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UTAH COUNTY BIRDERS
Newsletter
January 1999


Contents


A State Record:

Merrill Webb Spots a Field Sparrow at the Lindon Marina

On Saturday the 9th of January at about 1:30 in the afternoon, Merrill Webb saw a Field Sparrow at the Lindon Boat Harbor. He reported the bird by phone about two hours later with one of the biggest understatements of the new year: "That’s a pretty good bird," he said, leaving a message on the answering machine of the newly reorganized Utah County Birders "Hot Line Center." Minutes later, at about 3:30, the message was received and the new "Code 5+ Hot Line System" swung into action. The new system quickly collapsed when pretty much all the birders on both phone trees were already out chasing birds somewhere. Luckily Eric Huish, Julia Tuck and Lois Clark were at home and a somewhat, stumpy, phone tree swung into action.

Sometime after 4:00, Judy Jordon, was casually birding towards the Lindon Marina, unaware of the rare sparrow lurking there. Suddenly she noticed a rather large pickup truck, driven by one hurrying birder, Eric Huish, pulling up behind her in an overbearing manner. Relieved to find a very nice Eric in a very mean truck, Judy joined in the search with Eric north of the marina gate. By 4:20, Milton Moody was approaching the two entranced birders, still as statues, binoculars leveled at the bushes across a small pond. Then there were three birders watching this rare little sparrow.

Shortly, Lois Clark and Darlene Amott arrived, in Lois’ new Jeep Grand Cherokee, a fitting conveyance for the Grand Dame of the Utah County birders. They arrived as the sun was setting and were unable to locate the little Field Sparrow. Fortunately, it has hung around and been seen by numerous birders from near and far. At last Report the Field Sparrow is still here.

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January Meeting

Wednesday, January 20th, 1999, 7:00 p.m.

We're meeting on a new day (on Wednesdays--permanently), in a new room (310--temporarily).

We’re having a Multifaceted Meeting:


Robin’s View

by Robin Tuck (robin@itsnet.com)

Christmas Is the Time of Year ...

It was a beautiful day, January 1, 1999. Julie and I drove around Utah Lake, stopping at our favorite spots, many quite productive and others deserted. Over by the elusive Secret Pond, near where the Bobolinks are seen in the summer, north of Goshen, we drove slowly down a dirt road pushing sparrows from tree to tree trying to get a good look. Finally, at the end of the row of trees we stopped and set up the scope. I heard children’s voices in the distance and saw a couple of hunters crossing a field. All was well. We turned around and drove out, spotting the hawk in the west field. We had been looking at the sparrows so intently we had misses it driving down the road. There it was, a short distance from the fence, not looking good at all. We could tell something was amiss, one wing was off to the side but it eyed us intently. Fearing the worse, we called Dennis, our friendly Game Enforcement Officer to tell him a hawk was down. Thanks for cell phones. Dennis told us to catch it and bring it to him. Easy for him to say.

I climbed the fence and found as I had feared, the hawk had been shot and blood was smeared on the grass. But as I came to her, she rolled over onto her back and presented talons and beak, a fearsome sight. She grabbed my coat by her talons and I lifted her off the ground, and a flood of blood spilled from her mouth, then another flood. We lifted her over the fence, then carefully maneuvered to wrap her in the coat, then placed her in the back of the vehicle and hurried off toward Dennis’ home. Fearing the worse, upon our arrival we gingerly opened the coat to find a much weaker adult female Rough-legged Hawk. She had been shot in the head and had lost a lot of blood. We left her with Dennis, having done all we could. She died during the night, really not having had much of a chance.

Rough-legged Hawks winter here, coming from the northern parts of Canada, where people don’t often go. Because of this, they are much more approachable than other hawks, often letting people get to within 50 feet before flying off. We don’t know if our Hawk friend was shot soaring or perched, but we know her lack of fear made her more vulnerable.

More new guns are handed out at Christmas than any other time, to kids and to hunters, and they beg to be tried out. Often, the target is not a tin can, but a magnificent hawk, like our friend. Dennis explained that a surge of 9 bird deaths occur this time of year simply because of Christmas. When in anguish I moaned "We ought to try to stop this from happening," Dennis simply said "I do my best."

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Field Trips 1999

by Dennis Shirley

Your Field Trip Committee recently met for lunch and planned the next three months’ activities. Current Committee Members include Dennis Shirley (chairman), Junece Markham, Carol Jean Nelson, and Reed Stone. The dates, locations, and target species are included in the schedule that follows. We have picked both weekdays and Saturdays realizing there will be conflicts (work, school, etc.), when some of us won’t be able to attend. But, hopefully, you’ll come when you can.

