Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rocky Shores and More - Hogle Zoo

Rizzo the polar bear at Hogle Zoo

Rocky Shores opened at Hogle Zoo in June 2012.  It is a new section of the zoo which features bears, seals, otters, and more.  A large portion of the exhibit is filled with water, creating more natural environments for the zoo's residents.

Seals and a sea lion occupy this area of Rocky  Shores.

It is great fun to watch the animals below the water where they can really show their grace and skills.  When I visited, the seals spent almost all their time in the water.

Harbor seal swims by at Hogle Zoo.

Rizzo the polar bear was great at photobombing, providing wonderful picture opportunities for waiting parents and children.  Rizzo swam countless loops, and would "spyhop" up behind the children, letting parents include her in their family photo.

Polar bear poses for visitors.

Also new to Rocky Shores are three young grizzly bears.  Their habitat also includes a water feature, some shelter, and logs and obstacles for them to utilize.

Grizzlies at Hogle Zoo.

One thing I noticed in particular during this zoo visit, is that zoos play an important role in rehabilitating and preserving injured animals.  At the bald eagle enclosure, I noticed that their exhibit is open at the top.  Why didn't the birds fly away?  At least in one case, the answer soon became obvious.  One of the eagles who resides at the zoo has a damaged wing, preventing him from returning to the wild.

The eagle on the left is missing a huge part of his left wing.

One of the giraffes was missing part of a tail.  Although I don't think that really impacts her quality of life much, it was interesting to note that zoos play an important role in caring for vulnerable animals.

Giraffe with stumpy tail.

Hogle Zoo is currently constructing another new area that will be African themed.  I look forward to the return of lions to the zoo.  
We wandered over to see some of the smaller animals.  What zoo visit would be complete without a shot of my favorite resident?

Golden Tamarin at Hogle Zoo.

Tiny, active, and photogenic, the golden tamarin is one of my favorites.  Did you know that the father does much of the childcare?  I love these amazing little animals.

One-legged chicken.

At the bird enclosure I found another wounded resident.  This chicken gamely hopped around on her one good leg.

Spoonbill at Hogle Zoo

I also enjoyed seeing this spoonbill.  This large bird looks ready to dig with that bill!  Unfortunately for me, captive birds cannot be added to my birding life list.  It's a beautiful bird nonetheless.

Beehive at Hogle Zoo

Containing some of the smaller residents, I spied this beehive tucked away off the path.  Have you seen it in your visit to the zoo?  I wonder if the zoo harvests the honey.  Next time you visit with your children, maybe you could have them see if they can find the beehive.

Rizzo the polar bear above water.

Hogle Zoo is open all year, closing only for Christmas and New Year's day.  Although I often think of it as a summer destination, keep in mind animals may be more active in cooler weather, and it's more comfortable for the humans, too!

If you go:  Hogle Zoo is located at 2600 East Sunnyside Avenue in Salt Lake City.  Beginning on November 1, winter hours will be from 9am to 4pm (grounds stay open until 5pm).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Autumn

Great Blue Heron

Since it is National Wildlife Refuge Week we decided to head north to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge to see the fall migration.  About a week and a half ago, I checked the bird count on the refuge's website, and saw certain birds were at the refuge in the thousands.  However, days later, oh how things had changed!

Ducks in the distance

The ruddy ducks, northern shovelers, and other birds that had been listed in high numbers had all but disappeared on their journey south for the winter.  We could see a large number of ducks in the distance, but they were keeping to an area we could not access.  Even with our binoculars, we could not positively identify most of the ducks we saw.  Duck hunters were in the area, and some had quite a brace of birds, but they were scarce for us!

Long-billed Curlew

Fortunately, some birds stay at the refuge all year, and other birds were still passing through..  We spotted some birds familiar to us from our previous visit (like flocks of red-winged blackbirds), but also added some new birds to our list like this Long-billed Curlew.  We also saw pelicans flying overhead and sunning on an island in the water.

Clark's grebe

New this time for me was a view of this Clark's grebe.  It differs from the Western Grebe in that the black on its head does not extend below the eye.  Both types of grebe were present in the water.

California gulls

The gulls were everywhere, including lining the roads.  One of the highlights for me was the abundance of Great Blue Herons. They stood on the roadside, often on one long leg.  As our car approached, they would lower their leg and prepare for flight.  We saw at least a dozen during the 12-mile auto-tour loop.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron in flight

We also spotted over a dozen Northern Harriers.  These large predators glide low to the ground over the weeds to spot their prey.  We saw one eating a mouse by the side of the road.

