UTAH COUNTY BIRDERS
by Matt DeVries (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My wings have been clipped so to speak, and for the first time, I am questioning my commitment to birding. After all, would a dedicated birder have passed up a shot at a great life bird, just because there was no hospital nearby? Would a serious birder pack it up and go home simply because his glasses had been misplaced?
A list of my recent birding activities illustrates the degradation in the quality of my birding activities and has left me wondering: am I still a serious birder?
Perhaps the list will help answer the question:
Sundance: Went to Sundance looking for mountain birds. Beautiful day, ideal weather, great bird potential. Identified three species of bird before glasses were thrown into river by Ben. $100 per bird, could be worse.
Cedar Fort: Drove west of Lehi, identified 7 species of bird. Two of them while waiting for tow truck to arrive. Much better results than Sundance, though very hot.
Woodlands Hills: Found a beautiful male Evening Grosbeak; still identifiably despite recent encounter with a vehicle. While trying to see audible Hermit Thrush, must teach Ben lesson: not everything that comes from a horse is good. Lesson taught before ingestion.
Neighborhood walk: Several excellent species, including Cedar Waxwings. Ben tried to feed the Robins. Apparently rocks arent a normal component of their diet. Sure, it looked like he was throwing the rocks at them, but he really was trying to feed them. He just had to throw the rocks because he couldnt get close enough to hand feed them.
Day Hike: Feels like I am training for a pelagic trip. Constant motion of Ben in backpack is excellent simulation of using binoculars on choppy sea water. Should have brought dramamine. Ben frequently points out singing birds and eagerly grabs binoculars. I am amazed at how long I can stay conscious without oxygen.
Trip to Ouray: Canceled, unable to locate in-network Hospital within close proximity of refuge. Quest for Least Bittern temporarily abandoned.
Well, these are not exactly notes from Audubons journal. But, I think they have answered my earlier question: I must be either a serious birder or a complete nut. Is there a difference?
Editors Note: Good Luck!, to Matt and Pia who are expecting a new baby girl, sometime after the Birders Meeting on Thursday!
Mark Stackhouse, a prominent member of the Utah birding community, will be our speaker.
Annual Potluck Dinner
This years potluck dinner is tentatively set for Friday the 21st of August. Check next months newsletter for details.
by Robin Tuck (email@example.com)
I was thinking the other day about how different members of the bird club happened to get started into birding. I thought about the small part Julie and I had played several times, then my thoughts went back to an important person in my growing desire to know birds.
It was a church Father and Son picnic, and my kids were chasing around the pond, when I noticed Dan carrying his binoculars. I rushed over and asked him about them and what he was doing with them. He told me he enjoyed looking at birds and was going over to the river to look for some.
I ran to get my own binoculars and went with him. Soon, he pointed out a neat yellow bird flying out over the water then returning to its perch. It was a Yellow Warbler flycatching. Next he showed me a bright yellow and black bird, high in the tree tops, an American Goldfinch.
That was the push I needed. From there, I bought books and attended the Audubon meetings and went on field trips. When the Audubon group died then I helped on a couple Christmas Bird Counts, realizing how little I knew. From there, I started the Utah County Birders and held classes to teach me more.
I have receive great joy birding, and while I harbored a strong interest, it was Dan Bates that gave me that first push, and I thank him for it.
I know some of your stories, such as Matt and Rob Fergus. I have heard Matt talk about his start and of his appreciation for Rob.
Each of you had a start, often with someone special playing an important role. Sometimes it is good to go back and remember our roots.
The Utah Birds Web Site and Birdnet are Gradually Changing
The Bookstore is expanding. The scenery is changing. The Birdnet action is slowing a bit this time or year, but were still getting interesting reports. You can sign for the Birdnet on the web site at www.utahbirds.org or send an e-mail with "subscribe" as the Subject (without quotes), to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any question on how to sigh up, phone 373-2795.
Report of Field Trip to
by Ned C. Hill (email@example.com)
Utah County Birders, 15-17 May 1998
At 6:00 a.m. on May 15th, 18 Utah County Birders joined by 3 Salt Lake birders headed into one of the least birded areas in Utah: the Southeast. For the first time, all cars in our caravan were equipped with family band radios so we could more easily communicate with each other along the way. Robin Tuck was instrumental in evaluating communication alternatives and helped us secure 7 radios. As we concluded our opening prayer, the rain started to fall and we escaped Provo before the serious downpour began.
