|Greg Lavaty | profile | all galleries >> My Blog >> Birding Utah and Arizona, Eared Grebes and Red-faced Warblers 09-08-2012||tree view | thumbnails | slideshow|
Our first day started out early at Antelope Island State Park, which is situated in the Great Salt Lake. This park encompasses 80% of Utah’s wetlands making it a major stopping point for migratory birds. This was obvious to us while driving along the causeway out to the island. On either side of the causeway were flocks of Franklin’s Gulls, Red-necked Phalaropes and assorted shorebirds. At one stop along the causeway I decided to walk over to the edge of the water for a better photo angle of the birds that were feeding nearby. One step off the road immediately reveled impressive masses of brine flies birds were gobbling up. Thankfully the flies didn’t bite or it would have been a very short visit to the park.
Putting around the maze of roads on the island yielded tons of photo opps of a wide assortment of interesting birds such as Sage Thrasher, Burrowing Owl, Brewer’s Sparrow, Chukar and many more. We also got our fill of jackrabbits, Pronghorn Antelope, Mule Deer, Coyotes and Bison.
Once we had our fill of wonderful birds at Antelope Island we headed for Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge NWR. We didn’t know what exactly to expect at Bear River since Utah has been under drought conditions and water levels were expected to be low. Thankfully the refuge did not disappoint. We started out with massive flocks of swallows, mainly Tree and Bank as well as large numbers of Clarks and Western Grebes. Other birds photographed during our visit were an assortment of sandpipers and a family of Northern Harriers who proved to be very cooperative models.
Day two was spent birding in the valleys around Park City, Utah. Almost immediately after getting out of the car we ran into a group of people on a boardwalk around a mountain lake looking at two impressive Moose. Eventually the Moose moved away from the boardwalk and allowed the crowd to dissipate and we resumed our search for birds. It wasn’t long before we had photos of Steller’s Jay, Mountain Chickadee, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Song and Lincoln’s Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco and Belted Kingfisher to name a few. We decided to take things slow while hiking through the beautiful mountain scenery since neither of us was used to the altitude yet. This also gave us a better opportunity to appreciate the beautiful scenery in the area.
The next two days were spent birding in the Tucson area, and birding was quite rewarding. In the Santa Catalina Mountains we were dazzled by such beauties as Red-faced, Hermit, Grace’s and Townsend’s Warblers, Yellow-eyed Junco, Gila Woodpecker, Pygmy Nuthatch, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Western Scrub-Jay, Plumbeous Vireo and Band-tailed Pigeon among others.
We rounded out the fifth day of our trip visiting the Patagonia, AZ area. We started out at the famous highway rest stop outside of town for Canyon Wren and Thick-billed Kingbird. Racing the sunset we then high-tailed it over to the Patton’s house for Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Abert’s Towhee, Cassin’s Kingbird, Gambel’s Quail and an assortment of other birds.
Our last morning started off at Ft Huachuca with birds like Blue Grosbeak, Botteri’s and Cassin’s Sparrows, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Painted Redstart, Buff-breasted and Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers, Hutton’s Vireo and Bridled Titmouse. We didn’t make it far up the road into Garden Canyon because of a washout but the visit was quite a productive one none the less.