Sunday, June 11, 2017

On the Road West
with the Obligatory Stop At
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Terry and I left the Aerie on Wednesday morning heading west to the Pacific coast. We clocked over 700 miles a day and found ourselves in Brigham City, Utah Friday afternoon. Across the highway (I-84/I-15) from Brigham City is one of the premier birding sites in the lower 48: Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Every time we head west (or east depending on how we got to the coast in the first place) we stop here to do some birding.

This time we were in for a bit of a shock. All kinds of fancy races were planed for Saturday; walking, running, and bicycling were on the menu. Some of those races would be going down the 12-mile long paved road leading to the actual refuge auto tour loop. We didn't think any of the races would actually go along the gravel loop road but you never know! So we planned to get up and out as soon as possible and then stay on the auto loop for much of the day.

Turns out we beat the racers by a good bit. They didn't leave the city until after we had reached the auto loop and begun our first circuit. (That first took 4 hours by which time the racers had come in to the check point and gone on their way back toward the city.)

It was a beautiful day at the refuge with the water barely being riffled by a light breeze. (In contrast, the evening before had produced 40+ mph gusts and some severe blowing dust.) The birds were pretty cooperative too. Many of the waterfowl species had their youngsters on display. There were Avocets and Killdeer chicks on the road that tested ones patience. There were ducklings of a number of varieties swimming along with their mothers, Baby Western Grebes hitched rides on their parents' backs. Tiny little baby Coots got gobbled up by mean old Herring Gulls. (Yeah, Mother Nature can be harsh at times.)

And we played hide-and-seek with a Black-tailed Weasel along the side of the road. It would hop forward about four lengths of its body then dive into the grass. I would creep slowly forward and it would pop out of the grass and hop four lengths of its body then dive into the grass, over and over again. We played this game for about 50 yards before the weasel did not reappear and we drove on.

Here's some pictures I captured of our morning.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-headed Blackbird


White Pelicans fishing
White Pelicans posing
White-faced Ibis. It would not stop preening itself! This shot seems to capture it saying, "See the white face!"

Brown-headed Cowbirds


Great Blue Heron

American Avocet

Snowy Egret

Double-crested Cormorant drying out.

Double-crested Cormorant questioning my presence

Double-crested Cormorant in silhouette

Cinnamon Teal small, but colorful!

Black-necked Stilt
We left Brigham City Sunday morning and drove west through Ontario, Oregon and on to Bend, OR before stopping. Tomorrow we continue to the coast and the town of Lincoln City.

1 comment:

threecollie said...

That's two oddly light Gadwalls I have seen photos of in as many days! Lovely birds; thanks for sharing your visit!