Northern Harrier eating a mouse by the road

Northern Harrier in flight

At one of the observation decks we saw what looked like owl pellets.  They may have been from some other large bird.  Birds cough out these pellets containing the remains of their meal that did not digest.  My husband kicked one open on the decking, and we could see small animal bones leftover from a meal.

Bones in an "owl" pellet.

Near another observation deck, the mud was drying into a beautiful geometric pattern.  The autumn reds and golds of the weeds and grasses contrasted with the deep blue of the sky.

Patterns in the drying mud.

Before we left, we stopped to picnic in the parking area at the beginning of the loop.  A skunk ambled past the restrooms and our vehicle, and began exploring the grasses.  We stayed safely in the van until the skunk was past spraying distance.  If you go visit the bird refuge, keep an eye out for other wildlife.  In the spring we saw otters and a badger. This fall, we saw the skunk.

Skunk takes a stroll

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Autumn

The weather during our October visit was perfect, and the scenery was beautiful.  Even if we were not there during a big migration week, we enjoyed our visit and added several birds to our list.

Admission to the auto-tour route at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is free.  The loop is open year round, but does close at times due to flooding or snow.  It is advised that you call ahead to check the road conditions.  The population here changes constantly.  We are anticipating the return of the tundra swans who pass through the bird refuge every spring and fall.  Bald eagles will be coming soon, too, as the weather gets colder.  Unlike many of the other birds, the eagles come to Utah for the winter.

If you go:  You can reach the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge from Salt Lake City by traveling north on I-15.  Take exit 363, Forest Street in Brigham City. At the end of the off-ramp, turn left and travel west until you reach the auto-tour route.  You will pass the visitor's center just west of the freeway.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Public Art at Hogle Zoo

Polar Bear Sculpture at Hogle Zoo

Hogle Zoo boasts some new pieces of art, along with the traditional favorites.  This bear sculpture is in the new Rocky  Shores exhibit.  Rocky Shores opened during the summer 2012, and features a polar bear, grizzlies, and seals.  It is a great addition to the zoo.

Nautical decor in Rocky Shores

Rocky Shores is decorated in a nautical theme.  If you visit, make sure you look up to take in the displays.  The ceilings are hung with buoys and nets, and sometimes an animal mount or skeleton hangs above you.  Quotes on the walls add another artistic touch.

Quote on display at Hogle Zoo

Visitors have enjoyed previous art installations.  The giant elephant that plays music and "sneezes" water on young guests is a summer favorite.  One of the advantages of public art is its interactive nature.  Kids can touch the sculptures, or climb up for a photo.

The rhino is a popular photo spot.

As I wandered around the zoo, I started looking for more examples of art.  Some are easily visible along the walkways, but other art objects are tucked into quiet corners.  It adds a wonderful dimension to Hogle Zoo to have these little touches along the way.

Pagoda at Hogle Zoo

This little pagoda is a long time zoo resident.  I wonder how many people have even noticed it, though, as they herd children from one animal exhibit to another.

Wooden Wheelbarrow

This wooden wheelbarrow seems a bit out of place in the Asian Highlands, but it has a rustic charm.  My personal favorite of the new sculptures at Hogle Zoo is this graceful, granite seal.

Seal in Rocky Shores

The next time you are walking around a public space, take a few moments to look at the art on display.  Watch the kids climb on a sculpture, read a quote, or enjoy the design of a fountain.  I think public art is a gift to everyone, and enhances the visitor's experience.  Art is all around you!

Mother bear and cubs

If you go:  Hogle Zoo is open year round, but is closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.  As we head into winter, the admissions hours are from 9am to 4pm, with the grounds closing at 5pm.  Hogle Zoo is located at 2600 East Sunnyside Avenue in Salt Lake City.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Colors in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Autumn comes to Mt. Olympus

When the hillsides of Mount Olympus started glowing red, it was time to head up the canyon to take in the annual show.  We went up on a cloudy, cool Sunday afternoon (Sept. 24), and the colors had not yet peaked.  My drive of choice that day was up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Big Cottonwood is not far from Salt Lake City, and is home to both the Solitude and Brighton ski resorts.  

Fishing from a boat on Silver Lake

The canyon was very busy the day we drove up.  Cars filled the pull-outs and camera-wielding people were everywhere.  We saw photographers setting up their huge camera lenses, families dressed up to capture a great outdoor portrait, and people taking casual shots with their phones.  Several people were fishing both from the boardwalk and the water at Silver Lake.

Duck paddles back toward the open water of the lake.

