Monday, March 25, 2013

Birding at Farmington Bay Part 2

Canada geese at Farmington Bay

Leaving the Goose Egg Island area, it was only a short drive to the Great Salt Lake Nature Center.  The turnoff to the Nature Center is near the end of Glover Lane.

Road to the Great Salt Lake Nature Center

The road is marked with faded brown signs, and you can see the Nature Center from Glover Lane, so I didn't think this was particularly difficult to find.  However, Glover Lane doesn't have a lot of signage, so do watch for the turn-off.

Great Salt Lake Nature Center

The Great Salt Lake Nature Center has a large parking area, a couple of buildings, vault toilets, and a viewing deck.  Inside the Nature Center you can read information on the local birds, pick up a brochure or two, and view taxidermy mounts of birds.

Barn Owl and Short-Eared Owl

For Tundra Swan Day, the Nature Center also had tissue paper and origami instructions for folding a swan.  This is a nice little one-roomed building and only takes a few minutes to explore.

Ducks and geese adorn the walls of the Great Salt Lake Nature Center.

Being able to view a bird up close makes it easier to identify them in the field at a distance.  There are several quality mounts here, including a tundra swan.  The Nature Center is a great way for children to see the birds up close.

Great Blue Heron Rookery

Just outside the parking area is the Great Blue Heron Rookery.  This nesting site is closed to the public, but you can see the birds and their nests from the Nature Center parking area.  It was fun to see these long-legged birds on their nests.  From the parking area, we walked on a boardwalk trail that is ADA accessible. We wandered past ponds and to observation points, and although I could not always see the birds, I could definitely hear them, as well as croaking frogs. I even saw a muskrat in the water.

Observation deck near the Great Salt Lake Nature Center.

I passed Canada geese feeding in the brush, and also saw several flying overhead.  One called to them from the water, and the group honked back.

Canada geese in flight

One of the birds that was "new" for me on this visit was a redhead duck.  They look a lot like a canvasback, but have a grayer body, and a light bill.  This pair of redheads were swimming along together on one of the ponds.

Redhead ducks at Farmington Bay

The Great Salt Lake Nature Center is open from 8am to 4:30pm on weekdays, and is only open on some Saturdays. The boardwalk and center are very kid-friendly, and it is wonderful to have this expanse of open space so close to Salt Lake City.

Nesting box

From the trails, we could see various styles of nesting boxes.  I wonder who will take up residence in this box this summer?  It was a great day to visit the Great Salt Lake Nature Center, and I plan to make my way here again!

If you go:  From Salt Lake City, drive north on I-15.  Take Exit 322 (this is the Farmington/Lagoon exit).  The off ramp forks.  Take the right fork (the left fork goes to Lagoon).  Continue on the off-ramp until you reach the turn-off to the frontage road.  Turn right onto the frontage road.  This road curves, and you will be heading south parallel to the freeway.  Turn right (west) on 925 S. which is Glover's Lane.  Glover's Lane will take you to the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management area.  If you turn left on 1325 West, you will be on the road that will take you to Goose Egg Island and the Main Dike Road.  Continue on Glover's Lane to reach the Great Salt Lake Nature Center.  Turn left before the end of the road to reach the Nature Center.  You will be able to see it from Glover's Lane. 

To see more birds, including tundra swans, see Birding at Farmington Bay

Friday, March 22, 2013

Birding at Farmington Bay

Great Blue Heron at Farmington Bay

Last Saturday, March 16, was "Tundra Swan Day" at the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area.  Since I had not yet managed to see a tundra swan during their migration through northern Utah, I decided to try my luck at Farmington Bay.  This Great Blue Heron posed for photos near the entrance to the refuge.  The water was so still, his reflection was very clear!

Bald Eagle at Farmington Bay

Binoculars are very helpful in viewing the birds at Farmington Bay.  Some Division of Natural Resources (DNR) employees told me the ice on the water had broken up about a week ago, and the birds had a larger range in which to feed.  As I drove toward into the refuge area, I spotted this bald eagle.  Bald eagles winter in Utah, and are quite prevalent in January and February in this area, but this one lingered into March.

Goose Egg Island

My next stop was Goose Egg Island.  This part of Farmington Bay is open year round.  Some areas close during nesting season. Goose Egg Island is not really an island, but a mound formation from which you can view ponds and birds.

Turn-off to the Goose Egg Island parking area.

This dirt road takes you to the parking area on top of Goose Egg Island.  Today there were birders and families here, but there was ample parking, and fortunately it was not too muddy.  From Goose Egg Island I had my first look at a tundra swan.  I also saw Canada geese, American coots, and some northern shovelers.

Two tundra swans as seen from Goose Egg Island.

I drove down the dike road to see more birds. The "Unit 1 Dike" to the Turpin parking area is open year round to bicycle and foot traffic.  It closes to motorized vehicles during nesting season.  At the end of the road,  DNR employees had some spotting scopes set up and were on hand to distribute information and answer questions.  They informed me there were about 5000 tundra swans in the area.  I probably saw over 50 on my visit.