We’ve picked locations based on winter bird specialties and associated habitats. I think if you went on these trips, you’d see most of the wintering Utah bird species.

We plan to have lots of fun this year, just like in the past. We’re going to take our time, learn the birds, and associate with good friends.

Utah County Birders 1999 Winter Field Trips: January - March

 

Date

Length

Location

Target Species

Depart

from where

Return

January

Fri 1/15/99 day Bear River MNR Gulls 6:00 am Bean Museum 2:00 pm
Sat 1/23/99 1 day Cache Valley Blue Jay, Long-eared Owl, Harris’ Sparrow 6:00 am Bean Museum 6:00 pm
Sat 1/30/99 day West Utah Lake White-fronted Goose, Northern Shrike 7:00 am Bean Museum 1:00 pm

February

Thu 2/4/99 day Alta, Dimple Dell Park Rosy Finches, Harris’ Sparrow 12:00 noon Bean Museum 6:00 pm
Sat 2/6/99 day Antelope Island Oldsquaw, Scoters 6:00 am Bean Museum 2:00 pm
Sat 2/20/99 1 day West Desert Longspurs, Sparrows 6:00 am Bean Museum 6:00 pm
Fri 2/26/99 day Sundance, Provo Canyon Pygmy Owl, Winter Wren 7:00 am Bean Museum 1:00 pm

March

Sat 3/6/99 day No. Utah County, Jordan River Sparrows 7:00 am Bean Museum 1:00 pm
Sat 3/13/99 day So. Utah County, Mona Merlin, others 7:00 am Bean Museum 8:00 pm
Fri - Sat 19th & 20th over-night Cedar City, Washington Co. Spotted Owl, Rufous-crowned Sparrow Mar 19th 9:00 am Bean Museum Mar 20th

8:00 pm

Fri 3/26/99 day Wasatch Co. Early migrants 7:00 am Bean Museum 1:00 pm

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Southern Africa, September 8-19, 1998

by Natalie Tanner

We arrived in Cape Town, South Africa 10 days after the ‘Planet Hollywood’ bombing. Our biggest fear was that our trip was going to be canceled. We actually felt very safe, even though the bombing took place just a few hundred yards from our Hotel. I guess we figured they would probably not strike the same place twice!

Cape Town is a beautiful city with many unfortunate problems politically, as well as a number of other serious social issues. We thoroughly enjoyed our three days there. Birding highlights of Cape Town were; a half-day trip to Cape Point where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. It was an absolutely breathtaking scene. There were birds everywhere, and each one was something I’d never even seen in a book before. I had a great field guide along, Birds of Southern Africa, by Sinclair, Hockey & Tarboton [available at the Utah Birds Bookstore], which I was constantly putting to good use. There were also families of baboons running around, that you had to keep an eye out for.

On the way to Cape Point we stopped at ‘The Boulders State Park’. A sandy beach that you get to share with a good size number of Jackass Penguins, (trying to be re-named African Penguins). We got to literally wonder around with these Penguins! It was my first time to see Penguins in the wild, and it was terribly exciting for me. When you heard them vocalize you could tell where they got their name. While there, I picked up a brochure advertising two individuals you could hire to take you birding. I gave them a call, and got set up for a fabulous day of birding the following day! My guide’s name was Claire Spottiswoode. I had no idea how lucky I was to get her until we got out birding. She was from Cape Town, and had been a birder/botanist her whole life. She was a college student at Cape Town University doing graduate work in Botany and Ornithology. She was very young but had already been involved in a number of research studies, co-authored some birding books, etc. She was simply a fabulous guide who knew every bird and plant we came across. We began the morning at a Botanical Gardens called Kirstenbosch, there in Cape Town. It was a birder’s dream, not to mention it made you want to become a botanist. Here was saw around 35 species. We saw four of our days five species of canaries, (Cape, Forest, Blackheaded & Yellow). We got beautiful looks and photos of nearly every thing we saw. The Sunbirds (Orangebreasted, & Lesser Doublecollared) were absolutely brilliant in the early sunlight.

Next she took us to a Wildflower preserve where we saw 25 species of grassland birds. Some of these were, Richard’s (Grassveld) Pipit, Cisticola (Cloud, Greybacked, & Levaillant’s), Grassbabler, Redcapped & Thickbilled Larks, and a number of other great birds.

