Thursday, May 21, 2009

Salt Lake City Birding: Day 3

Day 1 - Big Cottonwood Canyon

Early on Friday morning I drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon to Brighton. Although the snow had disappeared from the lower sections, there was plenty from about 8,000 feet up. My target birds were Dark-eyed Junco, Cassin's Finch, Steller's Jay and woodpeckers..

I never saw a person during my 90 minutes at Brighton.


But as soon as I arrived, I was welcomed by American Robins ...
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and a Dark-eyed Junco, wonderfully camouflaged against the fallen branches.


At first I thought that the snow was going to make it impossible for me to walk the Silver Lake trail. However, it turned out to be frozen solid and so I was able to spend the next hour slipping and sliding around the edge of the lake.

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There were three Mallards in one of the few patches of open water and the ground had several Fox Sparrows, difficult to photograph against the snow.
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The surrounding woods were busy with American Robins, Mountain Chickadees, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Dark-eyed Juncos and Red-breasted Nuthatches.

Many of the Nuthatches were foraging in the snow.



One was busy excavating a nesting hole.


But not too busy to check me out, its breast covered in sawdust.


Although I often heard the rapping of woodpeckers from the surrounding trees, I never managed to see any.



Back in the parking lot, White-crowned Sparrows were singing away while Violet-green Swallows swooped overhead. Much more exciting to me, though, was a group of Pine Siskins, who seemed very unconcerned by my presence.



On my way down the canyon, I stopped at the Silver Fork Diner. Here I was able to have breakfast on the deck where several feeders drew in Mountain Chickadees and Black-chinned Hummingbirds.

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I was excited when some female Finches appeared. Cassin's? I thought so but I wouldn't be really sure until I saw a male.
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Right on cue, a male flew up. Definitely Cassin's Finch!
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On the way down the canyon, I saw another of my target birds when I passed a pair of Steller's Jays on a tree top. Perhaps I would be able to return the following day and get a photo of the Steller's - and maybe finally get to see some woodpeckers.


Later That Day

In the late afternoon, we spent an hour in City Creek Canyon.




Like all the creeks we saw in Utah, the one here was rushing along, fueled by melting snow.


I scoured the banks, hoping for an American Dipper but all I saw were Yellow and Wilson's Warblers, American Robins and a pair of Black-headed Grosbeaks.

Male Black-headed Grosbeak
Female Black-headed Grosbeak

We spent the evening with our family - and with a family of Mallards.

7 comments:

Stephanie said...

Your pics are beautiful, looks like you had fun!

Jeff said...

The photos don't do the landscape justice. The canyons are stunningly beautiful.

mckay olson said...

actully, (I don't want to be rude) but the bird that you thought was a female cassin's finch, is a pine sisken.

Jeff said...

Hi, McKay.
You're right. It is a Pine Siskin. Good spotting! I never see Siskins or Cassin's here, so obviously my ID skills are not the best.

mckay olson said...

hey thanks, I really don't want to be rude. those are good pictures! were did you go in salt lake city?

mckay olson said...

hey, I did not notice until now, that you saw a green morph pine siskin! I have never seen one, they are not common.

Jeff said...

Hi, McKay.
The only place we really birded in the city was Red Butte Gardens. Next time I want to do some birding in City Creek Canyon, the city cemetery and Parley's Gulch/Tanner Park. I've seen some good birds at all these places before.
I didn't know green morph Pine Siskins were uncommon. Thanks for the info.