Friday, September 14, 2018

Nature Experienceship: Birding at Antelope Island

This past Saturday, 25 people had the fantastic opportunity to go birding with Merrill Webb. As part of our Nature Experienceship programs, we traveled to Antelope Island early in the morning. This is an excellent area to bird watch, as the brine shrimp and brine flies are a 
great source of food for many varieties of birds. The Great Salt Lake is home to many 
millions of shorebirds, waterfowl, and other migratory birds throughout the year.

We didn’t even make it over the long bridge to the island before we had to pull over and admire the conglomeration of birds along the water’s edge. And, of course, to listen to the 
fabulous Merrill Webb identify and tell us everything that we could possibly want to know 
about them. He is truly a joy to experience these birds with. It was obvious how much he 
knew about them and how much passion and love he felt for them. 

The fabulous Merrill Webb

It was a beautiful sight to see thousands of birds swimming, diving, and flying close to the water in the morning sun. There were so many different kinds, some in their own exclusive groups and some intermingling freely with one another as they all fed in the shallow water. We saw shovelers, grebes, ibis, coots, stilts, avocets, sandpipers, curlews, and gulls all gathered in the shallow water. We were lucky enough to spot a rare willet, a large shorebird with distinctive and striking black-and-white wings.

Birds through a scope

Later on, once we reached the island, we used spotting scopes to admire a family of burrowing owls. We even saw one keeping a watchful eye over the horizon. Finally, the day was capped by visiting a hay barn where a great horned owl was resting and hiding from the midday sun. It wasn’t until we drove away that we saw another sleepy-looking horned owl perched in the rafters on the other side of the barn, directly above where we were.

Great horned owl through a scope

We even spotted an American bison scratching itself on a signpost!

All-in-all, it a very productive and worthwhile day for everyone involved. I would absolutely go again, as I’m sure anyone else who was lucky enough to be a part of this trip would. If you’re interested in a nature experienceship like this, be sure to check out our calendar!

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