ARTISTS AND BIRDS
by Marilyn and Keith Davis
"Hold the Mud . . ."
Blue Grosbeak: One of the reasons I live in southern Utah is because of the many great places to visit on Audubon Field Trips. In all the years I have belonged to Red Cliffs Audubon, we have only had two of our Field Trips cancelled due to bad weather. Those cancellations were because of dirt road destinations. Dirt roads in southern Utah are fairly descent 99% of the year, but a dirt road, after a rain storm is . . . a "mud of a different color". The dry, summery roads you drove on yesterday, so hard they could not be impacted by a meteor strike, change completely with a shift in the weather. Mix one of our dirt roads with about two hours of rain and you end up with a muddy, sloppy, slippery surface that will run any vehicle off the road, into a ditch, or sink it so far under the surface it will be there till next spring.
If this happens, and when you finally get enough courage to get out of your vehicle to access the damage and try to extract the vehicle from the soft slippery stuff, your feet instantly become engulfed with 30 pounds of mud that suck street shoes right off your feet and sends you stumbling into a sea of goopity-goop. I know the feeling . . . having been in similar situations. I do not drive off paved roads when it's raining p e r i o d.
Our last July outing was to be to Pine Park, west of Enterprise. But, after 89 dry days, the skies opened up and it rained and rained, including the morning we were going on our field trip. Rather than going on the dirt road to Pine Park, we chose the paved road to Gunlock Reservoir. Good choice! When we stopped at the top of the reservoir where the Santa Clara pours into the reservoir, there, right next to our vehicles, was a Blue Grosbeak on a bush, singing his heart out, "singing in the rain", as though he were another Gene Kelly. This beautiful blue bird was a great sight for rain-soaked birders. The bird and the song couldn't have been more welcome.
If you are interested in identifying the birds you see, the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America is a favorite one for the novice, or Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America. Brenda Rusnell is the artist for the beautiful Blue Grosbeak, painted with color pencils. If you have questions about birds or Red Cliffs Audubon activities, call 435 673-0996. The public is always welcome. The public is always invited. If you wish to read more of the Artists and Birds articles, they are listed below.
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