2. Gull identification is not easy, with the differences in year class plumages, and it takes lots of time and study to separate species. Sometimes after studying a bird in scopes and binoculars, you feel like taking a vote from the group on what it is; for instance, a 1st year Thayers vs 1st year Herring. Its not a sport for the quick and easy birder.
Because of the relatively mild winter January weather, BRMBR is still much more open and ice free this year. Large numbers of waterfowl are still hanging around, including several hundred Tundra Swans.
At noon we left the refuge, but instead of going straight back to Utah County, we made a short detour to the Ogden Nature Center on 12th Street in Ogden. A Harris Sparrow had been found earlier in the week coming into a feeder. With the able assistance of the Ogden Birders, we were guided to the feeder and, as luck would have it, got great looks at this Code 6 rare winter Utah visitor. It was a "lifer" for many of the group. There is nothing like a good guide and an exact spot to make finding a rare bird an easy task!
We arrived back at the Bean Museum at about 3:00 p.m., a little late for a half day trip; but we all know how time flies when youre having fun.
Participants: Eric Huish, Mary Lou Huffmon, Judy Jordan, Leena Rogers, Dennis Shirley, Lois Clark, Junece Markham, Bonnie Williams, Robert Brown, Reed Stone, Milt Moody, Tuula Rose, Kay Stone,
Great Blue Heron
Herring Gull (Code 4)
Thayers Gull (Code 6)
Harris Sparrow (Code 6)
Red Fox - identified by Lois as "a large Red Cat"
by Dennis Shirley
Saturday, January 23, 1999 found a dozen Utah County Birders up early and off for a day-long trip to northern Utah principally Cache Valley. We left a few minutes past 6:00 a.m. and, after a few quick stops along the say, arrived at a Pleastan Veiw residence in North Ogden, where Blue Jays and a Harris Sparrow had been seen off and on this winter. As Dennis luck would have it, no Blue Jays were seen. No Harris Sparrow either. But a Lewis Woodpecker greeted us as we passed through the gate of this private residential neighborhood.
It was then off to Brigham City and Maheurs Pond, where Barrows Goldeneye had been seen earlier in the week. Sure enough...a single drake was found mixed in a small flock of Common Goldeneyes. We were delighted to find this rare winter visitor (Code6); but little did we realize that later in the day we would see 50-55 Barrows Goldeneye (35 drakes, 17 hens) at 1st Dam on the Logan River east of Logan. this has to be some kind of a record group. Usually only one or a pair is seen. It was great to compare both drakes and hens up close with the Common Goldeneyes on the Pond.
After we left Maheurs Pond, we drove into Cache Valley and to the Mendon area to look for the Long-eared Owls which had been reported in the area. After searching several groves of trees unsuccessfully for about an hour, during which we found a pair of Great-horned Owls, we drove into west Logan, stopped at a convenience store and called Bob Atwood an active local birder who had reported the owls earlier in the month. He graciously agreed to take us to the spot, and after a short search, located a single bird perched at eye level in a thick, brushy stream-side thicket. Even when it was found, many of us had a hard time seeing the bird, even at close range. They are hard to see with their cryptic coloration.
Wood Ducks then became our target species. These were found at Willow Park in Logan, where three drakes and two hens were mixed in with a large flock of mallards.
After our trip to 1st Dam to see the Barrows Golden eye, it was then off to Smithfield and James Mack Park to look for Bohemian Waxwings, Evening Grosbeak, and again Blue Jays. Our luck held no luck and we didnt see these three birds. But we did find a pair of Dippers along the creek and a Winter Wren (Code 6) in a brushy area nearby. This was a first for many of us this winter.
It was now mid-afternoon and beginning to show, so we decided to leave Cache Valley. As we were traveling out of the valley on Highway 91, a bird was seen perched in a tree on the side of the road. It was one of those times when youre traveling along at 60 mph and you catch a quick glimpse of a bird as you go by it. We flipped around on the crowded highway, went back and sure enough, it was a beautiful dark blue/black taiga variety Merlin. It was the best looking Merlin many of us have seen this winter.
We then traveled on to the area around Willard Bay. There we found a pair of hen Hooded Mergansers (another Code 6) just north of the north Willard Bay dike. They were quite a ways away but were still easy to recognize by their distinctive head shape.
We ended our birding here about 4:00 p.m. We recorded 43 species, many of which were good winter target species.
