Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bear River MBR 7/27--SWAINSON'S HAWK, Ring-necked Pheasant, Western Grebe, Clark's Crebe

After lunch we drove up the interstate to the northern wetlands of the Great Salt Lake, a place that reminded the Jerseyites of Brig except bigger, and better, with the water actually controlled for wildlife. On the road in, I got my next life bird of the trip, SWAINSON'S HAWK, just sitting in a field. Shari reminded me that for her, it was only a year bird, since she had it on a trip for Scott & Linda tot he Delmarva Peninsula that I didn't go on. What a big, beefy buteo the Swainson's Hawk is! We were to see more during the trip, but the first one is always the most impressive.

Just as we entered the refuge, on a foliage-free mud flat, we saw a Ring-necked Pheasant strolling across. In Utah, there is no question about countability as there is in NJ when you come across a pheasant.

Once on the 12-mile auto loop (50% longer than Brig's) we encountered thousands of shorebirds, waders, ducks, coots and grebes. The two new birds for the year there were both grebes: Western Grebe and it's close cousin, Clark's Grebe (of Lewis and Clark fame). They are very similar and were once lumped into one species, I think. The best way (and really, my only way) to separate them is by their faces:
Western Grebe (black covers the eye)
Clark's Grebe (white around the eye)
Photos: Shari Zirlin
Another great bird, that makes a big splash (literally) when it is found in NJ but it is a common species in the west, is American White Pelican. We saw huge numbers of them roosting on an island and numerous birds gliding over the water like B-52's.

Photos: Shari Zirlin
And note the number of White-faced Ibis--another bird that makes all the RBAs on the east coast.
In all, we had 45 species in and just outside the refuge.
45 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose  10
Gadwall  3
Mallard  15
Blue-winged/Cinnamon Teal  10     careful estimate, probably more
Redhead  1
Ruddy Duck  1
Ring-necked Pheasant  1
Pied-billed Grebe  40
Eared Grebe  10
Western Grebe  50
Clark's Grebe  10
Double-crested Cormorant  5
American White Pelican  500
Great Blue Heron  20
Great Egret  1
Snowy Egret  25
Black-crowned Night-Heron  3
White-faced Ibis  500
Turkey Vulture  2
American Coot  1000
Black-necked Stilt  500
American Avocet  400
Killdeer  3
Spotted Sandpiper  3
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Willet (Western)  3
Lesser Yellowlegs  3
Marbled Godwit  50
Western Sandpiper  1
Long-billed Dowitcher  100
Franklin's Gull  125
California Gull  50
Caspian Tern  10
Forster's Tern  15
American Kestrel  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Western Kingbird  1
Eastern Kingbird  5
Bank Swallow  125
Barn Swallow (American)  10
Cliff Swallow  5
Marsh Wren  3
Song Sparrow  2     heard
Yellow-headed Blackbird  100
House Sparrow  5

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