2015-05-13 Drive to Pinedale

American Dipper - Cinclus mexicanusIt was a long drive out of Brigham City Utah to Pinedale Wyoming on this day. My first stop was precipitated by an ad hoc decision to investigate while climbing out of Logan Utah along the Logan River. This stream  is a fairly fast-moving river with steep rocky cliffs on both sides that made me think of American Dipper habitat. I had missed my chance while in Zion National Park for these birds, so they rated high on my image opportunity wish list. I found a short dirt track that exited my route on US Highway 89 I and parked a short distance from the highway. My very first peek over the river bank did not disappoint. There not 20 feet from where I parked was my target bird relaxing on a rock. It left that perch shortly thereafter, but I stuck around for about an hour and managed to get some shots that pleased me.

Ron Dudley told me that the Green River below Fontinelle Dam might be productive for birds, so I set my sites on this location as a target destination. The drive to the dam after leaving the Logan River and later Bear Lake, was largely sage scrub and prairie-like. Some of the vistas were spectacular due to the stormy weather all around. At one stop I made to take in some of the scenery, I encountered a Short-Eared Owl, a diurnal hunter that I don’t often get to see. While the pictures I captured were not great, they were the first of this species for my collection. The only other encounter I’ve had with this bird was coming north through the Richardson Mountains enroute to Fort McPherson along the MacKenzie River in the northern Yukon Province of Canada. On that day the birds were quite distant while flying over tundra.

When I did finally get to Fontinelle Dam, I could see how it might be good (depending on the season) for birds. It deserved more time than I had to give on this visit. I took a drive along the river’s edge in the Samurai that required 4wD to get through and when done, I had about a hundred pounds of mud attached to everything around and behind the wheels that required 15 to 20 minutes in the hand car wash to sanitize.

I got to the area near Pinedale late and found a room to let. While I was checking in, there was a big burly biker looking dude with a couple of items to buy (the store was where the rooms were rented) and I commented to the store manager that I wasn’t in a particular hurry, why not take care of the ‘gentleman’ behind me first. I looked back and the ‘biker’ started looking around in mock gesture to see who I could be speaking of and we had a good laugh. After leaving the store with his purchases he came back in and having seen my California plates, wanted to know where in California I came from. When I told him San Diego he said he was born there. I told him so was I. We yacked for a good half hour and he suggested I come by his shop in Pinedale in the morning, and that he worked with a nature photographer whose wife was often published in magazines. I had made a new friend in Andy.

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