Monday, March 16, 2015

Birds at Salt Creek and Bear River. What's Our Hurry?

 Sunday, Frankie and I hit the road in search of migrating birds.  Things are all running early this year and I was afraid I had missed the Snow Geese and Tundra Swans.  It turns out I did miss the greater part of that migration, but did find other birds.

We packed a lunch and water and headed up the freeway.

A couple of months ago, UDOT raised the speed limits for all interstate freeways along the Wasatch Front to 70 MPH -- even through the middle of Salt Lake City where lanes increase up to 6 and 7 lanes in each direction.  It's crazy.  At my age, I'm not interested in speed, but I try to go with the flow.  But it feels like we're all hurtling toward sudden death.  North of Ogden, the speed changes to 75 MPH and narrows to two lanes each way.  Traffic is heavy and has a high number of semis in the mix making that part of the drive tricky.  Either you stay in the slow lane behind a truck and drive around 60, or pass and try to keep up with those doing 90 in the fast lane.  I tried keeping to the slow lane and passing at no more than 78 MPH and then getting over again so faster drivers could pass me.  I didn't want to hit 80 as I have one of those Allstate Drivewise devices on my car that tracks my driving performance for purposes of a discount.  It tracks how often I exceed 80 MPH (among other things) and that is a negative.  So I didn't enjoy that part of the drive at all.  But I did get there fast -- one hour from my house to the Salt Creek parking lot.

I guess no-one likes driving freeways.  They are bland and all the same.  Not like driving the old country roads and back ways.  So people drive faster just wanting to get to their destinations as soon as possible and not enjoying the drive.  When UDOT raised the speed limits, their justification was that people were already driving those speeds anyway, so it simply made sense.  Frankly, that does NOT make sense to me.  If people are breaking the law, write more tickets.  With that kind of logic, we should do away with speed limits altogether.

I may just opt for back roads through that 75 MPH section in the future and drive through the little towns of Perry, Willard, and Brigham -- "Fruit Way" as it's called, for all the orchards, farms and fruit stands along the road.  And I always opt for Legacy Parkway in Davis County, as it is a limited access highway with no cross streets; but the speed limit is 55, it has quiet asphalt instead of concrete, has no sound walls, and no semis allowed, making for a relaxing pleasant drive. And after all, it's not just about the destination.  We need to enjoy the journey.  I'm not in a hurry like everyone else. I might just slow down and enjoy the drive sometimes.

At Salt Creek, I found only a couple of swans, too far out for photos.  I was delighted to find a large number of Sandhill Cranes all around.  I could see some and heard more calling from hidden spots.  Some were flying overhead.  It made the trip so worthwhile, even though I didn't get any good photos.  I was surprised there were other visitors at the refuge, too.  Several cars came and went.  I normally have the place to myself but more birders are discovering this sweet little spot.
We found our way to Bear River refuge next where things are sort of between migrations.  The swans and geese have mostly moved on.  But I was delighted to see the first pelican of the year, two Clark's greebes, and a bunch of Avocets, all portending things to come.

My photos leave something to be desired as the midges are out and it's very hard to stay outside the car or even roll down windows without being mobbed by the pests.  But here's the best of what I captured.

Great Blue Heron
 Ducks in flight
 Cinnamon Teal ducks
 A lonely Clark's Grebe
 A bunch of Avocets
First pelican of the year
 Much of the refuge is open water awaiting the next wave of migrants.

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