Dock on the pond at the ATK Ranch, Promontory, Utah
I bounced out of bed early Saturday morning to meet the Audubon group and go birding in Box Elder County (the next county over). Okay, maybe I didn't bounce exactly, considering that I was up until 1:30 the night before, but at least I managed to drag myself out through sheer anticipation LOL There are several places in Box Elder County that I have always wanted to go, but have never had a vehicle able to get there. Since we were carpooling, this was my BIG CHANCE. Unfortunately, we didn't end up going anywhere my car couldn't have gone, but we saw some great things anyway!
One of our first stops was an empty grain silo with nesting Barn Owls. We were given STRICT instructions to make as little noise as possible, and only stick our heads in the silo one at a time. I was patiently waiting my turn when the owls decided they had had enough. Out they came, right out the bottom of the silo we were sticking our heads in! It was SO AMAZING!!! Juvenile owls were flopping around at our very feet, running into people's legs as we all ducked to get out of their way! They are incredibly beautiful, and I really wish I had brought my camera over to the silo with me. After the owls (at least 4 or more) flew off to quieter perches, we all felt so guilty for disturbing them. I hope they all made it back home safely!
Our next stop was Golden Spike National Historic Site, where the transcontinental railroad met. A couple of birders in the group had found a Burrowing Owl nest site around there a few days previously. I have never seen a Burrowing Owl, so I was really excited about this stop! As we approached the nest site, there he was, sitting calmly on the fence, right next to the road. Unlike the Barn Owls, he was completely unconcerned about us staring at him. Barn Owls are beautiful, but Burrowing Owls are just plain CUTE.
Burrowing OwlWe continued on down Promontory, where we were blessed with a rare glimpse of a Common Nighthawk perched obligingly on a leafless branch in broad daylight. I've never actually seen one perched before, much less in good light where you can see all his lovely camouflaging. Usually I see them as shadows with white wing bars zooming around parking lot lights.
My other great bird for the day was a lifer Say's Phoebe. This bird was hanging out on a farm with the cows LOL
While we didn't see a LOT of birds on this trip, and none of them will count towards my "200 bird" list, as they were not in Cache Valley, really the best part of the trip was getting to know the other birders. I really enjoy riding with Dick and Dorothy, and had wonderful discussions with them about not only birds, but wildflowers, which Dorothy know a lot about! And Dick had some really great field guides, like Butterflies of the West and Dragonflies of the Southwest. They are great people, and I look forward to birding and wildflower watching with them again! They even took the group a little out of our way, just to show me a Blazing Star wildflower. Unfortunately, it wasn't in bloom at the moment, having spent flowers and unopened buds on the stem. But I should be able to locate it again another time. I love how my hobbies have allowed me to meet many wonderful people!