Utah County Birders Newsletter
May 2000


7:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 17 At the Bean Museum on the BYU Campus Provo, Utah

"Shorebird Identification"

Presented by Merrill Webb He will be speaking about shorebird identification. Merrill teaches Biology and physiology at Provo High school, and has been birding for more than 30 years. This year, Merrill will lead his 30th Christmas bird count.


May 26th

Flycatchers 7:00 -12:00 meet at the Little Acorn at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon at 7:00 a.m.

June 3rd

Utah Birding Classic Dennis Shirley will attempt to find us 100 species in one day. meet at the Division of Wildlife Resources office in springville 1115 N Main at 6 a.m. full day

June 24th

2 counties Duchesne & Uintah Counties Tentatively Details to be announced

 by Darlene Amott

   On March 21st, LeIla, Sybelle and I went searching for birds. Our adventures eventually took us to Mona Reservoir where we were supposed to be able to see some good birds, among which was listed the Merganser. There were virtually no birds there. We did see the usual Coots, and one Bufflehead, but not much else. There had been a wind and snow storm the day before. There was some snow on the ground, and the way in which it was drifted gave evidence of pretty fair wind. The water on the reservoir was still choppy. I am assuming that the birds left for more sheltered waters. Almost on a whim, and because we didn't want to head home yet, we drove down the road to Burreston Ponds. This small, lovely area is often overlooked as a birding spot. During the summer months when there are many people there, I think the birds are rather scarce, but in the off season, it can be quite productive. Most of the birds we were seeking were on the ponds on this particular day. The ponds were calm, peaceful, and lovely, even if the air was cold. We saw Cormorants, Great Blue Heron, Pied Grebe, Mallards, American Widgeon, Shovelers, Cinnamon Teal, Redheads, Greater Yellow- legs, Coot, and Violet-Green Swallows. I may have missed a duck or two. The only target birds we did not see were the Mergansers. I wonder how many other small ponds there are in the state which could be productive areas if we only knew about them, and took time to investigate. It reminded me of the small pond north of Salem Pond. It often has more birds than Salem Pond does itself. Maybe it is time to take a better look at the map, and to have a long talk with Dennis to learn where some hidden treasure might be. Since writing this article, I have ventured out to Fool's Creek Reservoir. (Two or three days after the group trip out there) That is one of the small areas I was speaking of. It was totally unknown to me and to others with whom I talked. What a delightful spot. Even the small pond by Lynndyl was productive that day. We do need to do more searching.

by Robin Tuck

Contests cause the strangest things.

    In response to the year 2000 birding contest the Utah County Birders is sponsoring, Julie and I are frantically traveling from county to county every week-end to find the required 25 species in each county. On one of these trips, we had enough time to travel over the hill from Carbon and catch Duchesne County. It was already mid afternoon, so we were focused on seeing every bird we could. By the time we arrived at Duchesne City, we had eleven species causing us to doubt we would find the needed number. We drove down the highway to the edge of town then looped back, not seeing anything. How could this be? Nota Starling or House Sparrow anywhere. Julie and I were amazed, we were looking for Starlings. Can you imagine, Starlings. Never would I have guessed that Starlings would be important to me. We turned off the highway and cruised the streets of Duchesne and didn't find a single Starling, but ultimately did find a House Sparrow. We shouldn't have worried because we found a great place to bird in Duchesne County and ended up with 32 species. This event really did open my eyes to the fact that all species are important, even the ones we generally think of as "junk birds." I guess there are no such things as "junk birds."

by Robin Tuck

A continuation of the list of birding sites started last month.
I had some 'unrealistic expectations,' thinking others would share some of their favorite out-of-the-way birding places for me to publish in this spot. So, I will share more of the neat places I have found as I travel the state trying to satisfy the contest requirements. As you plan your trip, get out a state map and mark just where these places are. Utah is a big place and some of the best birding spots are out of the way and quite lonely. Know where you are going and how to get back from it. Be prepared and let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back.

1. Bicknell Bottoms - Wayne County-. McIvor's book told me to go to Fruita, so to Fruita I went. It was ok, but my best birding in Wayne County was at Bicknell bottoms. The kid at the motel front desk said that was where all the duck hunters went, so I knew right off there were ducks there. We entered the Bicknell Valley from the south and immediately turned west onto the paved road that heads out toward the fish hatchery. This road crossed the Fremont River and then proceeds west, hugging the hill side as it goes by a large wetland. The road is higher than the main valley floor and is wide enough to pull over and glass the area. The pavement ends after about three miles but continues around the marshes with an exit point at Durfee Canyon, which heads back into Bicknell.

   We found American Coot, Canada Goose, Northern Harrier, Mallard, Common Raven, Ring-necked Pheasant, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Green-wing Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Song Sparrow, White-crown Sparrow, Turkey Vulture, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Black-billed Magpie and Violet-green Swallows.

2. Alton - Kane County. About four miles off Highway 89, Alton is quite a find. Not only was the town great birding but the road to it scored high as well. The road passes three good-sized ponds that are popular with the waterfowl and the swallows. Ring-neck Ducks must have been in migration because we found them in good numbers on all the ponds. The surrounding pinyon-juniper forests also had some great birds.. Alton is nestled in a beautiful agricultural valley that abounds with birds. We suggest you drive all the streets in town and stop at the ball diamond next to the church. This is a great little town.

   We found Clark's Nutcracker, Mountain Bluebird, Canada Goose, Killdeer, Northern Harrier, Pied-billed Grebe , Violet-green Swallow, Tree Swallow, Rough- winged Swallow, Chipping Sparrow, Western Bluebird, Downey Woodpecker, House Finch, Common Raven, and Townsend's Solitaire.

3. Wales Reservoir - Sanpete County. Swallow heaven, that what it was when we were there. We saw every kind of Swallow that comes to Utah, and most of them we had landing all around us on the ground. There must have been several thousand swallows. But we didn't just see swallows. We saw a number of waterfowl and shorebirds. Wales Reservoir is south of Moroni. One way to get there is to turn east off Main Street at 300 West. This road seems to be named Feed Company Lane. Take it to the corner of 15500 North then turn west, which seems to be named Wales Reservoir Road. Turn north on 1000 East which goes directly to the reservoir. If I have these directions messed up, it is because I recorded them backwards.

Finding 25 bird species in half a day in a unfamiliar county is difficult. If you know of some good places in a County here in Utah not previously published, please send a description of the site and directions to find it to robin@utahnature.com. I'll publish the information in the Utah Birders Newsletter as soon as I get it.


Allan Fuchs and Chris Weisbender will conduct a bird photography workshop in Salt Lake City June 21-30, 2000. The three session workshop will consist of an evening lecture / demo June 21, a Saturday field trip to Bear River Refuge June 24, and a final evening slide critique session June 30.

Participation will be limited to twelve people and will cost $125.00. Photographers beginning to advanced are welcome. For more information contact Alan Fuchs at 435-654-4776 or access the workshop website at www.visionquestphoto.com