I’m writing this post early in the morning, it is still dark outside, spring is supposed to have sprung and there is at least an inch of snow on the ground that fell overnight. That was after it rained all day yesterday. We already have had 200% snow pack this year and it was a very wet March and April might just be trying surpass the amount of rain we got in March.
There is flooding in northern Utah and I feel for those who are affected. It might not get better for a while.
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge auto tour route is still closed and many of the birders, bird photographers and nature lovers are itching to know what birds are there because after all spring migration is an exciting time at the refuge.
Thousands of shorebirds stop and refuel at the refuge before heading further north to their breeding grounds like these Long-billed Dowitchers. Some are only there for a few days and we won’t see them again until fall.
Some of the wading birds stay the whole winter at the refuge including Black-crowned Night Herons and Great Blue Herons but we have Snowy Egrets, White-faced Ibis, Cattle Egrets, Great Egrets, American Bitterns that come after the ice melts from the marshes. Once in blue moon we also get rare vagrant wading birds in the spring too like Little Blue Herons or Tricolored Herons.
Our American White Pelicans arrived some time ago but I love seeing them in huge flocks feeding on the water at the refuge. I just know they are already doing that.
The Double-crested Cormorants arrived too and are probably feeding close to the pelicans where they will snatch fish from them given even a half a chance. And I am sure they are spreading their wings and warming up in the sun, when the sun shines that is. It has been pretty gray here.
The Clark’s and Western Grebes had returned my last trip to the refuge on one of the few days it was open in mid March. I know they are courting, rushing and dancing on the water but we just can’t get there to see and be amazed by their courtship rituals. I’ve seen Eared Grebes on the Great Salt Lake by the thousands already so they might be visible from the auto tour route too.
The first Wilson’s Phalaropes should be arriving soon too. Marbled Godwits and Willets will add to the enormous flocks of shorebirds we get in spring. And Least Sandpipers, Snowy Plovers… too many to list.
The Northern Harrier males have already begun to sky dance by performing their fantastic mating displays over the marshes where the harriers will build their nests. And the Short-eared Owl males will be sky dancing to attract the females.
The swans have most likely headed to the far north but the ducks and geese that live and breed on the refuge have already built their nests or are building them now. The Marsh Wrens, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, Soras and Virginia Rails are probably already calling in search of their mates.
I know I feel like I am missing all of the birds at the refuge and that I am not alone. It is almost as of the birds are the pulse of the refuge at this time of the year. We don’t know when we will be able to get back out to the auto tour loop but I know that doesn’t stop me from wondering what birds are there, how many of them there are and how they are doing.
This flooding may go on for quite some time yet, there is plenty of snow still in the mountains and spring run off won’t end for a while. I am sure the birds do not miss us but I know we sure miss them.
Life is good.