by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Field Trips are to Die For"


phainopepla        Field Trips are to die for . . . if you are a ‘birder’. Adventure! Seeing a ‘Lifer’ (bird that is)! Something to write home about! Being with great people who are as wacky as you are!

        On one of our field trips to Lytle Ranch Preserve, we were met with a cool breeze caressing the early morning air. This was a morning when a warm jacket was needed to enjoy such a quiet, lovely spot. Our group parked, and immediately put binoculars to their eyes to catch a better view of the zillion birds greeting us with song. What a day this would be. There are hikers who spend the whole time trying to cover every inch possible, and there are stayers who prefer to stay in a more limited area to see what birds will come in. My honey is a stayer. He not only enjoys bird watching, he enjoys drawing and sketching as well. After scanning all the huge trees next to Beaver Dam Wash, honey got out his art supplies and set about drawing as the hikers went up the main canyon.

        When the morning started to warm, a large cloud of mosquitoes decided to check out the campground area . . . and honey. These insects were huge, healthy, and well-fed. They looked as though they had just finished off a cow or two for breakfast and wanted a taste of human blood for an after meal snack. To fend off that many mosquitoes you would have to drink insect repellent straight from the bottle. Honey threw himself and all his gear back in our truck and shut the doors. Luckily, the mosquitoes could not open doors and soon flew away up canyon hoping to catch the hikers unawares and too far away from the protection of their vehicles.

        Lytle Ranch has many fruit and nut trees, Pomegranate bushes, a vegetable garden, chickens, and an irrigation pond. Very similar to how the first settlers left it. Today there is a new owner, a caretaker, and permission is needed to visit.

        In one of the many pomegranate bushes at Lytle a Phainopepla was busily hunting for insects. The Phainopepla is a regular. It thrives on the mistletoe which is abundant in the area. Another place Phainopeplas hang out is just south of Mesquite, by the old Morgan Horse Ranch. Habitat is mesquite, desert scrub, and oak foothills. The lower Virgin River riparian area is a perfect habitat. Both male and female have the same distinctive crest, white wing patches and red eyes, but the female is gray while the male is black.

        Judy Warren is the artist, painted with watercolor pencil. If you have questions about birds or upcoming Red Cliffs Audubon events, call 435 673-0996.

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