Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Oasis, Pequop, Wells 7/29--Black-chinned Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Say's Phoebe, Gray Flycatcher, BREWER'S SPARROW

Bonneville Salt Flats
Wednesday we left Salt Lake City and drove across the Bonneville Salt Flats into Nevada. If you really want to get to know the Middle of Nowhere, go there. Of course, as human beings, we must make our mark, and the salt flats are a as tempting as a blank wall to graffiti artist. It was hard to go more than a quarter of a mile without seeing tire tracks veer off I-80 into the flats, then come back onto the road after a mile or so. Everyone thinks he's Craig Breedlove. 
Tire tracks in the salt flats. 
 After a stop in West Wendover, Utah/Nevada line, to buy food for lunch, we motored to the bustling town of Oasis.
Trailers were scattered about, most of them looking long unoccupied, but one house had hummingbird feeders. We approached cautiously, thinking "survivalist with shotgun" but the occupants turned out to friendly and let us look at their feeders which had both Black-chinned Hummingbirds and Rufous Hummingbirds. We also saw our only Say's Phoebe of the trip. 

A few miles on we turned off at a place called Pequop--not a town, just a spot on the map, and there we had our first Gray Flycatcher in the dusty hills. Not much else was of interest there, so we moved on to have lunch in the town park of Wells, which at least was occupied and had an historic section consisting of one rotting building which served as the hotel/bar 150 years ago. At the Wells Waste Water Treatment Ponds we found a variety of ducks and shorebirds. The standout bird was BREWER'S SPARROW, a rather non-descript sparrow that looks like something between a Chipping and Field Sparrow. The list from the ponds is fairly interesting, especially since we were seeing ducks we haven't seen in months, like Canvasback & scaup. 
15 species
Gadwall  2
Mallard  25
Canvasback  1
Lesser Scaup  1
Ruddy Duck  3
Eared Grebe  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Western)  1
Black-necked Stilt  1     heard
American Avocet  1
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Willet  1
Wilson's Phalarope  15
Common Raven  2
Yellow-headed Blackbird  1

We found this Common Poorwill corpse in the middle of the road somewhere between Wells & Elko. Poorwills, like other nightjars, will sit on the road at night and this one apparently wasn't fast enough to get out of the way of a vehicle. ABA rules stipulate that a bird must be free and alive in order to be countable. A couple of night later a few of us drove some roads outside Elko hoping to at least hear poorwills but "all" we found were a couple of Burrowing Owls eating insects on the road. 

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