22 September 2008

More Migration

Today I birded Hyrum Reservoir in search of Sabine's Gulls. A Sabine's Gull would be a lifer for me, and one that I'm really looking forward to. I did find lots of gulls, including one early juvenile Herring Gull and hundreds, maybe thousands, of Franklin's Gulls, but no Sabine's. However, I did find what appears to be the best shorebird habitat around the county at the moment, at the east end of the reservoir where the Little Bear River flows in and forms mudflats. There, I found several species of shorebirds, including two Pectoral Sandpipers, which I haven't seen since I took Ornithology in New Hampshire in 1999, and three Black-bellied Plovers, a lifer for me. (Two of the Black-bellied Plovers are shown above.) I hesitated as I thought about whether to even continue today, since it's been so long since I had found two new year birds in one day, and I wanted to end on a good note. But I got greedy, and decided to head up to Sherwood Hills Resort, a place Kris Purdy had recommended for Cassin's Vireos in fall migration.

At Sherwood Hills, I started to regret my greed. In the first fifteen minutes, I had not seen or heard a single bird there. Just as I was about to turn back to the car to give up and head home, I heard some Black-capped Chickadees in the distance. Knowing that other species might be associating with the chickadees, I chased them down and found an active mixed flock which included at least two Cassin's Vireos, my target bird! (One of these Cassin's Vireos is shown below.) That made a total of three new year birds for the day, my best day of birding in months!

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