Grafton and Springdale
May 16, 2015
BEST EVER !
For many years our RCA Field Trip to Grafton has been a spring delight. This year was the best ever. A mild spring and plenty of moisture transformed an ordinary old, old mulberry tree into a banquet feast. The deep purple/black of the fruit changed the color shading of the tree. Birds of all types were mobbing the tree. In one hour more Phainopepla were seen than in the previous 25 years of birding. They were coming from every direction filling up on fruit and then back to the nest. At one time there were five Phainopepla feeding on a large branch as two more swooped in to share the dinner.
Male Summer Tanagers were making colorful streaks through the air as they tried to drive away rival male Tanagers feeding on ‘their’ tree. Little brown, little yellow, little birds with flashes of red dove out of the sky in to the center of the yummy berries to feed. They were coming with such speed and numbers it made it impossible to identify. As we left the area we saw a family of Rock Wrens on a cliff ledge not 10 feet from our vehicle. The impending storm of dark clouds that threatened our trip early this morning dissipated into a spectacular blue sky laced with huge white cloud banks. It was a perfect day. We were in the perfect place.
Our original target bird was to be the Vermilion Flycatcher. When we arrived where we had seen them in previous years, they showed up just as if they had been ordered. This was one of our smallest groups ever. Three jolly birders . . . and everywhere we went, it was a great day to bird and well worth the time to be outdoors. And a good time was had by all.
Birds seen: Gambel’s Quail, Turkey Vulture, Sharp-shinned Hawk, American Kestrel, American Coot, Mourning Dove, Eurasian collared Dove, Anna’s Hummingbird, Northern Flicker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Black Phoebe, Say’s Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Common Raven, Violet-green Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Rock Wren, Canyon Wren, American Robin, European Starling, Phainopepla, Orange-crowned Warbler, Lucy’s Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-headed Grosbeak, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, Pine Siskin, Lesser Goldfinch, and House Sparrow.
Marilyn shared some of her photos:
The Lucky Two
Where the Vermilion Flycatchers hang out.
Weird things live here.
Phainopepla play here among the mulberries.
Green, beautiful and majestic.
Springdale Pond with Swallows, Hummers, Chats and other birds.
A river runs through it (Springdale).
Full of birds - everywhere!
Three's company selfie.
Please join us next time on our field trip to Oak Grove (June 13)
April 18, 2015
This had to be one of the best ever field trips to Lytle Ranch. It was Spring - the perfect time at Lytle. Birds were everywhere. Some live year-round. Some migrate to and through. Some make a ‘rare’ entrance. Some stop over and decide to stay. The ever popular Phainopeplas were the first to show. How beautiful they were. Several trees were loaded with Lesser Goldfinches, and there were Bell’s Vireos were in the air flying throughout the Ranch. We always love to have new people come with us -- whether they are west of Cedar or from the heart of Salt Lake.
The group came up with at least 29 species – such as: Black-chinned Hummingbird, Anna's Hummingbird, Phainopepla, White-winged Dove, Cedar Waxwings, Crissal Thrasher, Lesser Goldfinch, Say's Phoebe, Black Phoebe, Costa Hummingbird, Bell's Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Cooper's Hawk, Gray Flycatcher, Bewick’s Wren, Cactus Wren, House Finch, Turkey Vulture, Roadrunner, Canada Geese, House Wren, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Western Kingbird, Hairy Woodpecker, White-crowned Sparrow, Loggerhead Shrike, Gambel's Quail, Summer Tanager. Just a few photos from the trip (courtesy Marilyn & Carol):
The mountains 'round Lytle.
Searching in the trees.
A family outing.
The desert in bloom.
A little Lesser.
The ladies and the gent.
Lytle in her splendor.
What's a desert without a Cactus Wren?
...and large trees without a Hairy Woodpecker?
...and southern Utah without a lizard?
Still the King.
Roadrunner on the lookout.
Our next adventure is out on the Arizona Strip. For information call 435 673-0996.
Parowan Gap - Sage Grouse Lek
February 14, 2015
When you hear the name Parowan Gap, what is your first impression? A large rift through the mountains? Large rock panels covered with desert varnish and used as American Indian drawing boards? Over the centuries, Native American Indians left art messages on the rocks at the Gap as they traveled through the area following the seasons. If you haven’t been there, put some excitement in your life, find the Parowan Gap.
But, who in their right mind wants to get up at 3:45 a.m. to visit the Gap? And who in their right mind wants to go to a Sage Grouse lek to watch those amazing male birds in action as they display for the females? Me . . . me ! It was pitch black when we arrived at the Parowan Gap and set up our scopes, hoping to be ready when the Sage Grouse males started their rival dances. As the dawn arrived we counted eight magnificent males performing for the ladies. They were sparing, rough and tough males, and only one hung in there and earned the right to stay with the ladies. It’s always the best looking and most athletic male who finally wins the lottery.
