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Tis' the Season: Gulls Part 4 - Where to Go

posted by Tim Avery at
on Thursday, December 23, 2010 

I’ve talked about the gulls over the past few posts, so now let’s talk about the places to go. Below is a Google Map I created that can be printed or pulled up on your iPhone and/or Droid. I have placed a few place markers on the map to show locations to visit, as well as a short drive that might turn up some passerines while you are at it. Check it out (click on the link below the map for a large version):

If I had a half day to go birding and didn’t want to do too much driving, I would start by visiting the Jordan River at 2300 South to look for Barrow’s Goldeneye and usually a good number of other waterfowl that are present. You can walk either north or south along the river. Heading south you can go to the oxbow area—to the north you hit the 2100 south freeway.

From there I would head west to Decker Lake to check out the gull situation, and see what waterfowl and over wintering shorebirds were around. You can take a nice walk around the lake if you have time or if you are in a hurry—park in the south parking lot, and walk west to the path for quick and close viewing of the largest portion of open water this time of year.

After Decker Lake it’s on to Lake Park where there are usually hundreds if not 1,000’s of Canada Geese during the winter. Scanning the flocks has produced Cackling, Greater White-fronted, and I believe Snow as well as Ross’s Goose over the past few years. This business park and golf course is mostly private property so stick to the roads and empty parking lots to avoid any issues with security.

If you head west out of Lake Park, you will end up at a roundabout with a large pond on the south side of the road. In the past this pond has had a decent sized flock of gulls using it, when other fresh water ponds in the area are frozen over. It is hit or miss, but if gulls are there, they will be pretty close to study. You can park on one of the side streets and walk around the pond or scan from the sidewalk.

From Lake Park, its west and north a little ways to Lee Kay Ponds which on good days is a gullers heaven—on other days it is a desolate wasteland. If the conditions are right a flock of 2,500-5,000 gulls might be found and as many as 10 species have been recorded here. Waterfowl, and a few passerines, and raptors are also usually present.

If you want to go a little further, take the frontage road from 5600 West or 7200 West out to Great Salt Lake State Park. You won’t see a lot of birds along the road, but it slows the pace for the drive, and gives the opportunity to see what is there. Sparrows, Horned Larks, and Shrikes are often seen, as well as a number of raptors. And occasionally Pronghorn, Coyote, or Red Fox are seen in the fields to the north of the road.

The last stop on the loop (which isn’t really a loop) is at Great Salt Lake State Park, which provides a great view of the lake from the south. The birding here is hit or miss, but a wide array of species could be seen, ranging from grebes, ducks, shorebirds and gulls, to passerines, hawks, and corvids. Park in the parking lot and walk the grounds, or scan from your car if the weather is bad.

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Blogger Jeff Bilsky said...

You are the master of maps! You should have a page that just links to all the maps you've created.

December 27, 2010 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Utah Birders said...

That's a good idea. Going forward as we add to the site, I will create a map index using Google Maps.

December 29, 2010 at 8:28 AM  

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