On to the West Coast National Park, and a Rock Quarry, where we saw most of the rest of our birds for the day. Whitefronted, Threebanded, Kittlitz’s, Chestnutbanded, Crowned, & Blacksmith Plovers, Cape Teal, Cape Shoveller, Black and African Marsh Harriers, a beautiful Southern Black Korhaan, Malachite Sunbird, African Hoopoe, Jackal Buzzard, and a Black Eagle’s nest with young and adults present. My guide was most excited by the sighting of a tiny little quail, the Blackrumped (Hottentot) Buttonquail. We had lunch beside some trees with colonies of Cape Weaver birds busily weaving. We drove past a huge flock of beautiful Greater Flamingos. We ended our wonderful day with an even 100 species. All of them but about 3, were life birds for me!

Our travels took us up to the Chobe River in Botswana, where we stayed in a Safari Lodge for 3 days. We got boat trips that showed us the river birds and wildlife, and rides in Range Rovers to see the land birds and animals. It was absolutely fascinating. I felt like I was getting to live a lifelong dream. It was just like watching a nature special on television, but you were in it! This is where we saw five species of beautiful Kingfishers. There were Rollers, Bee-eaters (Carmine, Little, Swallowtailed, & Whitefronted). Lots of Hornbill species, Eagles, Hawks, and several species of Vultures. We saw six species of Starlings, but they were beautiful.

We went to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, then on to my favorite spot. This was a Safari Lodge on the Sabi Sabi River in South Africa. Just outside Kruger Park. This was a much smaller river than the Chobe. This lodge was much more remote and private than the Chobe River. We were supposed to join up with a ranger and group that we would stay with the rest of the time. I found out at the Chobe River Lodge that most people could care less about what magnificent bird we are racing past. We were lucky enough to find one of the rangers was a birder. I asked if I could put together a group who wouldn’t mind looking at the birds in addition to the game. We found some great sports who were excited about seeing birds and we had our group. Our ranger was delighted. He loved birds, but he said no body ever really asked about them. We saw many of the same species that we saw at Chobe, but a lot of new ones. A few of the birds our ranger was most excited about were the Woollynecked Stork, and the Little Banded Goshawk. We ended the trip with a list of 225 bird species. All but 8 of them were life birds for me.

I meant to keep this brief, but there was so much to tell! When you add the incredible African mammals to the bird list, you just can’t beat it. I was afraid our Africa trip was not going to be able to live up to my expectations, but if far exceeded them. I have a complete bird list, book, and photos for anyone who is interested. Thanks for hanging in there.

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Utah County Birders Treasurer Report for 1997 & 1998

by Beula Hinckley

INCOME 2/1/97 to 12/31/98

Balance over $258.48
Members’ dues paid 1997 $710.00
Members’ dues paid 1998 $815.00
BYU pay. 250 booklets $500.00
Booklets sold (Robin T.) $100.00
Amazon Books $32.45
Interest earned 1997-98 $36.52

Total Income 1997-98

$2,452.45

EXPENSES 2/1/97 to 12/31/98

Newsletter expenses 1997-98 $861.64
Pay for booklets & patches 1997 $850.00
Setting up birdnet $109.00
Misc. expenses $8.23

Total Outgo

$1,828.87

BALANCE

$623.58

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Special Bargain!

1999 Membership only $10

Due to great management, frugality and probably the raging bullish economy, the Utah County Birders have a budget surplus (as you see in Beula’s report above). This year’s membership dues are only $10. Partial year dues for those joining in the middle of the year will be assessed at $1 per month. These dues are optional – so please sign up with Tuula Rose, in any event, so you’ll be included in the many activities and events with this – if I might say so – very nice group of people.

Please contact our new secretary-treasurer, Tuula Rose at the first opportunity. Make checks payable to "Utah County Birders."

Tuula Rose
(801) 377-5477
1065 East 560 North
Provo, UT 84606


Lessons from the 1998 Contest

I like birding contests, and apparently, so do you. Virtually every letter bringing the contest form to me also contained a message of thanks, all of which I appreciated.

Twenty four birders participated in the contest (as reported to me by January 13). I was impressed by the effort put in volunteer service and field trips. Several people had problems getting visitors to come to the club meetings, but everyone tried and some new people actually joined Utah County Birders as a result.

