Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun

A marshy pond outside the Bear River Bird Refuge visitor's center.
Salt Creek Refuge looking southeast. This is at curve in the road that takes you out to Promontory Point and Golden Spike Monument. Click on the picture for a larger view and you will see hundreds of Canada geese which we startled into flight with our loud talking.
A partial view of Salt Creek refuge from the parking lot looking northeasterly. Farming towns of Thatcher and something else in the distance.
More Salt Creek looking east at the mountains that are east and somewhat north of Brigham City. Sorry this is blurry; might be the one with a snowy egret in the distance (click to enlarge)
According to a song by Noel Coward, at least (Mad Dogs, etc., see title of this post). However, add me to that list. I, too, was out in the midday sun today attempting to catch up on yardwork delayed by much playing this weekend. And although the temps were in the mid 80's and I've certainly mown the lawn in that heat before, I usually save it for the evening when the sun is less direct and some of my lawn is shaded. 'Bout did myself in this time. But I did manage to complete it as well as prune the wisteria, cut back a little more of the pfitzers, cut down something that I think might be poison oak, and did some weeding. Oh yes, tried to poison gophers. They have made two hills under the wisteria and one in my lovely flowers. The neighbors who refuse to combat them have hills all around their yard. And my rock wall is riddled with their tunnels. But I am getting serious with that area. I have decided to fill the burrows with cement. It will permanently fill the burrows and it will help strengthen the wall as well. Well, I've spent the last two hours recovering from the heat and I think I am finally feeling nearly normal.

Yesterday a good friend and I took an outing to Bear River Bird Refuge. We had planned to meet up and have lunch in Brigham City, but we encountered Peach Days and what with closed roads and crowds of people, had to change our plans somewhat. Then upon driving to the refuge, we encountered a gate forbidding entry by vehicles or pedestrians. At the visitor's center they explained to us that the drivable dikes are being paved and should be finished around the end of this month. They referred us to Salt Creek refuge northwest of Corinne. We decided to try it and it turned out to be a lovely place to visit. We had the entire place to ourselves. We saw great blue herons, snowy egrets, white-faced ibis (I challenge you to find the white face on this seemingly all black bird), pelicans, double-crested cormorants, something we thought were Phalaropes, but now I think were Western Grebes, hundreds of Canada geese, a variety of ducks, swallows, and hawks which we didn't identify.

A strange sight we encountered was decomposed and half eaten carcasses of sheep. The workers at the refuge told us the sheep did not die there, but died elsewhere and were brought in to attact the coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and other predators that normally feast on eggs and young birds in the nests along the shoreline.

The workers also told us many of the Canada geese had been captured from parks and golf courses in Salt Lake City where they are considered a nuisance, and relocated here. We decided they took the prize yesterday both in population size and in noise.

I think I have fallen in love with this remote and beautiful location. I will visit it again alone sometime in an early morning, with a good supply of coffee and a folding chair, I'll set up a site where I can sit quietly and wait for the birds to come in close. (I so need a good camera.) I could not get good pictures of any birds yesterday, but some nice landscape. With my new field guide and handy quick reference guide, and notebook for jotting notes, I'll spend some serious time observing and logging my sightings. The migration is just starting and the next couple of months will provide some excellent viewing. I wish I had a little canoe for rowing amongst the marshes.

So now, the weekend is all but over. I think I may do another hour of weeding in a shady part of the yard. And then I'll do a little grocery shopping and call it a day.

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