Looking at the calendar, I’ve noted that it’s time to prepare for the upcoming 2013 Great Salt Lake Bird Festival (GSLBF) happening May 16-20. Since 2009, I have co-led a GSLBF birding field trip in downtown Salt Lake City with the expert assistance of bird watching enthusiast Terri Clemons. The excursion is called the City Center Bird Walk.
I knew my job with DWR would provide me some cool opportunities, but never could I have guessed I’d end up on top of one of the tallest buildings in Salt Lake, holding a box with a peregrine falcon inside.
I was so nervous, I froze. All I could do was watch them walk by. All of a sudden they ran and I knew I had missed my chance. Of course, my daddy and husband made fun of me for choking under pressure. I hunted for seven days during that trip and never saw another deer.
Because these ducks are cavity nesters, nesting habitat was mostly unavailable at the pond. Cavities are most commonly found in stumps and dead trees, which are almost always removed from city parks. It was obvious that lack of nesting habitat limited population growth for wood ducks.
My favorite part of the festival was the trip that went to the extreme southwest corner of the state to a place called Lytle Ranch. I was with a group of bird photographers and we were richly rewarded for our efforts.
One spring afternoon, I was tired of the usual targets, and I made an amazing shot on a beautiful robin in our cherry tree. After my momentary elation, what I had just done dawned on me. I killed momma robin. I sat and stared at the nest a foot or two from where she was perched.
Now, despite weeks of watering, you’re starting to find needles on the floor. It’s probably time to put the tree out on the curb for the city to haul to the landfill — or maybe grind into mulch for flower gardens at the local park. But wait, before you get rid of that tree, doesn’t it still have some value?
One of last year’s 15 poaching cases involved more than 20 bucks killed within a two-month period. Fortunately, officers were able to catch the individuals responsible for this grievous act. The combined efforts of concerned citizens and DWR officers brought successful conclusions to some, but most of them are still open cases.
Hunting the wild turkey in the spring is one of my treasured rituals. It’s the time of the year when I’ve stowed my ice fishing gear and I’m waiting for the lakes and reservoirs to open. Turkey hunting cures cabin fever.
As my eyes took in the side hill to the south, I noticed the white mustache and pointed ears of a mountain lion lying on a large boulder about 100 yards from where I sat. I didn’t see it move, and it was looking right at me so assumed that it had been watching me from the moment I arrived.
Participants were extremely satisfied with the experience—especially the opportunity to see these mysterious creatures in the flesh. There was also talk of how therapeutic it was to sit in the darkness and watch the stars from lawn chairs.
My charges include over 200 species of birds and dozens of mammals. Many of the latter (such as pygmy rabbits, American pika and northern flying squirrels) are poster children for cuteness. Most of our sensitive species can fit in your hand. One of these “sensitive” critters—and by far the largest of them—requires at least two people to handle: the California condor.