Participants: Robin Tuck, Junece Markham, Alona Huffaker, Bob Parsons, Julia Tuck, Eric Huish, Tuula Rose, Lee Shirley, Jordan Tuck, Bonnie Williams, Reed Stone, Dennis Shirley
Wood Duck (Code 5)
Barrows Goldeneye (Cd 6)
Hooded Merganser (Cd 6)
Merlin (Code 4)
Great Horned Owl
Long-eared Owl (Cd 3)
Lewis Woodpecker (cd3)
Western Scrub Jay
Winter Wren (Code 6)
by Dennis Shirley
Saturday, January 30, 1999 dawned cold and clear as our group of birders headed for Wasatch County and Heber Valley. As we approached Deer Creer Dam, heavy fog set in and not sunshine greeted us as we entered the valley. But just as we approached the Interlaken development along the foothills north of Midway, the fog broke open and a bright sunny hillside awaited us. As we drove up to Jill and Alan Fuchs home, our target apecies Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch were circling in a flock over the homes. In short order, our group had great looks at the Cassins Finch and other winter birds at their feeder.
Wild Turkey, a large flock of Bohemian Waxsings, and a small herd of elk were seen at the Wasatch Mountain State Park. The pond at the visitor center had eight species of ducks on it, but nothing unusual.
By mid morning the fog around the reservoir was beginning to lift, but it was still misty enough to keep us from seeing very far across the surface. We did see Common Mergansers, but no Common Loons. A Northern Shrike was spotted from the highway near the entrance to Deer Creek State Park. Tricky maneuvering on this very narrow highway brought our vehicle precariously parked where no pull off existed. But it was worth it! To many this was a life bird!
We continued down Provo Canyon and detoured up the North Fork to Sundance and Georgene Butlers mountain home. She has a great location for feeding birds and has been doing so for several years. We werent disappointed. Our list here included Stellers Jay, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Mountaoin Chickadee, and Evening Grosbeak, our target bird.
Our list of 35 species seen for the day included four Code 4 uncommon winter birds the target birds of the day. Sometimes its better to be lucky than good!
Participants: Robin Tuck, Julia Tuck, Kay Stone, Reed Stone, 3 BYU Coeds, Bonnie Williams, Alona Huffaker, Darlene Amott, Tuula Rose, Robert Brown, Bob Parsons, Leena Rogers, Maurice Stocks, Carol Jean Nelson, LeIla Ogden, Eric Huish, Lana Stocks and Dennis Shirley.
Great Blue Heron
|by Dennis Shirley
Bear River MBR
|Common Permanent, CP
|Common Summer, CS
|Common Winter, CW
|Common Transient, CT
|Uncommon Permanent, UP
|2 (Wild Turkey)
|Uncommon Summer, US
|Uncommon Winter, UW
|1 (Herring Gull)
|Uncommon Transient, UT
|Rare Permanent, RP
|1 (Wood Duck)
|Rare Summer, RS
|Rare Winter, RW
|Rare Transient, RT
Junece -373-2487; Eric - 785-3478; Milton - 373-2795
13 Jan 99 - Not rare, but fun to see. Saw a Common Loon on the north end of Deer Creek Resourvoir. Caren Brerton
15 Jan 99 - The UCB field trip reported seeing Herring Gulls, Thayers Gulls and several hundred Tundra Swans at Bear River MBR. They also saw a Harris Sparrow at the Ogden Nature Center. (see the report in this newsletter for details). Dennis Shirley
23 Jan 99 - This is an experiment. I've attached a photo of a bird my wife and I can't identify at our feeder in Holladay this morning. I don't know if the bird mailing list will accept photos. The photo's not that great because it's off of a video. The bird has a yellow wash, which doesn't show up in the photo, and it appears to have only one wing bar. Not much of an eye ring, and the beak looks like an oriole. (Female Western Tanager) Jim Bailey
23 Jan 99 - The UCB Field trip to Cache Valley, reported Lewis Woodpecker, Barrows Goldeneye, Long-eared Owl, Wood Duck, Hooded Merganser, Merlin and a Winter Wren (see the report in this newsletter for details). Dennis Shirley
27 Jan 99 - Turkeys in South Fork of Provo Cyn. About 4 miles up on the east side behind the house with the ponds on the south side. About noon.; Common Snipe feeding at "Snipe Sprs." East of Stauffers outlet store in south part of East Bay, Provo. Reed Stone
28 Jan 99 - There was a flock of 35 Bohemian Waxwings in the Provo Cemetery in the afternoon on Thursday January 28. Alona Huffaker
30 Jan 99 - The UCB Field trip to Wasatch County reported Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, Wild Turkey, Bohemian Waxwinds, Northern Shrike, Evening Grosbeak among a bunch of more common birds. (see the report in this newsletter for details) Dennis Shirley
1 Feb 99 -We (the Messinger family) were aimlessly wandering about the Cache Valley for a few hours yesterday morning looking at birds. We just happened to stop at James Mack Park in Smithfield for a few minutes around noon.
