Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Up in the Sky

What do you do in the winter when you live in Utah? Days are short, and nights are both long and butt-numbing cold. The obvious answer is providing orthopedic specialists and chiropractors with a high standard of living by participating in mountain impact sports such as skiing and snowboarding.

High on the list is cultivating a case of black, hairy lung from breathing in the toxic air trapped by the notorious Wasatch Front temperature inversion that is perpetual in January and February.

Yet another attractive option is spading a cubic hectare of snow from your driveway and sidewalks, resulting in a double hernia and a semi-permanent hunchback posture.

What else is there? Despite living within minutes of one of the region’s largest wetlands, most residents of the Salt Lake valley are oblivious to the fact that a significant migration of bald eagles passes through the area during the darkest, coldest part of winter. Some areas hold concentrations of as many as 80 of these majestic birds.

At the time of this writing, the build-up has already started. Over a dozen eagles have arrived in the particular area of Davis County that I frequent, and the numbers are increasing almost daily. The first 2 weeks of February should be prime time for baldies.

In the meantime, a wide variety of raptors can be seen during scouting trips. Northern harriers, several species of owls, kestrels, merlins, and other birds of prey become concentrated where open water can be found.

The clock is ticking, and just around the corner the annual avian extravaganza will be in full swing. Here are a few photos from this year’s scouting trips so far.