The most important part of the contest was, naturally, viewing birds. Note that the contest was to meet the standard of viewing an average of 98 birds a quarter. Fortunately, this was an average. Many of us had problems finding that many in the Winter or Fall but the Spring and Summer more than made up for it.

Even though we were measured against a standard, it is fun to examine the numbers and see who did the best in each quarter. Dennis Shirley found the most species in the Winter Quarter, at 162 and again in Spring Quarter at 210. Merrill Webb took over the lead for both the Summer and Fall Quarters at 203 and 143 respectively. If we ignore these two ‘super birders’ and examine the numbers from us ordinary birders, Junece Markham lead with 125 in Winter, Julia Tuck led in Spring with 198, Flora Duncan led with 177 in Summer, and again Junece Markham led in Winter with 133.

Thank you all for participating in the contest. Awards will be distributed at the January 20 Utah County Birders Meeting. See you there.

The next contest will be next year, 2000. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. For 1999, we will have a series of Challenges which will be described in detail at our next meeting.

Birder Winter Spring Summer Fall Average Total Species
Merrill Webb 145 206 203 143 174 258
Junece Markham 125 188 163 133 152 253
Dennis Shirley 162 210 145 131 162 245
Tuula Rose 108 170 153 118 137 245
Julie Tuck 122 198 119 88 131 237
Flora Duncan 98 185 177 103 140 234
Robin Tuck 108 190 153 105 139 234
Stan Smith 100 147 162 84 123 230
Ned Hill 106 173 130 120 132 226
Carol Nelson 102 146 165 112 131 220
Cheryl Peterson 113 161 164 117 138 219
Bonnie William 105 151 145 115 129 218
Lois Clark 116 156 118 112 125 218
Eric Huish 113 136 158 109 129 215
Lella Ogden 100 172 143 113 132 214
Darlene Amott 112 164 129 98 125 214
Reed Stone 113 154 137 121 131 212
Alton Thygerson 74 147 147 67 108 209
Judy Jordan 106 141 122 103 118 204
Alona Huffaker 98 126 130 90 111 188
Mary Lou Huffmon 79 111 101 106 99 172
Matt Devries 112 149 94 119 118 0
Kay Stone 104 138 127 101 117 0
Pia DEvries 112 149 94 112 116 0

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"Code 5+ Hot Line"

We have set up a NEW HOT LINE system – it has two parts:

For those NOT on the Birdnet
You will get information about "rare" and "occasional" birds through the regular Hot Line system. However, these sightings will be phoned in to the "Hot Line Center" as soon after the bird is spotted as possible, so that as many people as possible can see the bird.
For those ON the Birdnet
You will get information about "rare" and "occasional" birds by phone rather than by Email. So, if you don’t check you Email a lot during the day, you won’t miss a great bird.
How to sign up:
Call the "Hot Line Center" (Junece Markham - 373-2487 or Eric Huish - 785-3478 or Milton Moody - 373-2795) and we’ll sign you up.

Where does the name, "Code 5+ Hot Line" come from?

Come to the Utah County Birders meeting on WEDNESDAY, the 20th of January at the Bean Museum, ROOM 310 where Dennis Shirley will present his new scoring system for sightings. Every bird sighting is NOT created equal !!!

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State Hotline Highlights

BOX ELDER COUNTY

Terry Sadler - An apparent ICELAND GULL was seen at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (BRMBR) on Monday, 12/14. The bird appeared to be in second-winter plumage, and was seen about one-half mile west of the western-most bridge on the south side of the auto tour loop;. This is the second report of an Iceland Gull in Utah, the first coming last winter, also from BRMBR.

Keith Evans, Jack Rensel, Arnold Smith - An adult GLAUCOUS GULL was seen at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (BRMBR) on Saturday, 01/02.

Mark Stackhouse, Matt Thorum - It was seen again on Saturday, 01/09, along with a first-winter GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL in the same area. The birds were amongst thousands of other gulls, including Thayer's, Herring, California and Ring-billed Gulls.

CACHE COUNTY

Bob Atwood - Three HOODED MERGANSERS, including one male, were on the pond at first dam in Logan on Monday, 01/04 (BA). Five LONG-EARED OWLS were at a roost east of Mendon on Sunday, 01/03. The roost was first discovered during the Logan Christmas Bird Count on 12/19.