Besides Sage Grouse, there were birds of every size and fashion filling the air with songs and using the rocks as perches. Two Peregrine Falcons sat on top of a mountain in the same place as last year. Overhead we saw two Prairie Falcons harassing a Golden Eagle. He was big, but they were faster. We counted 31 different bird species in and around the Gap and the nearby pond. It was springtime for sure . . . and a good time was had by all.
We saw the following 31 bird species: Greater Sage-Grouse, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, Rough-legged Hawk, American Coot, Killdeer, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Peregrine Falcon, Prairie Falcon, American Kestrel, Say’s Phoebe, Common Raven, Horned Lark, Rock Wren, Canyon Wren, American Robin, European Starling, Spotted Towhee, Sage Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, House Finch, and House Sparrow. (report by Marilyn Davis). Just a few photos (thanks to Don Hinton for the grouse close-ups and Marilyn Davis for the trip photos:
Male Sage Grouse - close-up front view - beginning display
Male Sage Grouse - side view
Male Sage Grouse - tail feathers spread & checking out the prospects
Competing males - assessing one another
Male "I look good!" - Female "What's the big deal?"
Scoping the Lek
Dinosaur tracks trail head
Clark’s Pecan Orchard and Local Ponds
February 14, 2015
Seven birders participated on this trip on a beautiful late winter day that felt more like April than Valentine’s Day. The first stop was to Clark’s pecan orchard to try for the target bird of the day – the Red-headed Woodpecker that has been present since December. The group was not disappointed as the woodpecker made an appearance within 5 minutes of our start! Everyone got great looks of the bird.
The next stop was Stratton’s Pond and a good variety of waterfowl including close views of Greater Scaup. Then it was on to Quail Creek reservoir and more waterbirds. Unfortunately, most of the birds were well out in the reservoir and our views were not that good. Such is birding sometimes.
Several small ponds were visited on the way back to St. George including Razor Ridge, Sullivan’s, and Spring Pond. These small ponds always offer great viewing opportunities of birds since the birds are used to being around people and many are semi-domesticated, including the Snow Goose that has wintered at Spring Pond for the last several years.
The following birds were observed on the trip: Canada Goose, Snow Goose, American Wigeon, Mallard, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Pacific Loon, Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Western Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Gambel’s Quail, Ring-necked Pheasant, American Coot, Ring-billed Gull, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Red-headed Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Black Phoebe, Say’s Phoebe, Common Raven, Rock Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, European Starling, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Brewer’s Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, House Finch, House Sparrow (Steve Hedges.)
Cedar Valley Field Trip -- November 15, 2014
The Weatherman told us it would be a cold, windy day on Saturday. . . . be prepared. He was wrong! Yehhhh! When we stepped out of our warm vehicles in Cedar Valley we had on our warmest coats and hats. We were the 'Die Hards of Birding' and well prepared for cold weather. The wind blew about 15 minutes and then the sun began to warm us, and encourage us, and what a great day it became.
Cedar Valley is beautiful this time of year. The leaves had fallen from the tallest trees and that's the very spot the biggest raptors sit and survey the area. We saw Mule Deer hidden along side the road in the heavy sage brush. We saw all kinds of Prairie Dogs digging, playing, and claiming their part of the open fields. And then there were many, many, many fields, full of sheep, just down from the high country. If it is true that a sheepherder places one black sheep to every 100 white ones. . . I counted 15 black. I don’t think there were near enough black ones for the number of sheep we saw.
What a great day. What great people to be with. What great scenery and sights we saw. The following are birds seen: Canada Goose, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Redhead, Ruddy Duck, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, American Coot, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Northern Flicker, Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, Horned Lark, American Robin, European Starling, Spotted Towhee, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, House Finch, House Sparrow, Scrub Jay.
Just a few photos from the trip:
Big tree - where are the birds?
Baaa, baa black sheep. One to every 100?
More trees - are the birds hiding?
Wait! Marilyn spots - yes - a bald eagle.
And not just an eagle, but two ferruginous hawks to the right.
Now that hunting season is over...
Scoping Quichempa Lake for birds.
Keith has a bead on a bird.
That's all. Please join us next time.
Field Trip to the Reservoirs.
