Utah County Birders Newsletter
by Bryan Shirley, UCB President
and Summer Mega-Rarities
As is often the case, this week a rare bird showed up in Utah while I was out of town. A few weeks ago a it was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. I got home a few days after it was last seen. This week it was a Dickcissel. Everyday I watched the reports of people seeing the bird and hoping it would hang around for a few more days. Today when I landed in Salt Lake I headed straight to Farmington. For a change I lucked out and finally had one stick around for me.
With migration over and everything on breeding territories the end of June seems like an unlikely time to get a mega-rarity like a Dickcissel. I was thinking about that while driving home today, then I read the email from Ryan O’Donnell on birdtalk about the lack of ebird reports during July. As Ryan stated in his email, local breeding birds are probably more important to ebird than reports of a rarity. His email got me thinking about the slow birding time in between spring and fall migration and wondering what rare bird records we have for July in Utah.
It turns out that July is a pretty good month for rare birds in Utah, but only for certain species. From the rare-bird finder page on utahbirds.org, it appears that July has more non-passerine rarities than passerine. Here are some of the rare species reported in July:
• Red-throated Loon
• Brown Pelican
• Reddish Egret (August 2, 2007)
• White Ibis
• Glossy Ibis
• Roseate Spoonbill
• Wood Stork
• Purple Gallinule
• Boreal Owl
• Elf Owl
• Magnificent Hummingbird
• Red-headed Woodpecker
• Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
• Brown Thrasher
• Painted Bunting (1st state record – July 24, 2007)
Use this month to enjoy the wonderful selection of breeding birds we have in Utah, but always be on the lookout for the next mega-rarity as well. It may be a Dickcissel in your backyard!
No Bird of the Month this Month.
If you would like to write an article for the Bird of the Month, please contact Oliver Hansen -- 801-378-4771 - firstname.lastname@example.org .
Highland Glen Park - 25 June 2011
Photo by Keeli Marvel
by Keeli Marvel
Nine Utah County Birders met on Saturday, June 25th for a field trip to Highland Glen Park. Birding was a little slow, but the group got great looks at numerous Black-headed Grosbeaks, hummers posing on tree tops, juvenile Western Scrub-jays foraging along the trails, and a Caspian Tern diving for fish at the pond. The Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a Belted Kingfisher were probably our highlights, and I believe were firsts for a couple of birders in our group. In spite of sharing the park with a half-marathon route (only 2 miles to go!), we had a good morning of birding and saw the following 27 species:
Highland Glen Park , Utah, US-UT
Jun 25, 2011 7:20 AM - 10:00 AM
27 species (+1 other taxa)
Mallard (Domestic type) 20
California Quail 3
Western Grebe 1
Swainson's Hawk 1
California Gull 1
Caspian Tern 1
Eurasian Collared-Dove 1
Mourning Dove 3
Black-chinned Hummingbird 4
Broad-tailed Hummingbird 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Northern Flicker 1
Western Kingbird 1
Western Scrub-Jay 5
Black-billed Magpie 1
Bank Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 6
Black-capped Chickadee 5
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4
American Robin 10
European Starling 8
Song Sparrow 2
Black-headed Grosbeak 15
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Western Meadowlark 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 3
House Finch 7
American Goldfinch 1
Backyard Bird of the
Shirley - Elk Ridge
I had an Osprey circling high over my back yard on 6/16/2011. The only water around is my bird bath so it's hard to imagine. A definite new yard bird!
Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Evening Grosbeak - I had a flock in May and a few stayed through the first few days of June.
Bruce Robinson - West Jordan
Sharp-shinned Hawk - Being chased by a pair of Western Kingbirds (nesting nearby?)
Milt Moody - Provo
Two clutches of California Quails.
Where Were You on May 14?
by Barbara Watkins
The big banner stretched across the entrance to Lake Abieta proclaimed “May 14 International Migratory Bird Day.” I was in Ethiopia on a trip led by Terry Stevenson, co-author of the field guides for East Africa and the Horn of Africa, and George Armistead. We were exploring Lake Lagano and Lake Abieta.