We wandered past the beaver dam, and stopped to watch a duck making her way through this water channel back to the lake.  It was nice to get out and enjoy the fresh air today!

Aspen leaves

Aspen trees are one of the world's largest living organisms.  Really.  The largest stand is actually in Utah and is nicknamed "Pando."  That particular stand of aspen trees numbers over 47,000 trees, and is ONE organism.  But I love aspen trees for their quaking leaves and their fall colors.

Section of trail around Silver Lake

The deep greens of the evergreen contrasted beautifully with the warm yellows of the aspen.  We did not see many birds or critters on our walk around the lake...perhaps because there were so many people there that day.  But nature's color show was enough.

Silver Lake in autumn

This view from the other side of the lake was also beautiful.  The walk around the lake is approximately one mile.  There is little elevation change.  Sections include boardwalks which are navigable by anyone.  Other parts of the trail are improved dirt sections.

The reds of autumn.

Although the colors had not peaked at the end of September, they have peaked now.  However, if you have not ventured out to enjoy the autumn leaves, you can still see many colors and enjoy the scenery now, even if it is post-peak.  This stand of red trees was a popular backdrop for many families taking photos.

Art Family at Silver Lake

As we drove down the canyon, we stopped to take in the other tree colors in Big Cottonwood.  At Silver Lake, you will find mostly aspen and pine trees.  Lower down, other colors come into play.

View in Big Cottonwood Canyon

We took our time winding down the canyon, and stopped in a few locations to take photos.  There are ample pull-outs and parking areas along the route.  Rock climbers were out in abundance the day we went, taking advantage of the fall weather.

View driving down Big Cottonwood Canyon

It is an amazing gift of nature each year as the colors flame to life, peak, and fade heading into winter.  The sunset of the seasons.  Autumn is my favorite time of year, and this year did not disappoint!

Babo's Bird enjoys the fall colors.

Artwife at Silver Lake

This was one of my last autumn outings with hair!  It was about two weeks after my first chemotherapy, and my hair was beginning to fall out.  We shaved it the next night, but I wanted a fall photo to remember it by!  Some came out in my hand at the lake, and I set it adrift on the wind.  I kind of liked leaving a little piece of me at the lake!  It was a beautiful day, and I was blessed to enjoy it with my husband and son.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Artistic Side of a President

Jimmy Carter

Today is the 88th birthday of the 39th U.S. president, Jimmy Carter.  Carter, as you may recall, won the election in 1976.  What you may not know, however, is that nearly 20 years after that election, in 1995, he published a book of poetry.  Titled "Always a Reckoning," the book is filled with down home, folksy poems that are reflections on Carter's life and career.  While some trace his early forays into politics, many focus on family and growing up in Georgia.  

Book of poems from a former President.

This slim volume of poetry found its way to my bookshelf many years ago, and I still like to pull it out and read my favorites.  To me, it is interesting to see another side of a person, not just their public face. So, in honor of his 88th birthday, I thought I would share a couple of poems from the book that I like.  The first is about Carter's mother, Lillian, and the second is about fishing. Enjoy!

Miss Lillian Sees Leprosy for the First Time
When I nursed in a clinic near Bombay,
a small girl, shielding all her leprous sores,
crept inside the door.  I moved away,
but then the doctor called, "You take this case!"
First I found a mask, and put it on,
quickly gave the child a shot and then,
not well, I slipped away to be alone
and scrubbed my entire body red and raw.

I faced her treatment every week with dread
and loathing--of the chore, not the child.
As time passed, I was less afraid,
and managed not to turn my face away.
Her spirit bloomed as sores began to fade.
She'd raise her anxious, searching eyes to mine
to show she trusted me.  We'd smile and say
a few Marathi words, then reach and hold
each other's hands.  And then love grew between
us, so that, later, when I kissed her lips
I didn't feel unclean.

Illustration by Sarah Elizabeth Chuldenko (age 16 at the time)

Those who fish for trout
go where beauty is,
where air is incense, where
no poison stains.
Congenial friends may share
these lonely streams,
but they must stay past bend
or waterfall.
Testing oneself is best
when done alone.

We try to learn the secrets
of the stream,
how currents run, what drifts
in quiet depths
or sweeps around the stones
to tempt a fish;
what artifice can stir
the same desire
with feathers and some fur
a barb within.
A trout is never trusting.

We learn by using
simple, ancient gear,
the history of an art--
and we learn patience, too,
sometimes the hardest part.

The solitude,
relief from care,
frustrating doubt
about our angling skills--
these stay with those who fish for trout.