Utah 2006

Saturday, April 1

We had arrived at Salt Lake the night before, rented a car, and drove north to Layton where we stopped at a crowded restaurant for dinner. Spoke with a few of the local people who were quite friendly (as were most of the people we would meet in Utah). We thought we had a little further to drive, but since Utah had renumbered the exits found that we were actually right next to the Holiday Inn Express where we were staying.

Glenn met us at the hotel at around 9 a.m. Although I had never met him before, he is a long-time friend going back to Prodigy days in the early í90s. Glenn is quite a local birder, knowledgeable about the birding hotspots, so we left most of the trip planning to him.

View from the causeway to Antelope Island State Park Mountains and the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island, Utah
Chukar on causeway to Antelope Island, UtahHis first choice was a trip to Antelope Island, the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. It is reached by driving along a 7.5 mile long causeway. We (meaning Joan) found a pair of Chukar on the causeway. Glenn said that he never seen them on the causeway before. Glenn mentioned the Chukars to some other birders who also said that Chukars on the causeway were unusual. Then they asked if we had seen the Horned Grebe in breeding plumage. Horned Grebe is unusual for Utah. We located it, swimming with five Eared Grebes The Horned and Eared Grebes in breeding plumage were outstanding. We are used to the Horned (and an occasional Eared) in winter plumage. What a difference!

Horned and Eared Grebes at Antelope Island State Park, Utah

Once on the island, we looked for a Burrowing Owl nest, but were unsuccessful. We went on to the Garr Ranch where we saw a nesting female Great Horned Owl. She surely looked very large on the nest. We later found the male high in a nearby tree. We drove to other parts of the island. Some of Glenn's friends (he seems to know all the birders in Utah) told us another location where we could find a Burrowing Owl. It took a while to actually locate it, but we eventually found it at is burrow. Then, later we spotted the nesting Barn Owl in a hay shed in its nest box. This was near the Bison corrals, and we then stopped there to watch them.

Bison at the corrals on Antelope Island, Utah

At the Visitorsí Center we found more Chukar and also saw two Lincolnís Sparrows at the bird feeder. The Chukar were up on the feeder scrounging the seed placed there for other birds. Later we saw a very illusive Spotted Towhee. Other good birds for the day were California Gull, Common Goldeneye, Western Meadowlark, Long-billed Curlew in flight, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Northern Harrier, and Peregrine Falcon. Joan noticed that all the California Gulls were adults, not an immature among them.

Western Meadowlark - Antelope Island State Park, Utah

After Glenn left us, Joan and I had dinner and since it was still light out, we went back to some ponds just before Antelope Island. We saw a few more ducks and added a Merlin to the list so with the American Kestrels and Peregrines we had seen earlier with Glenn, we had a three falcon as well as a three owl day. Total species for us for the day was 41 (no lifers for me.)

Joan and I cannot get over how beautiful it is here. Snow covered Wasatch Mountains on one side, snow covered Sierra Nevadas on the other and the Great Salt Lake in between. Stormy clouds for dramatic effect. Can't believe how many times we said what a beautiful place.

And Glenn is terrific!

Day 2: Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge   The SongStar Home Page
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Copyright © 2006 by Glenn Barlow and Joan & Richard Becker