Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Heading for the Hills

One of the few things that Dee and I don't like about living in Houston is that the surrounding area is so unbelievably flat. So we really look forward to every opportunity that we get to spend time in mountainous areas. This is partly because we just love mountains but also because
they are home to lots of birds and other wildlife that we never see in southeast Texas.

I mention this because tomorrow we're heading to Utah for a week-long vacation, most of which will be spent camping (with other family members) in the Uinta Mountains southeast of Salt Lake City. We'll be staying at a primitive campsite at 10,2
00 feet. (Yes, that's 10,200 feet.) As we'll be arriving at the campsite just hours after leaving Houston, we're a little worried that we might suffer from altitude sickness.

We're also a little worried about the weather. Daytime temperatures should be very pleasantly cool at around 70F. However, at nights it may drop to the 30s. That's going to be a shock after Houston, where our current n
ighttime lows rarely dip below 75F. I guess that we'll adjust.

The research that I've done on wildlife in the area suggests that we might get to see black bear and moose, as well as some interesting birds, such as Cassin's Finch, Pine Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, Townsend's Solitaire, Clark's Nutcracker, Three-toed Woodpecker and possibly even White-tailed Ptarmigan.

Cassin's Finch, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, May 2009

At worst, we should see some of the common Utah birds that we don't see around Houston: Mountain Bluebird, Steller's Jay, Pine Siskin, Red-naped Sapsucker, Common Raven etc.

Pine Siskin, Brighton, Utah, May 2009

While in Utah, I'm hoping we'll have time to drive out to Antelope Island again. I saw my first-ever Yellow-headed Blackbird there last year and I'd like to see a few more, plus some of the Burrowing Owls that live on the island.

Yellow-headed Blackbird, Antelope Island, May 2009

The causeway that connects the island to the mainland can provide excellent birding, too. If we're lucky, we should see an array of shorebirds, grebes and phalaropes.

As we won't have Internet access while we're away, I won't be posting again until Wednesday, August 4th. See you then!

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