Our first stop was close to home: Diamond Fork. Here we stopped at the Camp Diamond campground and heard a Yellow-breasted Chat calling to us as we emerged from our cars. Most of us got a good look at this largest warbler in North America with its variety of whistles and scoldings. Yellow Warblers were everywhere as well as Black-headed Grosbeaks. We found an Orange-crowned Warbler and heard the rich song of a Fox Sparrow that finally came out in the open for us. An American Dipper fed in the stream. The buzz of a Western Wood Peewee was heard briefly in the scrub oak and hummingbirds (Broad-tailed and Black-chinned) zoomed overhead. At Soldier's Summit, Mountain Bluebirds were found on fence posts and an American Pipit flew up calling its name. A flock of Pinyon Jays turned out to be Brown-headed Cowbirds on closer inspection and a Rock Wren called from the rocks on the hill. At Price we parked at a shopping center and found a trail that led along the river. Here we found a flock of creamy Cedar Waxwings and spotted a beautiful male Western Tanager. Pausing at Green River for lunch, we were entertained by nesting Western Kingbirds and abundant Bullock's Orioles. Near the river we found Spotted Sandpipers and heard several Common Yellowthroats singing from the reeds.
In Moab we birded first in the Matheson wetlands. Although it was the hot part of the day, we found Spotted Towhees scratching in the undergrowth and saw several American Crows. White-throated Swifts and Violet-green Swallows cavorted over the red rock cliffs above us. In the southern part of Matheson board walks and trails lead through a wonderfully wooded area with some marshy parts. Here we found Warbling Vireo, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Lazuli Bunting, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western Wood Peewee, Sora, Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron and American Coot. In the evening we headed south of Moab to Ken's Lake. In the fields around the lake we got great looks at Lark Sparrow and Horned Lark. On the lake we found Eared Grebe, Canada Goose and Ring-necked Duck. We enjoyed a delicious barbecue dinner at Pack Creek Canyon. In the surrounding sage we found a real flock of Pinyon Jays. On the grass in front of the dining hall, a flock of Pine Siskin swept in and out. We tried our hand at owling at Matheson that evening but managed to get only Common Poorwill to answer from the hillside. This was unexpected since Poorwills are not mentioned on the Matheson checklist. We spent the night at the Sleep Inna very nice, one-year-old motel on the south edge of town.
The next morning Milton Moody and Tom Kennedy joined up with us along with Dana Green and Sharon Coons from Salt Lake. We birded in Matheson again and found Wilsons and MacGillivrays Warblers, Plumbeous Vireo, Osprey (2), and Spotted Sandpiper. We then drove to Monticello where we saw the nearly completed Monticello Temple. Stopping for gas, our clever leader locked his keys in the car! Fortunately a nearby locksmith came to the rescue and we all drove to the fields east of the town to look for Sage Grouse. In a nearby pond we found Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, and Mallard. At the designated field, we formed a long line of somewhat equally spaced birders and walked across the tangled grass/sage field. We managed to scare up Brewers, Lark and Vesper Sparrows as well as a Short-eared Owl. After several hours, we converged back at the cars only to find that two in our group had seen a Sage Grouse flush just behind the line of people. The two were too far away to contact us and tell us. At least part of our group got to see the grouse.
We next headed south to Devil's Canyon to look for Utahs rarest nesting woodpecker. Just as we drove into the campground, Dana, Sharon and the DeVrieses saw a black woodpecker with white wing flashes bound across the highwayundoubtedly our target, Acorn Woodpecker. We scouted the area trying to re-find them. In the process we found Western Bluebirds and Graces Warblers, which were almost abundant. Lorene Wyss, a Salt Lake Birder who had seen the woodpeckers at this site last year, finally signaled to us that she had the birds down across the highway. We all scrambled down the rocky slope and crossed the road. The birds were frequenting a large dead pine tree on the east side of the road in a ravine. One finally flew to the top of the tree giving all an excellent look. For most of us this was at least a Utah first if not a life bird. Usually noisy when we have seen them elsewhere, these Acorns made no sound.
