Saturday, July 14, 2012
Well - first off I must apologize for being so remiss in my blogging. But, I do have a good excuse, trust me. That said - birds are still around at the Refuge - even with the constant question of "Where is all the water?" by many-a-visitor.
We are definitely in a slight to moderate drought this year in northern Utah. With limited water coming in...Refuge management is keeping water only in priority nesting areas for the birds and that unfortunately means that many of our other units have dried or are drying up. But - do not be discouraged, oh birders, no. The birds have survived years much worse than this in the past - and I'm sure will again. And - right now it just means the birds are bit more concentrated in the wet areas and easier to find! Our tours have recently reported over 50 species spotted - including short-eared and barn owls, Caspian and Forster's terns, and lots of young from Cinnamon teal ducklings to gangly stilt juveniles and skittering rail and sora chicks. Grebe babies are now much to large to be allowed up onto Mom or Pop's back..so their fending for themselves, and the Refuge even had several pair of Sandhill crane colts born this year.
Also - in the hopes of staying positive in the face of this year's drought - I'm betting it could be a very good late summer / early migration for shorebirds on the Refuge. Already I have seen flocks of Wilson's phalaropes zipping around and heard my first few returning Greater yellowlegs. The avocets and stilts...now mostly finished with their rearing duties, are starting to bunch up in larger flocks and getting ready to stage before their long migrations southwards in a month or so. Maybe this low-water level during migration will bring the Refuge some visitors like Dunlin, Ruddy turnstones, Red knots, or Stilt sandpipers. You never know.
So don't fear the heat or the drought . . . see it as an advantage to observe what nature does in times of stress, and perhaps it will even help you alleviate some homo sapien stress while you're at it.