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A Great Day of Winter Birding

posted by Jeff Bilsky at
on Saturday, January 8, 2011 

Who says winter birding is boring? I met up with Carl Ingwell out at the Saltair Marina where he had keyed in on a first winter Iceland Gull. Unfortunately when I got there, that bird had flown but after 30 minutes or so we had a first winter Glaucous Gull show up. I'll be honest that I don't get too stoked about Gulls, but I'm starting to...

From there, I headed down the frontage road and through the Salt Lake International Center (IC). Highlights included a Great Horned Owl (pictured), a Northern Shrike, and a Ring-necked Pheasant being a highlight only in that it was strutting down a street at the IC...I found this slightly odd.

I attempted to type in a park called Jensen Park up near Antelope Island into my phone's GPS and it picked the Legacy Nature Preserve instead. I don't know why but I went with it and followed the friendly voice on my phone north to the Legacy Parkway. After realizing the Legacy Nature Preserve was basically just a series of trails along the freeway, I decided I didn't feel like hiking and instead found a frontage road to drive along off of 500 south. It led me near the Bountiful Dump and a lake adjacent to it that had a lot of Gulls on the ice. Noted nothing unusual amongst the Gulls in a brief scan, but in the trees around the lake, I spotted something I found to be unusual for Northern Utah - especially in the winter: a Northern Mockingbird (pictured).

I was glad to have found a new place to bird and after another try on the GPS, I was able to target Jensen Nature Park. On the way the voice on my phone led me past several farm fields. In one I spied a Ross's Goose amongst a bunch of Canada's. Upon arriving at Jensen Park, I found yet another Ross's as well as a first year Snow Goose (pictured). Then I looked some more and started to be baffled at the number of ducks using a bit of open water at this park. Ruddy Ducks, Gadwall, Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneyes, Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, Mallards, and what the heck were 6 Cinnamon Teal doing there in winter? This seemed more like a pond in St. George.

Next stop, the Antelope Island Causeway. I ran into Steve and Cindy Sommerfield along with Jack Skalicky. Steve told me he doesn't like hats and won't wear one; he'd rather be cold. Steve rules. The highlight here (other than meeting up with friends) was a group of 6 Snow Buntings. I was honestly pretty excited to find these. That's the most Snow Buntings I have ever seen and knowing they flew all the way from the Arctic Tundra to hang out here in the winter- it's just really cool.

The sun was beginning to set and I decided why not try for some owls at Farmington Bay on my way back to Salt Lake. I caught glimpses of a Barn Owl and a Short-eared Owl just after the day ended.


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Anonymous Kiirsi said...

Sounds like a fun and rewarding day!

January 9, 2011 at 7:13 AM  
Blogger Birding is Fun! said...

Great sightings Jeff. Sorry I didn't get to meet you on the causeway.

January 9, 2011 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Jeff Bilsky said...

We found the Snow Buntings on Sunday as well. Hope you get a chance to see them. For some good gulling, check out Tim's field trip this Saturday with Audubon(http://greatsaltlakeaudubon.org/). A bunch of us will be there.

January 10, 2011 at 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Tony Leukering said...

Just a nitpicky thing, but there is no hyphen in "Great Horned Owl."

February 5, 2011 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Jeff Bilsky said...

Thanks for reading! I'll fix it when I get a chance. I'm out enjoying Southern Utah and camping this weekend.

February 5, 2011 at 7:09 PM  

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