Saturday, July 31, 2010

See Mountain Goats in Unique Terrain

Photo by Lynn Chamberlain, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Beaver -- You could see as many as 100 mountain goats on Aug. 7.

And you may not need binoculars to see them. At some of the past viewing events on the Tushar Mountains, the goats have gotten as close as 35 feet to those viewing them!

On Aug. 7, the Division of Wildlife Resources will host its annual Goat Watch on the Tushar Mountains east of Beaver.

The event is free.
The trip will begin at 8 a.m. at the convenience store at the bottom of Exit 109 off Interstate 15. (Exit 109 is the exit on the south side of Beaver.)

From there, participants will caravan to the top of the Tushar Mountains. When you reach the top, you’ll be close to 11,500 feet above sea level.

Lynn Chamberlain, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR, says the view from the top of the Tushars is amazing. “You can see all of southern Utah,” he says. “And we can almost always find the goats.”

If binoculars or spotting scopes are needed, Chamberlain will have some you can borrow. But if you have your own viewing equipment, please bring it.

Chamberlain also encourages you to bring water, a hat, a jacket and a sack lunch. It’s also a good idea to travel in a vehicle that has high ground clearance. “The road can be rocky towards the top,” he says.

A unique area
In addition to seeing the mountain goats, you can explore the alpine-tundra ecosystem in which the goats live. Found only above the timberline at high elevations, it’s an ecosystem that’s uncommon in southern Utah.

Chamberlain says unique animals live in this alpine-tundra terrain, including yellow-bellied marmots and pika. “These high-elevation areas get extremely cold in the winter,” he says. ”To survive, the animals that live in them have adapted some pretty interesting behaviors.”

For more information about the goat watching event, call the DWR’s Southern Region office at (435) 865-6100.

See Ospreys August 7

Photo Courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Summit County -- Large fish-eating birds called ospreys will be the center of attention on Aug. 7.

That’s the day the Division of Wildlife Resource’s Watchable Wildlife program will host a free field trip to see the birds.

The field trip will be held in Summit County.

With their five-foot wing span, the ospreys will be easy to see. And if you attend the field trip, you might even see some turkey vultures and great blue herons, says Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the DWR.

To participate in the field trip, meet at the Rockport Reservoir dam from 6 to 7 p.m.

To reach Rockport, travel on Interstate 80 to Wanship. Then exit the freeway and travel south on state Route 32 to the dam observation site.

From the dam, participants will follow Walters in their own vehicles to viewing sites in and near Coalville, Wanship and Rockport State Park.

If you’d like to join the field trip at one of the viewing sites, please call Walters at (801) 209-5326 to make arrangements.

What you’ll see
Walters will have some binoculars and spotting scopes available, but if you have your own, he encourages you to bring them.

You’ll see osprey pairs and their young during the trip. Walters says each pair had one to three young, or eyases, this spring.

While there’s a chance you’ll see the ospreys fly, it’s more likely you’ll watch them as they feed and exercise their wings while on their nests. Sometimes three feet or taller in height, the nests themselves are something to see.

“The nests start looking like chimneys,” Waters says. “Sometimes I think they’d rather build nests than fish. It’s just incredible.”

During the trip, Walters will also point out waters you can visit at a later time to witness the spectacular feet-first ‘plunge dive’ of the osprey. Ospreys make these out-of-the-air dives to snatch fish that are swimming under the surface of the water.

Walters says ospreys are highly specialized to capture fish. Their outer toe is reversible, and their talons are covered with sharp hooks on the lower surface that allow them to grasp slippery fish in the water.

Walters calls the osprey’s plunge dive ”one of the true spectacles of nature.”