Monday, June 15, 2015

Utah: The Far South

Dee and I drove down from Cedar City to Sand Hollow State Park, which is southwest of Zion NP. The park is in a beautiful location but when we visited, it was crowded with holidaymakers.

So we moved on to Quail Creek State Park, a few miles away. 

The reservoir here was at 90% capacity and had flooded a significant portion of the park. 

It was odd to watch a Yellow Warbler foraging in the top of a tree standing in several feet of water.

There were very few birds on the lake. All we saw were a couple of Double-crested Cormorants and a few Eared Grebes.

A final walk along the beach turned up a Black-throated Sparrow. 

I also spotted a Say's Phoebe and an Ash-throated Flycatcher (below).

The following day I made the long drive over to the Lytle Ranch, a noted birding Utah site. On the way I passed through some incredible landscapes, including the cliffs below, which provide a backdrop to a Paiute reservation. 

Further along, the landscape was even more beautiful.

It isn't every day that you see a veritable forest of Joshua trees.

Arriving at the ranch, I was a little worried by this sign.

I needn't have worried. The dogs were very friendly and one or other of them accompanied me throughout my visit, disappearing only when they had to chase a jackrabbit.

A Zone-tailed Hawk was a great sighting but it flew off before I could photograph it. So I compensated by taking pictures of an Ash-throated Flycatcher.

A Costas's Hummingbird was a nice change from all the Black-chinned Hummers I saw in Utah.

However, the best birds at the ranch were Phainopeplas, one of my favorite species. I had seen them before in Arizona and California but this was my first sighting of them in Utah.

This one had caught a tasty-looking dragonfly.

Unfortunately, I had only about an hour at the ranch before I had to set off back for Cedar City. If and when I am next in Utah, I'll try to make time for a much longer visit to this site. In the meantime I'll have to make do with the memory of a pleasant hour spent with Phainopeplas.


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