Tired from a long travel day, I had slept relatively late but still went searching for birds well before breakfast. Even before I had left my room, from my patio window I had seen a trickle of birds cruising along Lake Lagano’s shore. Taking a rather circuitous route down the hill, I caught some movement on the hillside - a couple of playful Black-backed jackal pups tussling under their mother’s watchful eye. From the previous evening I knew that one “hot spot” on the grounds was a frowsy acacia overhanging a small pool of water. There I encountered a delightful mix of small passerines - Brown-rumped Seedeaters, which are ubiquitous in this country but inexplicably endemic to the horn of Africa, Reichenow’s Seedeaters, Cut-throat males looking like they had just met Sweeney Todd, and charming Red-cheeked Cordonbleus. Every yellow bird had to be noticed because it might be a Baglafecht, Little, Rueppell’s, Village, or Vitteline Weaver, White-bellied Canary, or Yellow Bishop. Dipping into the blossoms of “hearts and flowers” spilling over the embankment walls and flowering acacia were three species of stunning sunbirds. The Old World equivalents of our hummingbirds, these iridescent nectar-feeders also have often difficult-to-identify females and glorious males with dazzling gorgets, frontlets, and tail streamers. At Lake Lagano, male Scarlet-chested Sunbirds are very dark brown, appearing black, with huge red gorgets on the throat and breast and a large emerald frontlet. Mariqua Sunbirds also appear dark until the sun reveals the males’ breastbands as shimmering turquoise and magenta. Beautiful Sunbird males are rather gaudy. Their flashing emerald throats are outshone by huge scarlet breast-bands flanked by butter yellow. Oh, and they have long tail-streamers. And one cannot help but giggle when someone calls, “Come look at these great black tits” when they spy the charming White-winged Black Tits flitting in the trees. The prize of the “before breakfast” birding was my best-ever look at a Red-throated Wryneck. This lovely woodpecker has a combination of barring and streaking and scalloping that field guides just don’t capture.
Before breakfast is served, the hotel crumbles bread at the base of trees near the dining room’s entrance. Not only does this attract the pretty small passerines, it lures in some bullies – a pair of Hemprich’s Hornbills. Beautiful African starlings – Blue-eared Glossy and Superb – also take advantage of the easy pickings as do African Mourning and Laughing Doves. A pair of White-bellied Go-away Birds and their fluffy fledgling (with a spiky punk crest) hop about in the acacias to investigate.
The breakfast buffet included fresh pineapple and papaya, scrambled eggs that I dressed up with red onions and chopped tomatoes, sausages and bacon, and an assortment of rolls and breads. This was one of the few places that served hot chocolate, so I indulged. Coffee drinkers had to make adjustments for Ethiopian coffee, which is reputedly well respected among coffee connoisseurs, is served very strong in small cups.
After breakfast, we head off for other habitats, including the dry environs of the saltwater Lake Abieta. At the lake itself, we find Greater Flamingoes and some shorebirds, including breeding plumaged Kittlitz’s Plovers, Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers that haven’t yet completed migration. In the grasslands, a pair of Abyssinian Ground-Hornbills are wandering among a few stray cattle looking for big invertebrates and small vertebrates. In the scrub around the lake are Cardinal Woodpeckers and Abyssinian Rollers. A pride of Ostriches appears among the trees, the male waving his wings as he herds his hens away from us. We stop near the guard station and watch a small water trough that attracts Red-billed Firefinches, Crimson-rumped Waxbills, and more Cut-throats and Cordonbleus. Just as we got back on the bus, I noticed three intriguing shapes huddled under the branches of an acacia. An adult Vermiculated Eagle-owl was roosting with two full grown juveniles. We all got out for great views and photos.
After lunch and a mid-afternoon rest, we were back in the field for more avian delights. We now visited an old government-owned hotel on the shores of Lake Lagano. The plantings around that hotel were more mature than those around our newly built lodgings. The grounds were teeming with people attending a wedding. Our prospects did not look good. Yet with a local guide we almost immediately found a roosting male Slender-tailed Nightjar right next to the roadway. He was extremely co-operative and simply ignored all the hustle and bustle as we “oohed and aahed” over his splendid cryptic plumage. African Paradise-flycatchers with long white tail streamers floated among the trees and Black-winged Lovebirds, an amazingly confiding species, investigated us as we viewed them. Besides the nightjar, the most astounding sighting was a pair of Clapperton’s Francolins, normally very shy birds, that calmly paraded around the grounds and provided outstanding views for everyone.
Dinner inevitably starts with very good soup, often vegetable or tomato. Fish, beef and chicken are the usual choices for an entrée. Chicken ranges from scrawny drumsticks that are tough but well seasoned to massive portions that are either mislabeled guineafowl or the product of steroids. Although we did not eat Ethiopian style food on May 14th, we did have it several nights.
An Ethiopian dinner consists of several selections of “bits” which are eaten without benefit of utensils. Bits are concoctions of diced meat (beef, chicken, lamb, fish, etc.) or lentils or beans and spices. They are served with enjira, the traditional Ethiopian “bread” which is really a sour, gray, spongy crepe served rolled up. Made from teff flour, enjira looks dreadful and tastes odd, but is a nice accompaniment to the spicy bits. Enjira is gradually unrolled as palm-sized pieces are ripped off and used to grab portions of bits. This is then popped into the mouth.
Added to my day list were many common African birds such as Egyptian Goose, Helmeted Guineafowl, African Fish Eagle, Orange-billed Parrot, Speckled Mousebird, and Pied Crow. Granted, most of the birds I saw on May 14 were not migratory, even within Africa, but I still enjoyed “International Migratory Bird Day” in Ethiopia.
for the newsletter being so late. I was out of town. We added a new grandson
to our family and I added 3 life birds to my list. - Cheryl
Thanks to all who have supported us in the past. If you are interested in officially joining us this year, make out a check to Utah County Birders for $15.00 and mail it to:
2831 Marrcrest West
Provo, Utah 84604
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