26 October 2008


Today I had an amazing day of birding around Cache County with Craig Fosdick and Stephanie Cobbold. Craig and I started at Tony Grove where we leisurely worked our way through the campground and around Tony Grove Lake. The highlight here was certainly the Northern Pygmy-Owl (photo above) that we heard calling and then were able to locate as it flew around looking for a small bird to join it for lunch. I heard my first Northern Pygmy-Owl earlier this year in Cache County, and this is only the second time I've seen one. It was neat to see Cache County's largest and smallest raptors at almost the same time: a juvenile Golden Eagle was circling high overhead as we heard the owl. Other birds here were pretty much as expected, but crossbills were suprisingly absent. We were hoping for a White-winged Crossbill, which had been reported here a couple of times but which I had still not seen.

We met up with Stephanie and headed up Swan Flat Road from Logan Canyon towards Idaho. Along the road (still in Cache County) we stopped for a large flock of crossbills that we could hear and see in the treetops. After scanning for several minutes, I was able to locate my lifer White-winged Crossbill in the flock of about 40 crossbills; as far as I could tell all the rest were Red Crossbills. The White-winged Crossbill (photo at right) was a very exciting bird for me because I have spent a lot of time looking for this species in the county this year and had not been able to find it so far. In addition, this was my 235th species of the year in Cache County, tying the record held by Keith Archibald and Ron Ryel for a Cache County year.

After a quick drive to Swan Lake just across the border in Idaho, we went back down the valley to Sue's Ponds in search of gulls. Only one gull, a Ring-billed Gull, was there when we arrived (later joined by a few more), compared to hundreds of gulls just a day earlier. After a few minutes of watching a large group of Long-billed Dowitchers feeding at close range, I scanned the back side of the pond again and spotted something we had all missed the first time through: an American Golden-Plover (photo below) foraging on the mud with the Killdeer. With this bird, a lifer and a rare find in Utah, let alone Cache County, I set the record for the most number of birds seen in Cache County in one year at 236. Wohoo! But don't worry, the blogging's not done yet. Of course, I'm going to keep birding until the end of the year, and I'm going to see as many new birds as I can. Stay tuned. . . .


John W said...

Congrats from DownUnder and now you can relax a bit and look at frogs... how many spp have been found in Cache valley in a year?
Well done!

Mama bee said...

Kickass! Congrats on your new record.