Fowl survey checks up on well being of the Nice Salt Lake | Surroundings

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Biologists and wildlife technicians with Utah Division of Wildlife Assets surveyed chicken populations within the wetlands surrounding the Nice Salt Lake’s Ogden Bay on Monday.

Approached by the uninteresting roar of the airboat — which has an enormous fan within the again quite than an engine — small birds with massive black ft, referred to as grebes, appeared to run throughout the water as they flapped their wings, looking for to flee.

These wetlands are shallow, with solely a few inches of water, so the grebes have been truly on firmer footing than it appeared, and the airboat, remarkably, one way or the other nonetheless managed to maneuver.

From the wetlands, the expanse of the Northern Wasatch Mountains was in view — from Ben Lomond to Bountiful.

John Neill, an avian biologist who drove the boat, stopped each jiffy, whereas he and three others on board raised their binoculars and quietly made tallies.

They have been in search of about 60 species of birds and had break up them as much as make the tallying extra manageable.

A flock of birds flew by and Jessica Swift, a wildlife technician, targeted intently as she counted.

Adam Wickline, one other wildlife technician, jokingly confirmed along with her that she “obtained each single one.”

This chicken survey was one in all two that the division conducts every spring out of 5 whole, with three within the fall.

It’s a continuation of an intensive five-year survey performed by the Division of Wildlife Assets as a part of The Nice Salt Lake Ecosystem Venture. As a part of that research, 51 websites have been surveyed 17 instances per yr.

Ogden Bay is likely one of the Nice Salt Lake’s 5 globally essential chicken areas, as recognized by Utah’s Necessary Fowl Areas Program, a partnership of “state and federal companies, quite a few conservation and birding organizations, and the tutorial neighborhood” that began in 2001, in keeping with the Audubon Society’s web site.

Necessary chicken areas are recognized on the state, continental and world ranges.

The Nice Salt Lake has one of many largest breeding colonies within the West of American White Pelicans — with 20,000 birds, Neill stated.

It additionally has the “largest inland staying inhabitants of Marbled Godwits,” Neill stated.

Neill stated that the chicken surveys are actually “a measure of the well being of the Nice Salt Lake.”

If the populations keep the identical over time, then it means they’ve enough meals and habitat.

“The place there’s water, there’s habitat,” Neill stated. “When it dries up, the birds depart.”

Final fall, the lake was one foot above the all-time low, Neill stated. It’s come up two ft since.

The extent of the lake is affected by growth additional north that makes use of water from the Bear River.

On the western shore of the Bear River Bay, there was a bunch of 4-5,000 geese that may collect there every June.

“Now it’s normally dry then, so that you don’t get as many geese there.”

Even the realm the place they launched the airboat was a sign of the change.

The dry floor the place the group loaded the boat onto a trailer was once a part of the lake — however it hasn’t been for the final couple of a long time as a result of the lake has been so low.

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