Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22 (Day 203) - A rosy day in Utah, Biking for Birds in Audubon Magazine!

Rosie O'Donnell? - Nope

Rosie Jetson? - Nah

Rosie the Riveter? - Not quite

Black rosy-finch - Hell yeah! Year bird #504!

This photo is just a teaser, so just keep reading for more shots of these guys!

The last two days have been totally dedicated to Black rosy-finch, and today this investment paid some huge dividends in the form of 20+ (yes, twenty plus!) Rosy-finches at the summit of Bald Mountain in the Uinta Mountains. I actually rode a bit further than I had planned yesterday. This put me in a very good position to hunt down the Rosy-finches today. Here is a revised map of my ride yesterday. The road up into the mountains, Route 150, was a really nice ride. It was also lined with campsites which meant I could reach a campsite, assess how I felt, and continue on if I felt OK. This allowed me to ride about 10 miles further than I had planned yesterday.

The route was a bit circuitous, but I did not want
to climb 6,000' feet over 45 miles on dirt roads.
Everything I rode yesterday was really well paved.

Today I got up early and headed directly uphill towards Bald Mountain Pass (10,700'). Sonia followed a few hours later. From here, we would climb Bald Mountain in search of the Rosy-finches. By adding those 10 miles yesterday, today's morning climb was 2200' vertical feet over 10 miles versus 3200' over 20 miles had I stopped where I had originally planned. The ride this morning was just gorgeous. We had perfect weather all day, and this made for an exceptionally nice day of birding. 

55 miles today - most downhill, unlike yesterday!

Lake on the way up to Bald Mountain

 Meadow below Bald Mountain

Bald Mountain

Sonia and I climbed the Bald Mountain trail. As soon as we got above treeline, we started to see fly-by birds that looked suspiciously like Black rosy-finches. A few minutes later we ran into another birder who had located a Rosy-finch on the ground. We had nice looks as this bird, but this was nothing compared to what was to come. The other birder was Luke Seitz. He is from Maine and is visiting Utah for much of the summer. I know his name as he is a really good young birder who has a great reputation around New England and beyond. It was nice to put a face to the name today. We spent the rest of the morning birding with Luke. As we climbed higher on the mountain, Rosy-finches became more and more abundant. There were numbers of fledglings testing their wings, and we got some amazing looks at these and their parents!

Luke and me

Juvenile Black rosy-finch

Adult Black-rosy-finch #1

Adult Black-rosy-finch #2

 Summit celebration!

Time to relax after finding the target bird!

As you can see today was wildly successful: year birds, new friends, and time with Sonia! After our Rosy-finch triumph and decent from Bald Mountain, we headed back down to Heber City for the night. Since we have been camping the last 3 nights, we were stoked to get into a motel and get a shower. Dinner at Tony's Taco's was ah-mazing. Sonia is half Mexican so I trust her analysis of the food. Tomorrow I am going to ride around the south end of the Wasatch Mountains and head into Sandy. I will probably take an off-day the following day before beginning the great Chukar search north of Salt Lake at Antelope Island.

Lastly, I recently did an interview with Audubon Magazine. The piece appeared online today! Please take a few minutes to check it out!

OK, OK, since you made it this far, I'll throw you one more bone. How about this shot of Townsend's solitaire from today!


  1. Hey Dorian,
    In case you haven't been to Antelope Island, rest assured that finding Chukar there is a piece of cake compared to the other gallinaceous birds you've been tracking down lately. They're easily findable any time of day, and you should see them hanging out on or around the rocks around the Visitor Center and the general area of where the causeway connects to Antelope Island. Enjoy SLC, - Dave

  2. As was stated above, chukar are extremely easy at Antelope Island. You shouldn't have any trouble at all locating them.