Utah County Birders
 Field Trip Report

12 Oct 2019

Big Sit -- Provo Airport Dike

 by Suzi Holt


Field trip report...a story only a BIRD NERD could love!

We did it! Beginning at 605am Jeremy started off our Provo Airport Dike BIG SIT 2019 in Utah County. I arrived at about 645am and we set out our circle. The temperature was a freezing 24 degrees! BRRR!
Mind you we were not alone there were truckloads of duck hunters on that south west corner.
One has never been more happy to see a Yellow-headed Blackbird! Bird species # 62!!
Joellen and Hana arrived a few minutes later just before dawn broke, and World War 3 began. Our first bird was calling in the dark, a Red-winged Blackbird and then we saw some Mallards. We then had Song Sparrow, Green-winged Teal, Pied Billed Grebe, Califirnia Gull, Ring-billed Gull and Snowy Egrets. Cliff joined us, then Keeli showed up with the promised muffins. Glazed Carrot-Apple-Orange....YUM! Jo brought all sorts of yummy treats too and Gary and his dad brought over Biscuits and Gravy. We were living it up!

Freezing with a smile.

A few more birders joined us. Kaylene, Alonna and Kathleen. With them we saw Northern Flicker, Ring-necked Pheasant, Clark's Grebe, American Robin, American Coot, Downy Woodpecker, American White Pelican and Marsh Wren. Shortly following was a Virginia Rail, he continued to call almost on the hour all day! We had Northern Harrier, House Finch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, European Starling, Red-tailed Hawk, American Goldfinch, DC Cormorant, Canada Goose, Barn Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Common Goldeneye, Black-capped Chickadee, Dark-eyed Junco, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Franklins Gull, Western Meadowlark, Mountain Bluebird, White-crowned Sparrow, Eared Grebe, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a flyover Blue-winged Teal!!! We also saw Belted Kingfisher, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Tree Swallow, American Pipit, Great Blue Heron and Cedar Waxwing,

Steve and Amanda showed up around 1100am, about a half hour later Stephanie, Dave and Paul arrived. I had just asked Cliff if he had seen a Ruddy Duck, when Amanda said, "hey mom what is that diving?" It's a Ruddy Duck! Then she heard Sandhill Cranes just as we saw them. We heard a American Crow and a Black-billed Magpie. which later showed up, Stephanie spotted a Common Raven, then Cliff added a couple American Avocets.



Sandhill Crane

A little later -- it just got better!

About 1200pm Jeff Cooper showed up, and we all know he loves accipiters! We had what I thought was a Northern Harrier dive into the marsh as I saw a flash of white in the tail. Jeremy saw it perch on the fence...not typical for a harrier. So Jeff got out of the circle to inspect and to show it to Deloy and Cooper found a Cooper's Hawk! The Coop flew off, so Jeff followed it north down the dike. Then we heard him yell Sharpie! A beautiful Sharp-shinned Hawk flew over us! Then we heard and saw Killdeer. When Jeff returned we heard a different call, Jeff recognized it as a Yellowlegs! Shortly after he saw two Greater Yellowlegs fly out of the moat. The birds took a siesta in the afternoon. Kayla showed up around 237pm and the birding was really slow so we killed some time chasing butterflies, dragonflies and jumping spiders. I decided to take a small break and on my way out saw a female American Kestral, I called Jeremy and Cliff to have them be on the lookout. A jet took off and up flew the female American Kestral! They also added California Quail and a Western Grebe putting us at 58! Joellen and I returned and we all knew the all time record of 61 was in our sights. Cliff found a American Wigeon a lifer for Corey, thank goodness her mom brought her over! A couple Wilson's Snipe flew by #60! Out of the circle I saw off to the south a snag with a small bird on top. I snapped a shot with my SX60 and it was a Loggerhead Shrike, now to see him within our circle. The poplars were too tall looking south even standing on a chair. Just then Sam and Megan pull up. We tried to have them park their truck in the circle but it wouldn't start, so Jo pulled hers into the circle and Cliff and I climbed in. With the extra height, Cliff spotted the shrike through the trees #61!!! We tied the record!!!


Monarch Butterfly

Loggerhead Shrike

It began to slowly get darker and the wind kicked up and it was cold. We bundled up and soon a group of Yellow-headed Blackbirds flew by. I screamed and hollered and carried on...#62!! We had broken the record! But were we done? NO! We then heard a Great Horned Owl calling and Jeremy saw some White-faced Ibis..#63 and 64! We tried to call in a Western Screech Owl, but my battery was dying and it was dark and we were tired so 64 is the number to beat next year! Thanks to all who made it such a fun, exciting day!

Yellow-headed Blackbirds

Moon rising in the East
 by Suzi Holt



E-mail: ucbirders@utahbirds.org