Saturday, July 31, 2010

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.”

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