Friday, December 21, 2012
While many people are celebrating the Winter Solistice...and others are "celebrating" the end of the world (if you believe the Mayans)...I'm thinking back to the excellent time I had on Wednesday taking part in the Christmas Bird Count on the Refuge!
The 113th year of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count is in full swing all around the country, and this past wednesday our friends from Wasatch Audubon ( www.wasatchaudubon.org ) were here to help us count the birds on several portions of the Refuge. This fun and easy..and now free ... citizen science project is a great way to get outdoors during the holiday season and enjoy the birds and the beauties of nature.
Wednesday was a brisk and chilly morning, leaving the majority of Refuge wetlands frozen over and waterfowl numbers a little lower than in past years...but there were still small pockets of ducks, geese and swans. Rough-legged hawks and Northern harriers were numerous and enjoying the weather. And along with many of the species that we expected to find on the Refuge during the count...were a few that were unexpected. First thing in the morning, at our feeder station near the Wildlife Education Center, we had a lovely little Common Redpoll. It is believed this is a first record for the Refuge. These little irruptive finches (as well as Evening grosbeaks and Red crossbills) are being seen all across Utah this year.
A few other highlights from the count this year: a Prairie falcon, a Thayer's gull, and THREE owl species...including a Great horned owl, a Barn owl and several Short-eared owls!
Christmas Bird Counts continue across the country through the first week in January - so if you're looking for something fun to do after all the food is eaten and gifts have been opened - contact your local Audubon chapter and join in the count!
Happy Birding and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!