In the end we were so busy with friends and family (and nature watching) last week that I wasn't able to blog. However, now that we're back in Cypress, I can start catching up.
Our first wildlife watching trip in Utah was to Antelope Island, north of Salt Lake City.
Although the sign at the fee booth was rather worrying, we weren't actually bothered by bugs at all.
The water on each side of the causeway is normally excellent for shorebirds and water birds. Not this time, though. Apart from Franklin's and California Gulls, we saw only American Avocets and some Eared Grebes (below).
The beautiful views from the island made up for the lack of birds.
The first animals we spotted were three antelopes, way off in the distance.
Further along, a few bison were grazing.
One of them was right by the road.
Our bird count rose slowly: Sage Thrasher, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Northern Harrier, Long-billed Curlew, Common Ravens, Horned Larks and Western Meadowlarks (below).
While Franklin's Gulls were too distant to photograph, California Gulls were not.
I had great hopes for the Fielding Garr ranch, a good birding spot. Unfortunately, on this particular day it was hosting a Cowboy Poetry event and was packed with people. So birds were few and far between.
A few Barn Swallows seemed undisturbed by the festivities.
While a Western Kingbird flew off before I could get near it, two American Kestrel chicks eyed me nervously from their nesting box.
All in all, it certainly wasn't a good day to look for birds on the island. However, we still enjoyed our visit and we would have plenty more opportunities for birding during the rest of our vacation.