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Birding and botanizing the stansbury Range

posted by Oliver Hansen at
on Monday, June 3, 2013 

 Arrowleaf Balsamroot at the top of West Canyon

I've been working with a handful of high school students on documenting the wildflowers in the Stansbury Range. It's a citizen science project that involves hiking around the mountains taking GPS-tagged photos of plants. Think of it like ebird for flowers on a very miniature scale but with plants - and GPS Coordinates instead of hotspots. Although the focus of our project is about photography and flowers, the biology teacher in me can't help sneaking in teaching about birds, mammals, herps, insects, ecology, geology, natrual history, hiking/wilderness ethics, etc.

On Friday we hiked up West Canyon below the Onaqui Benchmark just west of Grantsville. Onaqui Benchmark (not to be confused with the Onaqui mountains to the south of the Stansbury Range) is the high point of the northernmost group of peaks in the Stansbury Range.
 
West canyon starts out in Sagebrush, slowly transitions to Pinyon/Juniper, and then higher up into Aspen/Pine. This creates a nice diversity gradient of both flowers and birds. Near the mouth of the canyon there are HORNED LARKS, LARK SPARROWS, BREWERS SPARROWS, LONG BILLED CURLEWS, nesting RAVENS, SWAINSON'S and RED-TAILED HAWKS, and many other species you'd expect to find in rural Utah (doves, starlings, etc.) Two weeks ago on my way out of the canyon I was able to see a BURROWING OWL hunting at dusk.

In the middle portion of the canyon is full of GREEN-TAILED TOWHEES, SPOTTED TOWHEES, AM. ROBINS, DUSKY FLYCATCHERS, B.G. GNATCATHERS, WARBLING VIREOS, BUSHTITS, JUNIPER TITMOUSE, and other P.J. specialties.

Mountain Bluebird

 The upper portion of the canyon passes through Aspen/Pine and the normal mountain birds can be seen and heard: RB NUTHATCHES, RC KINGLETS, SWAINSON'S & HERMIT THRUSHES.
 
On Friday we were about half way up the trail when one of the students started yelling something about a dead owl on the trail. I was a few yards ahead of the group and turned around to see what all the commotion was about. This is what the "dead owl" was:


 Dead Owl?

It was a COMMON POORWILL roosting on the trail. Such a cool species. Here are some more shots:

 



And here are a few flower pics to end the post:


Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Larkspur

Indian Paintbrush  


Phlox
 

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3 Comments:
Anonymous Christine Bastian said...

Wonderful!

June 4, 2013 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger arianenewell said...

love the photos and I always appreciate when you cite other flora and fauna!

June 4, 2013 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

Very Cool Oliver! Coming across a poorwill during the day is one of those things I've always expected but never had happen. It's one of the most common species of nocturnal birds in Utah, and yet I only have one crappy photo--you've left me in the dust with this one :)

June 7, 2013 at 8:28 AM  

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