Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A weekend of birding and a fruitless search

Sometimes we just take the wrong path.  Saturday, I headed north for some birding.  It was a cold but pretty day for it.  When I reached Brigham City, I had to choose: either continue on to Corinne and Salt Creek, or head to Cache Valley in search of that Snowy Owl and blue jay, both very rare in Utah.  Snowy Owls have not been seen in Utah since some time in the 60s.  But last year's irruption brought a couple of sightings.  Then there was a reported sighting about three weeks ago in Cache Valley.  It was a long shot.  I decided to go for the sure thing, and I chose Salt Creek.  It was great up there with lots of birds.  I got my first photo of a Golden Eagle and some Horned Larks as well. I had the place to myself and it felt so wonderful.

Imagine my disappointment when I got home, however, and found that not only was there a confirmed sighting and photo of the Snowy Owl in Cache Valley, they had posted the location online.  If "d been monitoring on my phone, I could have headed up that way and found it.  In fact, if i had chosen the other path, I might have been the one who spotted it at about 2:30. 

This was a big deal and the birder community was excited.  Next day, I didn't return because snow was predicted and I don't drive Sardine Canyon in a snowstorm ever.  It's treacherous.  But some 20 cars of people showed up in Amalga Barrens and scouted all over the western county to no avail.  On Monday I headed up that way.  I wanted to also try to find the eastern Blue Jay in Smithfield.  A number of people had seen that one within about a four by four block range.  Mostly cemetery and public park.

I spent the entire day searching.  First in Smithfield where I didn't find the jay and then in Amalga Flats looking for the owl.  I was patient but not very methodical.  There were not many birds out in that farming county.  I saw a wonderful prairie falcon and hundreds of horned larks, and a few ravens.  Lots of wide expanses of fields covered in deep snow probably make it tough for the birds to find food.  The fog had been harsh that day and the temperatures near zero, and everything was covered in a thick heavy hoar frost that hadn't burned off by the time I left around 3 p.m.  I searched all around Amalga and Trenton.  And finally, after one last pass where it was last seen, I headed back to Smithfield armed with new information for finding the blue jay.  It was so cold and I was tired, but I still tried hard to find it, with no luck.  At 4, I gave up and started the 90-minute drive home.

Upon arriving home, I saw all kinds of Facebook and email notifications that the owl was spotted about 4:30 less than two miles from where I gave up my search.  Many people responded quickly and got a chance to see the owl.   How disappointing, I was so close and missed it.  I will wait another week or so now as we have a string of snowstorms ahead.  I think I may plan to stay overnight in Logan, too, so I won't be in a hurry to get back through the canyon before dark.  The owl seems to make his appearance around 4 or so.  I am not giving up.  I'll try again when the weather is favorable.

Here are a few birds from Salt Creek:  A great blue heron, a horned lark, and golden eagle.  Also saw bald eagles, many ducks and ravens, a handful of rough-legged hawks and pheasants.  There were hundreds of the horned larks everywhere. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: House of Cards

I have a new review at the Reel Women blog.  Click this link to read what I think of this new original Netflix series.  Hint: I gave it five stars.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dense Fog Returns

Sort of like that old chant from high school:  Second verse, same as the first, but a little bit louder, and a little bit worse.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Groundhog Day

Today, Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow, which is supposed to mean an early spring.  Of course, the funny thing about that little tradition is that if he does see  his shadow, we will get six more weeks of winter--that's supposed to be a worse case.  Now count the weeks from now until the official first day of spring: seven weeks.  So early spring or six more weeks, both seem to be earlier than the official first day of spring.  But let's not quibble.  Groundhog Day always reminds me of one of my all-time favorite movies.  

I could watch this movie over and over and . . . but since it's not available by streaming on Netflix, I'll settle for this nice summary. I especially liked the analysis at the end about the difficulty we have of living in the moment. So true.
I've had my own minor existential crisis this past month.  And I hate that I've had to waste a precious month of life on that.  But I guess sometimes you just have to get through things until they are over.

February has brought warmer temps, melting snow, and sunny days.  Although the haze and inversion are already setting in again, but this time they are not expected to last more than a few days.  A little breeze around Wednesday will clear out the air again.

With these changes, my mood has improved greatly and I finally feel like a functioning human being.  I'm still off balance about my identity as a non-working person, but at least I can make myself get off the couch now. I will take it a day at a time and hope to continue on a positive track.