Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Playing at a New Pond

It's always nice to discover a new birding location, a great spot to see different birds with a different view than your very familiar local trails. Over the weekend, I joined a bird walk with Bill Fenimore of the Wild Bird Center in Layton, and we visited Beus Pond in Ogden. It's a nice, medium-sized pond with a rich riparian habitat: open water and flowing streams even in the winter, many nesting boxes for the local waterfowl, marshy and reedy areas for cover, and crabapple trees for winter food along the park's perimeter - all ideal for birds. The park is even well planned for birders: ample parking that won't disturb the birds, a well groomed path around the pond and through some forested patches, feeders kept filled to attract numerous songbirds to great views, and a small dock projecting slightly into the pond for excellent waterfowl views and interaction.

Over the course of the hour-long visit, we spotted more than a dozen species on even a drab winter day, with some remarkable views of wood ducks and mallards swimming and preening, black-capped chickadees stealing seeds from the feeders, spotted towhees foraging in the brush, a brown creeper flitting up tree trunks, and a sharp-shinned hawk poised for a hopeful lunch. It's a lovely spot, and I can't wait to visit again, particularly during migration seasons and spring, when the ducks are fledging.

Bill Fenimore is a wealth of birding knowledge and local history of wildlife management, and his bird walks are always a pleasure. On this occasion, he shared with us some of the history of Beus Pond and its magnificent population of wood ducks. Wood ducks are not widespread in Utah, and not much habitat is suitable for them locally. Beus Pond, however, is an ideal location, and about 20 years ago a group of wood ducks with clipped wings (to prevent them from leaving) was introduced to the pond. The birds were well cared for with the nest boxes and careful monitoring, and they have thrived. In recent years, reports of wood ducks have been confirmed in adjacent areas, proving that the introduction has been successful and the duck population is growing.

Beus Pond is a wonderful birding location, and I can't wait to go play again when even more birds will join the game.

No comments: