All Photos posted on this blog unless otherwise noted were taken by me with my Canon Rebel XTI using a 300 mm zoom lens

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Antelope Island Birding

I finally got out to Antelope Island yesterday for the first time this year. The Great Salt Lake has risen quite a bit, much of the mud flats are now covered and the lake comes up to most of the Causeway.

On the Causeway I saw California, and Franklin's Gull, White-faced Ibis, Killdeer, and Swallows.

The Chukar above was sitting on a rock at the entrance of the Visitors Center and was putting on quite a show.

I suspect that this Doe Pronghorn may have had a fawn in the area close by because she would not leave the area.
Meadow Larks were everywhere and singing their hearts out.

There were quit a few Lark Sparrows around the Visitors Center
Horned Larks were running along the road out to the Ranch. this one was kind enough to pose for me
I heard a curious call from the sagebrush and had to get out to investigate. There were several Willets sitting in the sage\brush calling to each other.

This Red-tail Hawk was hunting along the road to the ranch.
This Baby Great Horned Owl was keeping a close eye on me as I moved around it never stopped watching me
Mama was just a few feet above in the tree
This Western Wood Peewee is the first one I have ever photographed and it was quite cooperative
Western Wood Peewee
Another first is this Blue-gray Gnatcatcher though I have seen them many times it is the first time I was able to photograph one.
Yellow-rumped Warblers were everywhere at the ranch
There were also many Warbling Vireos 
Yellow Warblers were also abundant
This Barn Owl was terrorizing all the Passerines
I didn't see many Bison, I saw this small group on my way back to the causeway from the ranch
Here is a list of the birds seen 45 species:
Eared Grebe
White-faced Ibis
Northern Harrier
Swainson's Hawk
American Kestrel
California Quail
Franklin's Gull
California Gull
Mourning Dove
Barn Owl
Great Horned Owl
Western Wood Peewee
Western Kingbird
Willow Flycatcher
Empid Flycatchers
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-billed Magpie
Common Raven
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Sage Thrasher
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Warbling Vireo
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Lark Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Bullock's Oriole
Brown-headed Cowbird

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Great Salt Lake Bird Festival 2011

For the ninth year I was involved again this year in the Great Salt lake Bird Festival in three events.
Larry teaching the kids about Migrations
First was Those Wild Wetlands, a workshop originally for scouts to pass of requirements for their different badges. About 6 years ago I changed the program to include all youth, though scouts could still pass off their requirements I wanted to see more girls and other boys participate who may not be involved with scouts. I decided this year to make it my last to be in charge of this event, for about 8 years it was run by myself and Larry McClurg one of the other volunteers. He and I both want to pass this off to some different volunteers and give some of them a chance, so this year we recruited several of the other volunteers to take part and it was one of the best events we have ever done.

John teaching the kids about wetland plants
Double-crested Cormorant taking off during our bus tour
The second event I was part of was a bus tour of Farmington Bay. For the last tree years I have gone along while Rich Hansen the manager of Farmington Bay, leads this tour of the interior of the Waterfowl Management Area, where the public is usually not allowed to go. This is a leisurely event for me I sit in the back of the bus to answer questions and help people identify birds we see. Here are some pictures from the tour.
This Barn Swallow stopped and posed for us
This female Brown-headed Cowbird was also cooperative to have her picture taken
Probably the highlight of the tour was this black-crowned Night Heron who posed for a long time to let us take pictures.
Nesting Great Blue Herons
Forster's Terns
American White Pelicans
Who doesn't love baby geese?
The third event is one I started about 6 years ago it is a Birding For Families and Dutch-oven Dinner. This event is a lot of work, it is a fun event and I have enjoyed doing it. We start with a Dutch-oven dinner of my Grandma Casdorph's Pulled Pork Barbeque a recipe handed down from grandma to my mom. Cole Slaw, Baked Beans, Dutch-oven Potatoes and end with three Dutch-oven dump cakes to choose from. I didn't get to do any birding during this event, again I recruited several of the Volunteer Naturalists to lead bird walks and teach the participants about the wetlands.
This is what I envisioned years ago when I decided to do this event. Whole families even little kids enjoying the nature Center and the Birds.
The event would not have been a success without these volunteers who worked hard to make it a success. This is Shyloh helped me prep the food and lead a bird walk, Terri helped with a bird walk and helped with clean up, MarJean who was our bird guide for the night and Holly with her back to us, she is an intern and helped all day long, she put in a long day.
This is Holly she does an amazing job at the Nature Center
This is Verma and her family, she did an excellent presentation on Macro-invertebrates
Here are some pictures of the participants this year.

