Utah County Birders Newsletter
August 9th, 2012
It is time for our Annual Birder Social. This year we are having the party at Dennis Shirley's house. We are having a pot luck dinner so bring something to share. Paper plates, cups, and utensils will be provided.
Date: August 9, 2012
Time: 7 PM
399 North Loafer Drive
Elk Ridge, Utah
Beginning birders are welcome.
August 25th, 2012
(Sat): 7:00am-11:00am - Provo Airport Dike.
Led by Eric Huish. Meet at the Provo River Parkway parking lot at the west end
of Provo Center Street.
by Bryan Shirley, UCB President
My Bird Bucket List
I think I started my “Bucket List” of birds I wanted to see some time in my life when I was in 3rd grade. I had to do a report on some kind of living creature in the world. My dad had just got home from Africa and with his help I ended up choosing the Bateleur Eagle found in Africa. That report is one of the few things that I can say I really remember from school. It has been 30+ years and I still remember parts of it today. I finally saw one in Ghana a couple of years ago. It was about a mile away and not a great look, but still one of my favorite birds of the trip. A few of my other top Bucket List Birds I have seen in the last few years are Harpy Eagle, Blakiston’s Fish Owl, Snowy Owl, and Jocotoco Antpitta.
Today I crossed one more bird off my bucket list – the Okinawa Rail. I first heard of the Okinawa Rail when I got a Japan bird book when I was 19. It has been on the top of my wish list ever since.
When we Utah birders think rails, we think of the marshes, but the Okinawa Rail lives in the mountains. It is practically flightless and lives in thick, primary forest. Introduced Mongooses decimated the population and restricted the rail to the nearly unpopulated northern tip of Okinawa. Add to that how secretive the rails are, how thick the forest is, and the fact that nobody dares to go into the forest because of an extremely poisonous snake called the Habu, and it is easy to understand how the Okinawa Rail wasn’t even discovered until 1982. That, of course, is exactly why it made it onto my wish list.
Most of the tour reports I could find involved a lot of time looking for rails, then eventually catching a glimpse of one when it ran across the road. They roost on logs or horizontal branches of trees, so a lot of people have more success finding them at night than during the daytime. A couple of the reports I read the people worked pretty hard and still never found one, so of course I was a bit worried as I made my way to Okinawa. The fact that I was going in August, peak typhoon season, had me worried too. As luck would have it, two typhoons were working their way toward Okinawa just before I got there, but one crossed just North of the island and one crossed just South of the island. Other than a bit breezy and a little rain the weather wasn’t too bad.
Before our trip we got a tip from a birder friend about a small village on the opposite side of the island from the historical areas that most birders look for the rails. The area around the village has become the center of the fight to save the rail. Thanks to a lot of mongoose traps, the rails are doing well in the area. We arrived this afternoon and in a couple of hours today we were able to see 11 rails! I was able to watch them feeding along the edge of the road and even got some decent photos too. What an awesome day! Once I got back to the room I could hardly wait to add a check mark by it in my bird book! Now that I have seen it, what’s next? Not sure, but luckily I have a really long bucket list I still need to work on.
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 .
Field Trip Report
Ptarmigan at Leidy Peak - July 14th, 2012
Photo by Brian Shirley
by Bryan Shirley
13 birders made a quick trip to Leidy Peak to search for White-tailed Ptarmigan. We met in Vernal at 7 AM under black and ominous skies. About half way up the Red Cloud Loop toward Leidy Peak it started pouring rain. I admit at one point I was thinking about giving up and heading back to Vernal, but as soon as we reached the trailhead the rain had almost stopped and we could see patches of blue sky around the mountain.
After seeing a few Gray Jays in the parking lot, we started up the trail toward the mountain. We hadn’t gone far before we had birders going everywhere. We had the mountain covered from top to bottom and all heading different directions, but no Ptarmigan. Eventually a female was located with 6 chicks and thanks to cell phones we were eventually able to get everybody there to get a look at the birds.
Yvonne Carter – Highland
A few Lazuli Buntings are still hanging around, and a first Rufus Hummingbird.
Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Rufous Hummingbirds galore!
Milt Moody – Provo
Bullock's Orioles and Rufous Hummingbirds -- a tie!
Steve Carr - Holladay
Cooper's Hawk - Zooming in and scaring the dickens out of all the feeder birds, but didn't catch any.
Dennis Shirley – Elk Ridge
Best yard bird(s) for July was a Plumbeous Vireo (7/11) and a Cassin's Finch (male)(7/15).
Additionally, I counted 46 Black-billed Magpie in my yard on 7/17. What a convention that was!