On January 1st, Carl Ingwell and I headed out Fish Springs NWR
to participate in their annual Christmas Bird Count
which was scheduled for the next day. Fish Springs Refuge covers 17,992 acres with a 10,000 acre marsh system. Water is supplied by 5 major springs and several lesser springs and seeps (info from their website). To access it, we had to drive 75 or so miles on the unpaved Pony Express road. In any conditions this road is not exactly easy to drive, so the winter provided some interesting challenges including a couple of mountain passes, some heavy snow, and areas of snow drifts. 4WD was a must. On the way, we came across the largest flock either of us had ever seen of Bushtits
moving through some Junipers. There were probably close to 40. A good omen to be sure.
We stayed at the Fish Springs bunk-house for the night, and being the light sleeper that I am, I woke up to the singing of Great Horned Owls outside the window just after midnight. The memory of the weekend that is burned as transcendent was when an American Bittern
was captured by the sun as its head stuck up through ice crystals that had formed on the surrounding vegetation. It was an unreal display of nature's unwavering beauty.
There were many other incredible moments throughout (contact me for a complete list of species seen) including the infamous great rally at the end and lots of great food, drink, and discussion.
There's something about Fish Springs that is unique and memorable. Hard to articulate, but I think if you go out there you'll see what I mean.
Labels: bird counts, Fish Springs, winter