Larry and his daughter

This gentleman has participated for the last 3 or 4 years with his family.

MarJean our bird guide for the night
Shyloh and his lovely wife

Nery and I. Nery shows up every year to help me out and keep me straight. I would never have been able to do any of these dinner events without her. she is AWESOME and a good sport.
Thanks to all the volunteers for your help, thanks to Holly for all you did for us this day, and thanks to all who signed up and participated, I hope you all had a wonderful time and hope that you will return often to the Nature Center and Farmington Bay. Most of all thank you Nery for your help and support.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shore and Wading Birds

Spring is Shorebird season at The Great Salt Lake. A drive out to Antelope Island along the causeway will reward you with all manner of Shorebirds. Farmington Bay is also a great place to see Shorebirds.
Here are pictures of some of the Shore and Wading Birds of Great Salt Lake and Farmington Bay
American Avocet and Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret
Great Egret
The Great Egret is found across much of the world, from southern Canada southward to Argentina, and in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The Great Egret however is uncommon in Northern Utah, this one showed up several years ago and hung around Farmington Bay clear into late January.

Black-crowned Night Heron
Great Blue Heron
The Great Blue Heron is a year round resident to The Great Salt Lake Wetlands, a couple of years ago when all of the water at Farmington Bay was frozen over I observed Blue Herons in the grassy areas hunting meadow voles.
Great Blue Heron hunting Meadow Voles
White-faced Ibis
One of the worlds largest concentrations of White Faced Ibis Nest on the shores of the Great Salt Lake

The American Avocet is a favorite shorebird for many people. Great Salt Lake is host to one of the largest concentrations of breeding American Avocets in the world
Never far from the Avocets are the Black-necked Stilts
Long-billed Curlew are common along the Antelope Island Causeway, feeding on Brine Flies.
Long-billed Dowitchers congregate by the thousands during Spring and Fall migrations.
This unfortunate Dowitcher had somehow lost a leg and wintered over a few years ago. Though handicapped he seemed to do well and was seen for several months and probably met up with other Dowitchers during spring migration and move on, at least I would like to think that is what became of him.
Killdeer are a study in crazy behavior. They love to lay their eggs in gravel and for some reason often pick parking lots with a lot of traffic. After choosing a less than perfect place to nest they are constantly running around calling to people and doing their broken wing impressing to lure people away from their nest. Killdeer are year round residents of Northern Utah and can be found in many types of habitat from the foothills to pastures to mud flats on the Great Salt Lake and Farmington Bay.
Marbled Godwits are hit and miss, sometimes you can look all day and not find any then other times you can see large groups of them. For me they are one of the harder birds to get a good photograph of.
Great Salt Lake hosts the largest concentration of Wilson's Phalaropes during spring and fall migrations
Red-necked Phalaropes in winter plumage a smaller cousin to the Wilson's Phalarope. Very entertaining to watch them spin in circles while they feed on Brine Shrimp in the Great Salt lake
Solitary Sandpiper
Sora a small Rail is much more often heard than seen and I felt fortunate to get these pictures.
These little beauties usually hiding in the Cattails this one came out to let us take some pictures.
Spotted Sandpiper in Breeding Plumage
Spotted Sandpiper in winter plumage

Virginia Rail another bird more often heard than seen but doesn't seem to be quite a shy as the Sora. This one hung out right next to the Nature Center a couple of years ago much to the delight of many visitors.
Western Sandpipers and other "peeps" small sandpipers are seen in large numbers on the Antelope Island Causeway during migration.
Willets flashing their black and white wings in flight are rather drab on the ground.
Greater Yellow-legs
I think these are Lesser Yellow-legs, but hard for me to tell unless I see them side by side with Greater Yellow-legs.
Millions of Shorebirds move through the Great Salt Lake and her Wetlands twice a year during migration