Saturday, April 28
Sorry I haven't written for a bit...but the birding has been, well, just TOO good to be inside typing! But, today while I'm working I thought I'd try to get off a quick message to our friends and fellow birders out there in birdland.
International Migratory Bird Day is coming up on May 12th. All across the nation, Refuges, Parks and organizations will be throwing celebrations and having tours to enjoy the return of migratory birds to their area. Bear River is no exception. We're having a small open house to celebrate with games and movies and crafts - and the awards for the 2012 Junior Duck Stamp competition! This got me thinking...it is great to have a day to celebrate the amazing journies some of these birds make every year...twice! The Arctic tern is the longest - migrating from the tips of South America to the far northern tundra above the Arctic circle.
But when I'm out birding - especially around the Auto Loop at Bear River - I can't help celebrate Migratory Bird day EVERY DAY. I hear 30 little Savannah sparrow males singing and jostling for territory in a grassland and I'm thrilled to stillness at how none of them were here just a short week or two ago. I watch male Long-billed curlews (and their seemingly bored female counterparts) vociferously spiral above the grasslands showing the lovely russet colors of their udnerwings and think..."what were you guys and gals up to just a few weeks back? Did I see you when I was in Texas in January?" I drive on.
I arrive near the maintenance shop and am enthralled with the number and noise from flocks of foraging mixed swallows (Tree, Cliff, Barn, Bank and even Northern rough-winged). It is difficult to tell them apart at first - but then - if you listen closely, you can start to pick up their different dialects. Or, if you're lucky, in a moment of calm they'll aline the fences and canal crossing gaurdrails and you get a quick scan of them all sitting. I identify them quietly to myself..."Banky, Cliff, Cliff, Cliff, Barn! Cliff, Cliff, Cliff, Tree, Tree, Roughie!" I continue the drive.
Gulls. Thank you Franklin's gulls. I love them. Mainly, because most gulls I find very difficult to identify from other gulls with all their phases and stages and plumages...but the good-ol' brine-fly-eatin' Franklin's' I just love. With their handsome black heads and "red-lipped" bills, they are readily identifiable when they return (as they have just done) to the Refuge and the Great Salt Lake basin. Also - their much higher pitched (and a bit screamish) call is also pretty obvious. So thank you guys and gulls - I appreciate it, and welcome back. I'm rounding the bend.
Now, there are certainly MANY more birds on the Refuge right now. Migrating in to stay....migrating through to continue onward. Avocets and stilts abound. Ibis are always around. Herons and egrets are fishing. Birders tryin' to find sparrows are pishing. And then there's me. Enjoying every marsh wren, yellow-headed blackbird and (gasp) even brown-headed cowbird I see...and celebrating every day as Migratory Bird day...and feeling rather lucky that I get the chance to do so.