We hadn't been there for more than five minutes when some nice folks stopped and asked "if we had had any luck." They said there had been a Blue Jay there on Saturday, but that they had not been able to locate it.
For ten minutes or so after the nice folks who told us about the Blue Jay had left, we fanned out across the park just to see what was there.
The call of a Blue Jay soon had us trotting back across the park converging on the thick brush and trees beside the stream. We saw two Blue Jays there, so decided that was a great location to eat lunch. Before we left, we saw three Blue Jays simultaneously. Jim Messinger
3 Feb 99 - Barrow's Goldeneyes and Greater Scaups are still at Mayor's Pond in Brigham City. The pond got its name from a former mayor of the city who designated the pond for fishing for kids 15 and under. Red Crossbills are still at the Ogden Cemetery. Sharon Andrus
3 Feb 99 There were three male Cinnamon Teal and two females at Salem Pond (check the small ponds north of the main pond too). Also at Utah Lake State Park he saw a 1st year Herring Gull along with an adult. Dennis Shirley
3 Feb 99 - This afternoon I saw an adult swan and two immatures at the pond were the Great Egret nested last year. They appeared to be Trumpeters because I couldn't detect any yellow on it like a Tundra would have. Unfortunately, I don't have a scope. Please e-mail me if anyone sees these birds. Cheryl Peterson
4 Feb 99 - The UCB field trip to Alta and Dimple Dell reported Gray-drowned Rosy-Finch, Hairy Woodpecker, Cassins Finch, and Clarks Nutcracker at Susan Thomas feeder in Alta, Little Cottonwood Canyon. (see the field trip report in next months newsletter) Dennis Shirley
8 Feb 99 - This morning there was a Thayer's Gull at the Utah State Park. It was sitting on the ice in the harbor, along with some Herring, California and Ring-billed Gulls. Also, there was a Double-crested Cormorant flying in the area south of the south jetty. Cheryl Peterson
8 Feb 99 - The Field Sparrow was still at Lindon Boat Harbor at approximately 12:30 on Monday, February 8th. Readily observable in the company of Dark-eyed Juncos at the west end of the marshy area immediately southwest of the gate. Tom Williams
"This is an experiment. I've attached a photo of a bird my wife and I can't identify at our feeder in Holladay this morning. I don't know if the bird mailing list will accept photos. The photo's not that great because it's off of a video. The bird has a yellow wash, which doesn't show up in the photo, and it appears to have only one wing bar. Not much of an eye ring, and the beak looks like an oriole." Jim Bailey (Holladay; 23 Jan, 6:04 PM)
"My wife dug out her master birding book and thought it might be a gray phased female Western Tanager, but the beak appears to be to oriole-like. It is noticeably bigger than the house finches, but smaller than a robin. The top of its beak is dark gray & the bottom is yellow. The bird is mostly gray, but the underside has a definite yellow wash. The undertail coverts are markedly yellow. I have about one minute of video on the bird. I also have other stills taken from the video, but hey don't show a heck of a lot more. It has a definite exclusive preference for the suet. Where's Mark Stackhouse when you need him? I am attaching another photo, but it probably won't help. This one's definitely out of focus, but it gives a good profile." Jim Bailey (Holladay; 23 Jan, 9:16 PM)
"Jim Bailey's wife got it right, the bird looks like a female Western Tanager to me. The second photo actually was more of a help because you could see the bill. Nice Record." Steve Summers (Cedar City; 23 Jan, 9:06? PM)
"I agree with Steve Summer's call, it looks like a female Western Tanager to me. Because of the remarkable time of year, I was wondering if it might be another type of tanager or oriole. After all, if you're already lost, why not be REALLY lost. Few people realize that that is the reason men don't like to ask for directions - if you're going to be lost, you might as well do it right. Seriously, birds which appear to be common species out-of-season should be checked extra carefully, as birds which are well out of range often show up out-of-season as well. However, the presence of an obvious wing-bar, along with the tanager bill and overall dull color, makes it unlikely that it's anything other than a Western Tanager." Mark Stackhouse (Salt Lake City, 25 Jan, 2:09 PM)
"By now, I'm sure you're getting tired of looking at this bird, but this particular photo from last week is date stamped for posterity. By the way, she's still visiting our suet feeder. I saw her about an hour ago." Jim Bailey (Holladay, 30 Jan, 3:45 PM)
Wednesday, February 17th, Bean Museum Auditorium, topic "to be announced." (When Februarys Meeting is firmed up, well let you know, by Birdnet and Phone Tree).