Friday, August 14, 2009

Getting a Life

Summer is a superb birding time, but unfortunately that also means it's not the best time for blogging. For the past several weeks I've been busy cleaning and refilling feeders, traveling to see new birds, taking regional birdwalks, and otherwise getting out into the birding world instead of sharing my experiences here in the virtual one.

The best news is that I've added quite a few birds to my life list, both from my travels and from a phenomenal trip to Antelope Island. There, the new birds I spotted were:

  • Franklin's Gull
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Red Necked Phalarope
  • Chukar
  • Say's Phoebe
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Lark Sparrow

In addition to these new lifers, we saw dozens of other species: burrowing owl, western tanager, sandhill crane, white faced ibis, black necked stilts, eared grebes, killdeer, California quail, willets and more. Antelope Island is truly a birder's paradise, not only for the wide variety of species, but for the wonderful behaviors you can observe. We saw the phalaropes herding brine shrimp on the shallow waters of the Great Salt Lake and Franklin's gulls bobbing their heads to feed on brine flies in the morning breeze, as well as a peregrine falcon calmly observing the world after breakfast and western meadowlarks singing their greeting to the day. What a treat to live so close to this wonderful location; I cannot wait to go again.

Outside of Utah, my travels have introduced me to another lifer: the elegant tern. I was able to watch these agile fliers dive into the waters off Long Beach, California while they fished, often getting mobbed by Heerman's gulls who wanted a taste.

Back home again, my backyard and its new landscaping is continuing to draw in birds. Not only have my mourning doves, house finches, western scrub jays and lesser goldfinches been enjoying the full feeders all summer, but a female black headed grosbeak discovered the black oil sunflower seed and the black chinned hummingbirds have been monopolizing their nectar feeders quite frequently. Just this week the first of the migrating rufous hummingbirds appeared, and I can add a barn swallow to my backyard list after watching them perch and preen on our defunct television antenna.

Birding is truly amazing, whether at home or abroad, and summer is a special time to find new birds, nestlings, fledglings, and many other friends at your feeders. I hope your summer has been as avian rich as mine!


Elizabeth said...

Nice blog!

I visited Jordanelle State Park near Heber City, Utah almost a month ago. I saw tons of swallows, but they moved too quickly for me to determine what type of swallows they were.

Sparverius said...

Great summer update. I would love to know what you are doing in your backyard to make it a bird yard.

Frank Baron said...

I'm not a serious birder but lately I've come to appreciate our feathered buddies more and more. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Glad you had such an enjoyable time.

Melissa said...

Thanks for the great comments, everyone, I'm glad you're enjoying my birding adventures. Sparverius - I'm doing quite a bit to transform my pathetically bare yard! The first step this year was to widen the flowerbeds and create a "bird bed" in the center of the yard around the maple tree we planted to give space for feeders and what will become bird-friendly landscaping. I also included a bed to grow birdseed, as well as a dust bath. We'll see how the planning goes for more projects this fall, so stay tuned for updates!