Utah County Birders Newsletter
May 2001


Wednesday, May 16.

Meet at 7:00 PM 
in the Bean Museum Auditorium 
on the BYU Campus.

Sarah Sanstagan will present:

Northern Goshawk Studies in Southern Utah.

Sarah is a graduate student seeking a Master of Science Degree in Zoology from BYU. She is working under the direction of Dr. Clayton White and will graduate in 2002. Sarah has been doing research on Northern Goshawks in Southern Utah. She has captured 25 female goshawks and has placed radio transmitters on them, thus allowing her to follow their seasonal movements. Her research objectives include mapping movements and nesting territories and identification of critical winter habitats. Her presentation should be informative and educational. Please don't miss out.


May 17 --The Tintics 
Starting at 7 a.m. - Details at the Meeting or Call Carol.

May 19 --Big Day 
Full Day (12 hours) begins at 6 a.m. 
RSVP Scott Root at (801) 489-5678 to sign up. 
Limit of 50 participants.

Details at the May Birder's Meeting.

The Best Birds I Never Saw
by Dennis Shirley

I'm writing this as I run out the door to catch a plane for Lexington, Kentucky. Life is good, but doubly hectic around our house right now. It's a good thing this trip was planned several months ago. I'm not sure it would have come about if it had been my usual spur-of-the-moment, throw everything in a bag and speed to the airport trip. The trip combines a son's graduation from the University of Kentucky and a four day - 30 warbler species - birding excursion with good friends. I can't wait to get out of Dodge! 
   Unlike our "run-every-direction-at- once" lives, birding normally gives us a chance to unwind, relax, and become more in harmony with our natural surroundings. It forces us to slow down and to look and listen more closely. I say normally because if you've been a birder very long, you've undoubtedly had those less than relaxing and satisfying experiences. I think back over the years of birding and can remember times of frantically driving like a maniac to get to a spot before the day's light ends to see a bird on the last minute before a trip ends. Such was the case many years ago when Merrill Webb and I race across the heart of Arizona to see a "slam- dunk"--pair of nesting Mississippi Kites near Dudleyville. We arrived at the grove of cottonwoods just as the last rays of light made the trees, nest, and birds only silhouettes in the sky. Ever so close, but no cigars! Our wives, who had not too patiently bounced along in the back seat for several hours, took several days to break the "silent treatment" after this episode. (Note from Carolyn: I've never given Dennis the silent treatment in my life--he's exaggerating on that one. Lynette and I were good sports about the whole adventure.) They would have much preferred to be normal tourists in Tombstone or Tucson. 
   We've all had the experience of "seeing" the bird only to come to the realization it couldn't (shouldn't) be counted because we really didn't get a good enough identifiable look. Such has been the case for me on many a lifetime of outings. Just to mention a few, there was the "little curlew" on the mudflats outside of Anchorage; the millisecond look at a mountain plover as it dipped in flight over a distant ridge near Myton; the magpie with a yellow-bill at Goshen Warm Springs; the "sun-behind-the- bird" varied bunting in Arizona; the tail-only view of a barred- peppershrike in Costa Rica; and the mystery migrant warbler with a yellow throat (I'm almost certain it was a yellow-throated warbler) last fall in Mona. 
   But that's what keeps the fire burning within! If our birding lives were always "a great view," then we would have no basis for comparison, and the perpetual excitement we experience would be lost. We have to experience the lows of the "not quites" with the highs of the "image forever burned in our minds" to appreciate fully our experience. Such is the sport of Birding.

Robin's View

Never Finished
by Robin Tuck

Last fall, as the Year 2000 Contest came to a close, I decided to select a Utah latilong and spend 2001 studying it. I have been attracted to the nooks and crannies of the state since I became a birder, and the name "Wah Wah Mountains" in an empty part of the Utah State map drew me to the Wah Wah Valley Latilong, latilong number 14.
   A number of birders in the state compete to see the most birds in particular latilongs, which are rectangles formed by latitude and longitude lines. Some of their records and a description of Utah latilongs can be found at our club web page at http://www.utahbirds.org/records/ RecordsLatilong.htm. The current record holder for the Wah Wah Valley Latilong is Steve Hedges at 141 species followed by our own Merrill Webb at 61 species. While my feeble attempts are certainly not a challenge for these numbers, I wanted to traverse the latilong, see what I could see and get to know the area. So far, I have visited the Wah Wah Valley Latilong four times and have had quite an adventure. I have been writing a journal of my trips which is available at my web page at http:// www.utahnature.com/birding/journals /wahwah/wahwahoverview.html.
   The Wah Wah Valley Latilong is actually quite difficult to get to, with basically only three paved access roads, all of which converge at Milford, itself a scant half mile within the latilong. This has led me to try to access the region by whatever dirt roads possible to look out into the latilong. I even determined I would try to visit each of the corners, where the bounding latitude and longitude lines come together.
   Highway 130, as it runs south from Minersville to Cedar City comes within 200 yards of the south-eastern corner of the Wah Wah Valley Latilong, at N 38 00.000, W 113 00.000. This corner is a sagebrush steppe and in March, there is not a bird to be found. Interestingly, as my son and I walked over to the corner, GPS in hand, we found boot tracks in the soft soil. Someone had been there shortly before us. This was a mystery to me, for why, I wondered, would someone else make a trek to this lonely corner post? One day while searching the web, I found my answer. There seems to be a hobby of visiting the degree corners, called the Degree Confluence Project which can be reviewed at http://www. confluence.org. At this site, I found pictures almost identical to the ones I had taken.
   It is interesting to me how many people who enjoy getting out into the backcountry and knock around. I identify with these people and invite them to join our birdwatching group, because I don't simply have to visit a place once and be done with it. I cannot do birding once and be done with it; I can keep going back and never be finished.