Tuesday, June 24, 2014

USA 2014 - Salt Lake City


Wednesday morning we started out North headed for the Great Salt Lake Preserve, which we reached after some fun and games with our rental car, later than we'd hoped for.

There is a lake but at this time of year from the visitor accessible part all you can see is an extensive reed bed, the natural home of the Red-winged Blackbird:


Note how in this hunting-free area someone has put a bullet through the sign, showing their disdain for all things wildlife and conservation oriented.

Anyway we did enjoy the preserve, seeing the US variant of the Barn Swallow, to my eye they have a much redder underside than the European ones from home:


From the reeds a Marsh Wren flew-up to proclaim it's territory:


A surprise to us, a Short-eared Owl hunted over the beds:


We're used to seeing them hunting and fighting before dusk but not during the day.  A common bird amongst the reeds and indeed it proved throughout our holiday, was the Song Sparrow:



From the Great Salt Lake Preserve, we drove to another spot, the Beaver River Migratory Bird Refuge, which has a visitor centre, friendly and helpful staff and a circular loop driving trail, with various pull-outs and stopping points (at one point we had someone right behind us who it turned out hadn't intended to visit the Refuge, which must have therefore been a frustrating drive, though we did have to hurry along to clear the track for them.  We also met a retired US Air Force pilot who had served in the UK and whose name is the same as a character from a popular UK comic, which was fun!

On the way to the loop we passed fields with Horned Larks and Long-billed Curlews:





As we drove around the refuge, the clouds were building:


A Snowy Egret was waiting patiently in one of the water inlets to the refuge:


A Clark's Grebe was one of the less common grebes on the refuge, Western has the black-cap extending below the eye, which is the simplest way to differentiate them in the field:


A fine bird, the American Avocet caught something while swooshing its up-curved bill from side to side:


Another wader, this is a Long-billed Dowitcher:


We'd seen White-faced Ibis flying overhead at the Great Salt Lake Preserve like this:


On the driving trail we got close enough for a decent snap too:


The weather continued to close in from beyond the mountain range:


You can see here rain had started to obscure the farthest horizon:


We also had a relatively long trip ahead, back south of Salt Lake City and on to our next stop in a town called Midway, which our sat nav couldn't locate (we had lots of fun with the sat nav too, paying through the nose for something very outdated).  Eventually we had to use a UK phone to contact the hotel for directions once we got within about 30 miles of it, which they were able to provide.  

Our hotel proved to be a 'Swiss style' resort in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains and while mostly family oriented, was an interesting place to stay.

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