October 20, 2010

Who me-tah? No... U-TAH!

So I'm not going to take credit or responsibility for the title of this post. All Noah's idea. Anyway, got back last night from a wonderful extended weekend in the Beehive StateOn our first day we did a little sightseeing up at Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake (which, incidentally, also happens to be the name of a killer song by Band of Horses)On Saturday we visited the very impressive LDS Temple in
downtown Salt Lake City
Monday was a surprising success for birding! Noah and I headed up Route 150 east of Kamas, UT with a dancer named Peter Bergonzi to do a little hiking and enjoy the scenery of the High Uintas. At our first stop Noah spotted one of my most sought after mammals: a Pika! And it was every bit as adorable as I had hoped. At the Mirror Lake campground I had a pair of AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKERS (Life Bird) drumming away near the shore. Had several frustratingly close looks but all brief and generally obscured by braches or in bad lighting. Still, it was great to finally see this species. Other birds of note in the area were Gray Jays and Mountain Chickadees. On our way back we stopped at the overlook on Mount Baldy Pass. Elevation here is roughly 10,700 feet. A fairly large flock of calling PINE GROSBEAKS was a nice surprise. I mentioned this to Noah and he asked if all the birds were Pine Grosbeaks. I took a second look at the tree that moments before HAD been full of Pine Grosbeaks and instead was now full of BLACK and GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES (Life Bird)! A flock of roughly ten plus birds that briefly perched in an evergreen then flew down to the rocks along the ledge where we were standing. The majority were Black and this may very well be my favorite bird of 2010. Stunningly handsom. They were very cooperative and gave great looks at pretty close range. I even got some lousy pics through my bins...
The view from Mount Baldy PassThe aptly named Mirror LakeMore of the beautiful Utah scenery...Thanks SO MUCH to our hosts Lori and Gary and all the terrific folks who helped put on the weekend. I'm home for a couple days now catching up on stuff then it's off to Ohio for a cousin's wedding then off to Blackpot!