Then it was on to Blanding where we checked into the Comfort Inn. In the afternoon we converged on Jim Redds property just a mile south of the motel. He had found Utahs very first Scaled Quail coming into his yard all winter long. Unfortunately, he told us, he had not seen nor heard them for the past three weeks. We figured they were probably off nesting somewhere in the sage. Undaunted, we birded all over his property and that of his neighbors but could not find the quail. We did see White-faced Ibis, the usual desert sparrows mentioned above, and Western Meadowlarks (including one that flushed from a nest leaving two eggs and two tiny babies in a grass tunnel). Before getting in our cars we heard a Sage Thrasher call and a few in the group found a Northern Mockingbird. A Golden Eagle sat in a small tree just south of our motel. After a "fast" food dinner (that took an hour) most of us headed back up to Monticello to go owling. Our target was the rare Spotted Owl but we couldnt get the forest service to tell us where we might look. We had some hints but could not get to the east-west running canyons because of snow drifts blocking the roads. We settled for a beautiful grove of tall aspen trees mixed with evergreens and waited until dark. As the light lessened, we heard Hermit Thrushes calling all around us. At about 9 p.m. we played our Flammulated Owl tape. After several minutes, we could hear a very faint answer that seemed to come from a mile away. Then the answer grew louder. Soon an owl much smaller than its voice flew across the still lighted sky into a tree. We shined a flashlight on it and saw its dark eyes glowing deep red with reflected light. It quickly flew off calling. We could hear it for several minutes. We tried other owl calls but could not, by federal law, use a Spotted Owl call. Disappointed in not finding our main target, we were very happy to have seen an owl seldom seen by birders. For most in the group it was a lifer.
Sunday morning before Church, some of us went to the Blanding sewage ponds where we found a pair of Blue Grosbeaks feeding in the sagebrush. On or around the ponds were Wilsons Phalaropes, American Avocet, Killdeer, White-faced Ibis, Mallard, Cinnamon Teal, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Ruddy Duck, Redhead, American Coot, Ring-billed Gull, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Red-winged Blackbird and Western Meadowlark. After Church, some began the trip home and others drove south to Bluff where we birded a riparian area on the San Juan River. As we walked by a small barn, we found four baby Says Phoebes getting ready to fly. We saw American and Lesser Goldfinch, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Lucys Warbler, Yellow Warbler, and Yellow-breasted Chat. Matt DeVries reported seeing a Phainopepla fly into some underbrush and other reported hearing its characteristic whistles.
After a welcome lunch, we drove east towards the Colorado border to the Hovenweep National Monument. Our targets there were Gray Vireo, Cassins Kingbird, Plain Titmouse and other desert species. Unfortunately, the wind had picked up by the time we arrived and we were unsuccessful in our attempts. We did see Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western Tanager, Lazuli Bunting, Common Raven and Rock Wren. A little before 5:00 p.m., we all headed for home across the breathtaking Southeastern Utah landscape. It was a wonderful trip! Altogether, the group saw 107 species and accumulated some long lasting birding memories. This area of Utah holds the promise of interesting and productive birding trips in the future.
|D = Diamond Fork
S = Soldiers Summit
P = Price
G = Green River
M = Moab
C = Devils Canyon
B = Blanding
F = Bluff
H = Hovenweep
Pied-billed Grebe (M)
Junece Markham 373-2487
Julia Tuck 377-8084
|Names of Birds
|Kevin Johnson, Laura Lockhart
|Parleys Gulch, by Tanner Park
|Kolob, Zion National Park
|Matheson Wetlands, Moab
|Provo Wetlands, South Provo
|Tanner Park, Parleys Gulch
|Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon
|Below Jordanelle Dam
|near Lake Shore
|Robin Tuck, Merrill Webb
|between Fairfield and Faust
|Robin Tuck, Merrill Webb
|Harker Canyon, near Vernon
|Black & White Warbler*
|Alan Godwin, Yvonne Stroup, Larene Wyss
|Cottonwood Hospital area
|Camelot Woods, Springville
|Tanner Park, Parleys Gulch
|Cedar View Reservoir
|Julie Andrews Meadow, Mt. Timp.
|Mt. Dell Golf Course, Parleys Can.
|Joel and Kathy Beyer
|Brighton, Big Cottonwood Canyon
|Ray Smith, Jeanne Le Ber, Pat Kelly, June Ryburn
|West of Salt Lake Intern. Airport
|Colby Neuman, Kevin Johnson, Mark Stackhouse
|Alan Godwin, Yvonne Stroup
|Spruces, Big Cottonwood Canyon
|between Randolph and Cokeville
* From State Hotline Report provided by Mark Stackhouse