Saturday, March 27, 2010

Swans and Songs

What a difference a week can make for birding. Two weeks ago, I participated in Utah's annual Tundra Swan Day with a birdwalk to see these lovely birds. The trip didn't quite turn out as planned - Utah's unpredictable spring weather intervened, and we spend quite some time on a ridge overlooking what we knew to be a flock of thousands of tundra swans, but seeing white birds through a white snowstorm floating on gray water under a gray sky doesn't lend itself to magnificent views. Fortunately, our leader - Bill Fenimore - kindly took us to another property where we were able to get much better views. Other sightings on that leg of the trip included dozens of bald eagles, different gulls, and a very cooperative horned lark that became the latest bird added to my ever-growing life list, bringing the total to 176.

Just a week later, the climate couldn't be more different. I went again to the Skipper Bay Trail near Utah Lake - one of my new favorite birding spots - and had the most enchanting encounter with a gregarious flock of red-winged blackbirds, watched flocks of foraging robins, laughed at agitated killdeer, and had a wonderful solo performance by a cooperative song sparrow. Rather than a snowstorm, the temperatures that day were mild and the weather pleasant; a truly beautiful weekend for the first weekend of spring.

So what will the next few weekends bring? Hopefully more opportunities for birding and more lifers for an eager birder!

If you're going into the field soon, these spring birding tips can help you make the most of it!

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