Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sandhills in Spring

Spring weather in Utah can be unpredictable, with a chilly start to a morning that leads to a warm day that leads to a fluffy snowstorm in the afternoon that finishes with a clear sunset and balmy breeze. On such days, one has to take advantage of birding whenever possible, and it is always possible to get lucky.

I got lucky last weekend, but it wouldn't seem so at first. We began our walk at one of the easternmost parks in Provo Canyon, beyond Bridal Veil Falls, but the partially cleared path was quickly obscured by avalanche debris. Not to worry, it was solid enough for sturdy footing, but along the entire way we only spotted a few mallards in the river reeds and quite a few song sparrows merrily singing. While that is pleasant, I'd been hoping for a few different birds, but no. The scenery was gorgeous, but the birds were absent.

Next, we drove down Center Street in Provo looking for a roost of turkey vultures I'd heard about, but either we missed the area or the birds were absent there as well. Strike two.

At the end of Center Street by Utah Lake, we turned toward Skipper Bay Trail. We were already down there, I reasoned, so we might as well investigate the recent sightings of the Harris's sparrow. Despite scrutinizing the area where the bird has been seen, however, I was only able to see European starlings, black billed magpies, American robins, and a lone killdeer. While this was an improvement on the paltry birding earlier in the morning, it still wasn't so exciting as I'd hoped.

As luck would have it, we drove a different way home, through back roads and recent developments interspersed with as yet unworked agricultural fields. Around a curve in the least likely of places, there was my treasure of the day: a pair of beautiful sandhill cranes, the first I've seen this year. They were quite close to the road and unperturbed by my presence, and I watched them forage for several minutes while they obliquely watched me in return.

Some birding days are better than others, but it pays well not to give up. Try a new location, look for different birds, and enjoy all those you see, and you'll have a very bird-iful spring. Happy birding!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Hi Melissa. My name is Lisa. I am so excited to have found your blog!
I lived in Utah from 99' to 2007 & then moved to Missouri. I had not paid too much attention to birds much until I moved to MO.(There are amazing birds there) The tons of trees were a helpful bonus.
I have recently moved back to Utah.
I miss all of my familiar birds and it's been slow to get any variety to come to me.
It's great to read about all you have seen all over. I am excited to explore more good birding areas. I have been down to the lake and the Canyons behind me and a wilderness park in PG.
Thanks for sharing.