October 11, 2014
You just had to be there to appreciate the beautiful Field Trip we had today. Perfect weather, temperature, scenery, trip leader, people, and birds that showed up. When we arrived at Quail Lake Reservoir the first neat thing we saw was the moon overhead. Looked like a balloon full of hot gas. Lots of water fowl on the reservoir. Floating rafts of birds. Then on to Grandpa’s Pond to see the birds playing games with each other. Neat! Then to the Sewage Lagoons that always has surprises like a flock of Cormorants sitting in the middle of the lagoon. It was hard to leave this area because there were so many different bird species flying in and out of. Finally we went to Sand Hollow Reservoir where we were competing with families, all wanting to have fun on the water. Thousands of birds were all staying close to the shores . . . they knew where to go to be safe from the motor boats! Okay with us for we could see them up closer.
We got thirty-four species in all, and it will be a trip to remember. If flowers are of interest to you, be sure and visit these areas in the next two weeks . Fall and Winter are on their way. The following species were seen: Mallard Duck, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Common Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Gambel’s Quail, Pied-billed Grebe, Eared Grebe, Western Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Coot, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, California Gull, Black Phoebe, Say’s Phoebe, Common Raven, Verdin, Rock Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, European Starling, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Great-tailed Grackle, House Finch, House Sparrow.
Just a few photos of what we saw:
September 12 - 13 2014
An invitation was given to the Red Cliffs Audubon to come spend some time in the Parashant National Monument and bird. How could we refuse? The Arizona Strip is a scenic, sculptured, solitary place apart, with none other like it. Those who live there, make a living there, must love it with all their hearts -- because it is way away from city life.
Arizona Strip BLM employees Shawn Langston and Jeff Young along with Sarah, the Intern at Parashant, were our guides. The group left at 4:00 pm on Friday and returned late Saturday afternoon. The accommodations were fabulous. Mostly like a lovely hotel, far from civilization. It was spacious with bath, kitchen, BBQ, patio and great company. In the evening hours the group did a little Owl Prowl with none showing, but the air was fresh and the pines were fragrant and . . . then we did find a Poorwill.
The Kaibab Squirrels were running around everywhere with that spectacular white tail. If you’ve never seen one, go to ‘Kaibab Squirrel’ on the internet. It was a wonderful place to spend time on the high and lonesome, beautiful, intriguing Arizona Strip.
Daylight brought us the following: Harris Hawk, Merlin, Zone-tailed Hawk, Acorn Woodpecker, Pigmy Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Chipping Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, American Kestrel, Western Bluebird, Plumbeous Vireo, Mourning Dove, Band-tailed Pigeon, Hammond's Flycatcher, Turkey Vulture, Wild Turkey, Orange-crowned Warbler, Cassin's Finch, Steller's Jay. A good time was had by all.
2nd Parashant photo by Marilyn Davis
Pine Valley Field Trip
July 12, 2014
A perfect day in Pine Valley is when it’s hot, hot, hot in St. George. Well, it was hot and so we made our way to higher elevation to look for birds. Birds started showing off in Central and all the way to Pine Valley. Then we went directly up canyon and what a treat! Birds were hiding out in the tops of the Ponderosa Pines singing their hearts out. The Lupine was in full bloom all over and the wonderful new campgrounds were happily in use. If you haven’t been to the camping areas recently, take a trip and enjoy a cool afternoon. This Field Trip was really enjoyable. It was great to be out.
Birds seen: Turkey Vulture, Great-tailed Grackle, Common Raven, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Western Tanager, American Robin, Red-breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, Western Wood-Pewee, Red-naped Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker (on side of Ponderosa feeding young of the year), Pine Siskin, Chipping Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, Bewick's Wren, Spotted Towhee, Wild Turkey with baby, Red-tailed Hawk.
Just a few of the photos from the trip:
Where the Santa Clara comes out of Pine Valley.
Please join us next time.
June 14, 2014
Where do you go when it’s triple digit temperature in St. George? Oak Grove . . . beautiful and cool Oak Grove. . . on the east side of the Pinevalley Mountain. When the elevation rises to over 6,000 feet it’s time for jackets! The mountain that was previously burned had grown green and full.
The group hit the mountain trails in hopes of finding lots of birds. Alas, very few were seen until they ventured back to the parking area and there in a thick stand of Oak and Pine were birds aplenty. The group then enjoyed birding sitting down . . . even while having lunch they could bird. It was a Great Field Trip! ! !
Birds seen: Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed hawk, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, White-throated Swift, Hairy Woodpecker, Western Wood-Pewee, Plumbeous Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Steller's Jay, Common Raven, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Virginia's Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Grace's Warbler, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Black-headed Grosbeak, House finch, Greater Roadrunner, and Brown-headed Cowbird. Here are a few photos taken be Marilyn Davis:
Normal Birders - except for Lauren
Resting in the shade - where are the birds?
The trees are full of bird(s)!
See? Right there.
Lauren leads the group in birding warm-up exercises.
Warmed up and scanning the skies.
Roadrunnners living up to their names.
Beautiful Red Hills this side of Piinevalley Mountain.
More red hills.
Join us next time!