bearriver Blog

The BIRDING Stamp

Federal Duck StampSaturday, Sept. 22, 2012

There is a sound in the wetlands this morning, that not every birder loves...and that is understandable.  Today is the youth hunt in Utah, and the Refuge is proud to host some excellent hunt areas to allow these young sportsman to learn waterfowl ID and sportsmanship. Each one of our young hunters will have paid $15 for a duck stamp..as well as their parents that are with them.  $14.80 of each stamp goes directly for purchasing or lease of wetlands so very needed by our migratory birds.  It is for this reason I prefer to call it not the hunting stamp or even just the duck stamp...but the birding stamp.

I urge all birders who enjoy birding on public lands and refuges around the country to purchase a Federal Duck stamp each year - even if you do not support hunting.  It is about MUCH more than that. Many of our Refuges (like Bear River) are free of charge and many of our Refuge parcels were acquired with duck stamp funds. The duck stamp is not only one of the most efficient funding sources for conservation in the United States, it is a great educational tool as well.  The Jr. Duck Stamp program gives kids the chance to learn more about waterfowl and conservation through art.  Many birders wear their duck stamps proudly and get asked about them.  Word of mouth is one of the best ways to tell other birders about this great program.  I like to give them as gifts...especially to my friends and family who really have all they need - I give them the gift of helping and caring about our wetlands and waterfowl...not to mention a beautiful stamp that can be turned into a  pin or keychain so very easily.

So during the upcoming season . . . consider giving a gift that will continue to help ensure the birding spots that we all  love will still be there in years to come.

 - Jason

" Yo, where my peeps at?!"

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Peep.

What do you think of when you see or hear that word?  Is it the sound a baby chick makes?  Is it a glutenous, sugary, glob-o-goo shaped like a duck or bunny?  Is it a sound you DON'T make when your parents tell you not to? 

Peep to me has meant many things through my life.  First being the marshmalloy treat to be found around the Easter holiday.  Then...as I grew older and moved to NYC - the urban young man in me learned that your "peeps" were your friends . . . the local lads and lasses you hung with and perhaps got in some trouble with. But then I grew a little more and peep has become a whole new thing...as it probably has to many of you.  Peep is the term for any tiny little shorebird (Least, Western, Semipalmated sandpipers..to name a few) that are hard to tell apart at a distance, especially in the Fall.  When you're not sure which species they are... ya just call them a "peep."  I think the word comes from the tiny sounds they make while feeding and not their resemblence to the sugary treats...but I'm not sure.  All I know is, knowing the word peep makes me feel good about not being able to tell a Least from a Western from a Semipalmated sandpiper when they're flying away from me at speed.  I know many others have had the same problem and have collectively adopted the word peep to describe them. 

And speaking of peeps . . . (the birds, not my homies) there were lots of them on the Refuge this past week, of almost every species to be expected, as well as some of their larger cousins such as Baird's and Pectoral sandpipers. 

So, while we await the return of the edible and delicious peeps delivered by the Easter bunny . . . get out to the Refuge and check out the live and just as adorable ones that are stopping through and filling up in our wetlands and mudflats.

Happy Birding!

Jason

Return of the Ruddy!

Ruddy Duck Sept. 5, 2012

It's that time of year again!  (No, not tax time...phew!) It's waterfowl time on the Refuge. As temperatures begin to dip...flocks of ducks and geese begin to arrive for their southward migration.  Some will stay and feed on Refuge wetlands for months...dining on sago pondweed, alkali bulrush seeds and macroinvertebrates.  Many species of waterfowl - from duck to swan to goose - can be found passing through the Refuge...and this week...it's the Return of the Ruddy!

Now - it's true - small numbers of Ruddy ducks, the chubby-cheeked and stiff-tailed diving duck, do breed on the Refuge, but they usually are not seen in the hundreds to thousands as they can be seen right now during migration.  Unit 2, the water in the center of the Auto Loop - and especially the deeper southeast end - seems to be a favorite spot for the large flotillas of Ruddies right now, as well as grabbags of earged grebes!  Short and stocky and low to the water like a sawed-off submarine, Ruddies are easily picked out even in just silohuette.

And don't forget all the other waterfowl arriving too.  Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Mergansers may start arriving any time...and the wetlands are already being inundated by Pintail, Mallard and Teal!  So enjoy a motor around the loop and while you do...watch for a wave from many a stiff tail of a Ruddy duck!

 - Jason