Tundra Swans dozing at Farmington Bay

After viewing the swans and seeing more American coots, I headed back to Glover Lane to visit another part of this refuge.  The Great Salt Lake Nature Center is also part of the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, and that is where I headed next.

My bird list for the day:
Red-winged blackbird
Canada goose
bald eagle
great blue heron
tundra swan
northern shoveler
American coot
redhead duck

For info on the Great Salt Lake Nature Center also at Farmington Bay, see Birding at Farmington Bay Part 2.

To see other posts about birding in Utah visit:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Another Year, Another Pi Day!

It's that time of year again, Pi Day!  Did you know that pi has been extended beyond 6 billion digits?  Or that a Japanese man once recited over 83,000 digits of pi that he had memorized?  You needed an excuse for pie, today, right?  Happy March 14th!

Here is my "pi-ku" (Haiku, but follows a pi pattern of syllables, 3 - 1 - 4).

I would like
large piece of pie.

See how easy it is?  Try it, and let me know your results!

For links and fun ideas for celebrating Pi Day, check out my previous blog post.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Create Your Own Film Festival - Part 2

Movie Poster - Mao's Last Dancer

Now that you have watched your animation choice and documentary (see Create Your Own Film Festival - Part 1), it is time to curl up with popcorn and a feature film.  Here are a few quality movies that you may have missed, or that you may want to see again.  Each works well as a stand alone film, or as part of your own "festival" experience.

Scene from "Mao's Last Dancer"

Mao's Last Dancer (2009) is the story of Li Cunxin, who, at the tender age of 11, was taken from his home in China and placed in training for classical ballet at the Madame Mao's Dance Academy in Beijing.  Years later, he goes to Houston on a cultural exchange and performs with the ballet company there.  Li Cunxin falls in love with another dancer, Elizabeth Mackey, and faces a difficult choice:  marry her and defect to the US, or leave her behind and return to China.  The cinematography in this autobiographical movie is stunning.  This is a beautiful movie, and a story that will stay with you long after the film is done.  Mao's Last Dancer is rated PG.

A Separation - Movie Poster

A Separation (2011) is an Iranian movie about the difficult choices we face in a family.  It won both an Oscar and Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Language Film. Simin and Nader are a married couple with a young daughter (Temeh).  Nader feels he must stay in Iran and care for his aging father who suffers from Alzheimer's.  He fulfills his responsibilities as a son with tenderness and devotion.  His wife, Simin, however, wishes to move to another country to give their young daughter more opportunities.  Nader cannot leave his father, and cannot take him with them to another land, and as a married lady, Simin cannot leave the country without Nader's permission.  So, Simin makes the difficult choice to seek a divorce. This couple clearly loves each other, and there is no easy solution to the dilemmas they face.  This is a thoughtful movie, and very well made.  A Separation is rated PG-13.

Sarah's Key promotional poster

Sarah's Key (2010) is based on the novel of the same name by Tatiana De Rosnay.  In Sarah's Key, journalist Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas) is researching the Vel d'Hiv roundup of Jews in 1942 Paris for an article.  One of 13,000 victims was young Sarah Starzynski.  As the police rounded up her family to take them to a stadium in Paris, Sarah hides her younger brother in a secret cupboard to protect him. Her actions have devastating consequences.  As Julia investigates this event in Paris, she finds many are reluctant to discuss this awful history.  She also learns of Sarah's terrible secret, and that her husband's family have secrets of their own.  How do you live with the consequences of your choices, and how do you move on from the past?  These are questions raised in this film.  I was not very familiar with Vel d'Hiv, and learned a lot from this movie.  Sarah's Key is rated PG-13.

The Visitor - Movie poster

The Visitor (2007) tells the story of professor Walter Vale.  He is lonely, widowed, and teaching part time. He returns to New York for a speaking engagement, only to find his apartment occupied by a young immigrant couple.  Vale sympathizes with the young couple, Syrian- born Tarek and Senegalese Zainab, and agrees to let them stay.  Tarek teaches Walter to play an African drum, and the two become friends.  When Tarek is arrested after a subway incident and taken to a detention center, Walter hires a lawyer to help his young friend.  Meanwhile, Tarek's mother shows up, and Vale discovers he may be able to love again. The plight of illegal immigrants is not played for sentimentality in this moving story, and the ending will make you think.  This is a film that leaves the you examining your views of a complex and timely issue.  The Visitor is rated PG-13.

Check out my other blog posts for more film festival ideas, and happy watching!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

From "Green Eggs and Ham"

In honor of "Green Eggs and Ham" and Dr. Seuss, don't be afraid to try something new.  You might like it!

"Say!  I like green eggs and ham!  I do!  I like them, Sam-I-am!"