Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Salt Lake City Birding: Days 1 & 2


Day 1 - Midvale
Our first afternoon was spent at my brother-in-law’s house in Midvale. There were plenty of common birds: Mourning Doves, Rock Doves, House Sparrows and European Starlings. House Finches, Chipping Sparrows and American Robins were plentiful, too, and there were occasional flyovers by California Gulls. I was pleased by the arrival of a California Quail and a Black-capped Chickadee, and then I was thrilled to see a Pine Siskin, a bird I’ve only ever seen once before.

Day 2 - Butterfield Canyon
The next morning started well when I drove into Butterfield Canyon and immediately spotted a Great Horned Owl. Unfortunately, the only other birds that appeared during my drive were a Black-billed Magpie (ubiquitous around Salt Lake), a Northern Harrier, a Turkey Vulture and a pair of Western Bluebirds.

Great Horned Owl

Black-billed Magpie

Day 2 - Red Butte Botanical Gardens
Later in the morning, Dee and I went to the Red Butte Botanical Gardens, on the campus of the University of Utah.
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Salt Lake City from Red Butte
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It was the first visit there for both of us and we were really surprised by how beautiful the gardens were. One unusual feature is that they transition seamlessly into the hillside and canyon behind them.
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Whoever designed the gardens also took great care to integrate the artificial elements into the natural landscape.
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We were pleasantly surprised by the number of birds that we saw, starting with this Western Scrub Jay, followed by a Black-chinned Hummingbird.

Western Scrub-Jay

Black-billed Magpies posed for photos when they weren’t chasing off a small hawk.


We spent several minutes watching a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers popping in and out of their nest but I didn't manage to get a clear photo. The best I could get was a blurry shot of an adult approaching the nest ...
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followed by a shot of a tail.
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The next bird I saw was also impossible to photograph; this was a pity because it was a life bird for me, a Plumbeous Vireo. After this, there was another life bitd, a Black-headed Grosbeak. Luckily, this bird let me take its picture.
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Black-headed Grosbeak
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Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Mountain Bluebirds and Black-chinned Hummingbirds were common but they were harder to photograph than Yellow Warblers and Western Tanagers.

Yellow Warbler
Western Tanager
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The creek had several Song Sparrows, including one that decided to take a bath.


Our final sighting was of a Lazuli Bunting.

5 comments:

Birdwoman said...

Beautiful! Love that Black-headed Grosbeak. I've never met one in life.

Jeff said...

It was a lifer for me, too. During the trip I saw 6 new birds in total.

Pam said...

What a beautiful place to visit. You have such colourful birds over there too! Silly question but the Magpie looks pretty much identical to the ones we get here in the UK is it just the beaks that are different?

Jeff said...

Hi, Pam.
Our Black-billed Magpie is virtually identical to your European Magpie. In fact, some people think they should be regarded as one species. At present, though, they're classed as two separate species. I love them, they're so big, bold and brassy!

Pam said...

They certainly look it and are obviously just the same personality's as the ones here too :-)