September 13, 2008
Nobody told us..... we didn’t ask..... and when we got to the Pahranagat Wildlife Preserve... there was no water! Dry as a bone. The Cottonwoods were really stressed as were all the plant life that were used to using the water from the lake. We were told fishermen had come to fish..... and no fish. Someone had taken the gray, dried up lake cracks, chipped them out like they were cinder blocks, and started to build a wall. Weird! We were told the dam had structural problems. Water was drained out for repairs, and to rid the reservoir from carp. The lake should start to fill back up October 15th.
Soooooooo, to make a disappointing field trip turn into a great field trip, we drove up the road a ways to Hilo and to the Key Pitman Wildlife Management Area. We stopped under some large Cottonwoods, and wow! What a treat! All the displaced wildlife must have gone to this place.... and we were there! Wilson’s Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow Warbler, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a Townsend’s Warbler. Bewick’s Wren, Marsh Wren, and Rock Wren. A Warbling Vireo, and Cassin’s Vireo. A Song Sparrow, Lincoln Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Brewer’s Sparrow, and White-crowned Sparrow. Lesser Goldfinch, and American Goldfinch. Western Wood-Pewee, Black Phoebe, and Say’s Phoebe. Great Blue Heron, White-faced Ibis, Northern Shoveler, American Coot, Canada Geese, Rudy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, White Pelican, and Ring-necked Duck. A Common Raven, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Rough-winged Swallow, and Turkey Vulture. All this life, and we hardly moved but a few feet. It helped to have a leader like Kevin Wheeler to point out the identification marks some of us missed.
A Scrub Jay, Steller’s Jay,
and a Roadrunner were found
on the way home, along with
27 Mule Deer (lots of young
ones), having an evening
meal of tasty, green alfalfa
in Enterprise. There
surprises on a Red
Cliffs Audubon Field Trips.
take off at Glendale to Moapa.
Go west until the hills of lava show
up and they are what catch the water
for those valleys. So after
lots of dry nothing..... here are
the green fields and water. We
went through Alamo, skipped the road
going to Rachael (aliens out there)
(area 51) then on to Hilo and then
the Preserve. On the way
home we went to Caliente, Panaca,
Beryl, Enterprise....... Veyo.....
Breaks Field Trip
Saturday, July 12, 2008
It was a wonderful cool retreat to go to Cedar Breaks on Cedar Mountain in the middle of July. We left behind hot, sticky weather, and the need to stay indoors out of the sun. We found refreshing cool air, the smell of green grasses and a zillion flowers blooming. What a treat! If we were correct, bird life would also be looking for a cool place to spend the summer months. Nine brave souls, with Pam Wheeler as leader, ventured to the Chessman Lookout on to the trail going to the Alpine Pond. The spring rains seemed to sprout every available seed laying dormant in the ground, for I have never seen so many colorful flowers on Cedar Mountain before. Were we here to see birds? Were we here to see flowers? Were we here to enjoy the cool? This was a great package!
The journey to the Alpine Pond was a wonderment itself. We could barely find the trail through the flowers. Lots of dead evergreens from the Bark Beetle, but a hay-day for the insect lovers. Birds were flying everywhere..... and food was abundant. We saw Downy, Hairy, and Red-shafted Woodpeckers; Yellow-rumped Warblers, Pine Grosbeaks, Hermit Thrush, Mountain Chickadees, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Flycatcher, Brown Creepers, Western Wood Pewee, Pine Siskins, Gray-headed Juncos, Chipping Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, House Wrens, Steller’s Jays, Gray Jay, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Western Tanagers, Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Robins, Raven, and a Violet Green Swallow.
We looked for hawks and found none. We even looked for the Three-toed Woodpecker, and found none. But it was a perfect day... to be with good friends, to be in cool, fresh air, and to see one of God’s scenic landscapes.... it had to be perfect.
Field Trip of a Lifetime
April 12, 2008
When you tell people you are going to a sewer lagoon..... their faces make an uggggg look, and an uggggg sound. That is...... unless they are birders. When birders hear you are going to a sewer lagoon their eyes sparkle and they excitedly ask... "when are you going...can I go with you"? What a difference! People need to be educated about the great things found at a sewer lagoon.
The Red Cliffs Audubon Field Trip to the Henderson Ponds on Saturday, April 12 was a memorable one for sure. April is Spring in that part of the country. The Henderson Ponds were full of crazy, decked out male birds, trying to impress the females. There was splashing, displaying, singing, swooping and diving. We got to see it all, and here are the ones we saw: Canada Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Gamble's Quail, Eared Grebe, Snowy Egret, Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Least Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe, Ring-billed Gull, California Gull, Mourning Dove, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Black Phoebe, Common Raven, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Verdin, Marsh Wren, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Crissal Thrasher, American Pipit, Lucy's Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, House Sparrow.
That’s a pretty good day’s find!
The water in the ponds was clear.
The birds were lovin' it. There
were lots of visitors looking for
birds. We got to meet people from
Europe, Canada, Minnesota,
Henderson, Las Vegas, and
SAGE GROUSE FIELD TRIP
Leaving St. George at 5:30 a.m. meant you must get up way early, but it was well worth it because we were going to see Sage Grouse at their finest. Our group traveled to East Canyon in Cedar City where we joined up with our DWR trip leader. She took us to Alton, Utah and beyond to a gorgeous open valley with the pink hills of Bryce Canyon in the distance.
It looked like winter. The ground was covered with snow that sparkled in the sunlight. Sure enough, just a few miles down a frozen mud road we saw the Sage Grouse. Our first sighting, close to the road, were males, conspicuous with spiky feather displays, and their large air sacs thumping a mating ritual across the frozen morning air. Our arrival spooked the Grouse; they moved back a hundred yards, and then resumed their mating dance. The males displayed in the open, and the females, less conspicuous, were at the base of some large clumps of sagebrush.
This is the southernmost lick for breeding grounds in southern Utah. Alton has always been one of our favorite spots, with high alpine meadows, large sagebrush, nice people, and great wildlife. We found that this historic breeding ground may soon disappear as strip-mining takes over this year.
What makes Sage Grouse pick one small area for their breeding ground is unknown, but they always come back to the same spot. Hopefully this group will be able to find a second area as they are displaced.
This had to be a favorite field trip. Not only did we see Sage Grouse, but a Golden-eye sitting on a snow bank, a large group of Wild Turkeys, Steller's Jays, Scrub Jays, Mountain Bluebirds, Western Bluebirds, Magpies, Chickadees, Red-tailed Hawk, Ravens, Red-wings, and more. If you can make it, come with us on another field trip to the Henderson Ponds on April 12. Thanks to Shirley Surface for sharing her photos.