DAVIS COUNTY

Alan Godwin, Mark Stackhouse, Larene Wyss - A HARRIS' SPARROW was seen during the Salt Lake City Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on Sunday, 12/20. The bird was on the west side of Redwood Road just south of the Skypark Airport in West Bountiful. Also on the Salt Lake City CBC, on Sunday, 12/20, an adult NORTHERN GOSHAWK and a WINTER WREN were seen at Mueller Park in Bountiful.

Sue Reehm (of KY) - Along the Antelope Island Causeway, a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER was seen on Sunday, 12/20.

Cliff Weisse - A RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was seen on Saturday, 12/19 at mile marker 2.

Tom Williams - Two LAPLAND LONGSPURS were seen along the Antelope Island Causeway on Friday, 12/25. The birds were at about the halfway point of the causeway.

IRON COUNTY

Priscilla & Steve Summers - A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was seen in Cedar Valley, west of Cedar City, on Saturday, 12/19. The bird was seen at the intersection of 4100 West and 2800 North, west of the Lund Highway.

SALT LAKE COUNTY

Alan Godwin, Mark Stackhouse, Larene Wyss - A ROSS' GOOSE was seen on the Salt Lake City CBC, on Sunday, 12/20, at the International Center west of the Salt Lake International Airport. The bird was in the pond behind the Airport Hilton Hotel, in amongst numerous Mallards and domestic geese.

UTAH COUNTY

Sue Hinde - A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was seen along S.R. 68 (Redwood Rd.) west of Utah Lake on Thursday, 12/24. The bird was in a flock of Horned Larks about 1/4 mile north of the Mosida Ranch.

Merrill Webb - On the Provo CBC, on Saturday, 12/19, a GREEN HERON was seen at the Oxbow section of the Provo River, about 1 mile upstream from the mouth, a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was seen just north of the Orem Cemetary, a SAW-WHET OWL was seen at Paul Ream Park on the Provo River, and a late LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was found at the East Bay Golf Course.

Beula & Ed Hinckley - A WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was seen along S.R. 68 (Redwood Rd.), west of Utah Lake, about 1/4 mile south of the sign for Mosida Ranch on Saturday, 01/02.

A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was also seen on the same day in a flock of Horned Larks near that same location (B&EH).

Tom Williams - A NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL was seen in Hobble Creek Canyon near Springville on Saturday, 12/26. The bird was about 500 feet below the entrance to Kelley's Grove.

Caren Brereton - A late AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN was seen on Utah Lake at the Utah Lake State Park marina on Tuesday, 12/29.

Leena Rogers, Tuula Rose - A pair of HOODED MERGANSERS was seen on Spring Lake south of Payson on Saturday, 01/02.

Merrill Webb - A FIELD SPARROW was found at the Lindon Boat Harbor on Saturday, 01/09. It was seen again by many observers on Sunday, 01/10. The bird has been in a mixed flock with juncos, Tree Sparrows and Song Sparrows in the brush and small wood lot to the east and south of the boat harbor parking lot. The boat harbor is located on Utah Lake just west of the Geneva Steel Plant. This is the first legitimate record of Field Sparrow in Utah.

WASATCH COUNTY

Tuula Rose, Christian Peay, Milton Moody - A NORTHERN SHRIKE was seen where the Provo River enters Deer Creek Reservoir on Friday, 12/11

Mark Stackhouse, many observers - another NORTHERN SHRIKE was seen on Saturday, 12/12 near the Wallsburg arm of the reservoir.

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Mark Stackhouse - A GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW was seen on the St. George CBC on Tuesday, 12/29. The bird was in the fields along the Virgin River north of the Bloomington exit from I-15.

Dennis Shirley - Another GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW was seen at Snow Canyon SP on Monday, 12/28. The bird was in the picnic area near the park headquarters.

Mark Stackhouse, Matt Thorum - Many RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROWS were seen on the Zion NP CBC on Monday, 12/28. Nine of these were seen in two flocks along Pine Creek, one flock just above the bridge, and the other just below the bridge in Zion NP.

WEBER COUNTY

Bob Brodestein, Bill Fenimore, Jack Rensel - A VARIED THRUSH was found during the Ogden CBC on Saturday, 12/19, coming to a feeder at 1300 East and 5375 South in South Ogden.

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1999 Executive Committee

President
Darlene Amott
Adjunct
Matt De Vries
Secretary-Treasurer
Tuula Rose
Field Trips
Dennis Shirley
Programs
Robin Tuck
Ned Hill
Advertising
Lois Clark
Webmaster
Weldon Whipple
Newsletter
Milton Moody