March 8, 2011
Well, the date would indicate that we are on spring’s doorstep, but the storm yesterday says that winter still maintains a strong foothold. The moisture this winter has been wonderful in northern Utah and should bring on a great spring migration of birds as they head toward their respective breeding grounds. Saturday is swan day at Bear River Refuge and a great celebration of the migration for a spectacular bird. Linda and I spotted our first north bound swans in late January but now the numbers are steadily increasing. I grabbed Skipper (our pup) and we headed for the marsh. I wanted to scout out some areas for our tour on Saturday, as well as checking out what birds have made their return. The contractor is grading the county road to the tour loop in preparation for paving this spring and summer. That portion of the road is in great shape; unfortunately the same cannot be said for the tour loop. The rain and snow the last few days has made for a muddy mess. Happily, the birds don’t seem to mind so much. The Canada geese have paired up and seem to want to hang out on the road while pairs of Sandhill cranes were wandering in the tall grass. Pond 1 was holding large numbers of swans and ducks and Pond 2 had good numbers of waterfowl as well. There is a lot of open water and most of the birds are a good distance from the road and a good spotting scope would be helpful. We kept the truck headed down the road, as opposed to heading for the ditch or worse yet, the canal. Skipper enjoys the ride, mostly augering into my hunting coat and getting in some quality nap time. The pooch ain’t much help spotting birds and I don’t think he would provide much support if I got stuck. I didn’t see much along the west portion of the loop until I made the turn off D-line and headed for the main gate. This portion of the refuge had quite a few swans and geese, but the numbers of ducks, easily dominated by northern pintails was staggering. The icing on the bird cake today was watching eight bald eagles on the ice and perched on some dirt mounds - watching the ducks and swans - which I am sure they’d nab for a meal if the opportunity came up. Saturday should be a good outing for our visitors but we will probably have to restrict the tour to the D-line road and let the tour route dry out a bit.
- Brian Ferguson, Refuge Volunteer