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Memories of Bicknell Bottoms

Bicknell Bottoms - SceneryLate in the spring of 2015 I was in on a six-week expedition through the Intermountain West. My good friend and fellow photographer Charlie introduced me to Ron Dudley, another talented and dedicated nature photographer from the Salt Lake City area. I was driving north through Utah and looking for birding destinations. I wasn’t scheduled to meet with Ron and his friend Mia McPherson for several days, and I asked Ron if there were any worthwhile locations in the middle of Utah that I might visit on my way north. I am in his debt for mentioning Bicknell Bottoms and putting me onto one of my all-time favorite birding destinations.

The valley hosting this wetland was once the site of a shallow lake, and the bed is now filled with silt and has transformed into a broad 670-acre marsh called the Bicknell Bottoms Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

The Fremont River flows through the valley and has its origins at Johnson Valley Reservoir, which is located to the west on the Wasatch Plateau near Fish Lake. When it leaves this valley it flows east through Capitol Reef and joins the Dirty Devil River and later feeds into the Colorado River near Lake Powell.

Spring and fall migration brings tons of warblers, swallows, sparrows, thrushes, waterfowl, wrens, blackbirds and others here to refuel before continuing on their journeys. Some, like Sandhill Cranes will remain long enough to raise families here.

Farm roads south of the town of Bicknell penetrate the wetlands as far as the Fremont River, and provide opportunities for intimate bird encounters. Southeast of Bicknell, where the river leaves the marshes and heads towards Capitol Reef, a road follows the southern margins of the wetland. The crossing provides possible meetings with waterfowl and other birds. Less than 3/4 of a mile west from the river crossing, there is a footpath leading into the marsh, for more potential avian encounters. Even if seeing birds isn’t on your agenda, the views from the southern boundary road are gorgeous.

The gallery below has some of my favorite images captured during my visits here.

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