EcoCenter offers Avian Adventure Migration tour
Kenny Frisch will lead the tour
Utah birder Kenny Frisch loves the 1,200-acre Swaner Preserve because it provides a safe haven for more than 125 species of birds throughout the year.
“That makes this a hot spot in Summit County for bird watching,” Frisch told The Park Record during an interview. “It’s this one undeveloped piece of land that all of these birds use.”
Frisch, who takes groups of people onto the Preserve to do some bird watching with the EcoCenter’s Avian Adventures in Migration field trips, is preparing for the next excursion on Sunday, Aug. 6, 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
“With these field trips, we meet at the Swaner EcoCenter and give a brief presentation that describes what we’ll look for out in the field,” Frisch said. “Then we’ll go out onto the Preserve itself.”
The group, which usually includes 12 people in addition to Frisch and Swaner EcoCenter staff, will head to one of two big ponds on the land, to scan the area with a scope to see some birds.
“From there, we’ll head out to the second pond and do the same thing,” Frisch said. “We’ll discuss and watch some of the birds who breed on the Preserve.”
The Avian Adventures in Migration trips are strategically scheduled so participants can see as many birds as possible.
“We did one in the spring during a time when the birds were heading north,” Frisch said. “The next two — the one in August and another in September — will be held when the birds start migrating back.
“The fun part about migration season is you don’t know what you will find. There can be any number of rare birds there.”
There are usually at least 30 species of birds that breed on the Preserve at tis time of the year.
“The sandhill cranes will have their colts hanging around,” Frisch said. “At any given time, there will be about 14 cranes in the area, and the numbers will get much bigger as they breed.”
Frisch — who writes blogs and posts on two local birding websites, utahbirders.com and eBird.org — said the tour group will also have a good chance to see shore birds flying south.
“We may also look for some of the ducks as well,” he said. “There are maybe five species of ducks that nest on the Preserve.”
Frisch will also see if the group can spot other unique species such as warblers, flycatchers and hawks.
“The thing I love about these field trips is seeing everyone’s reaction when they get a bird in a scope so they can see up close just how beautiful it is,” he said. “A lot of times they don’t have the optics to see these birds, or sometimes you can only get a glimpse of them because they are flying away.
“I also like sharing birds with people. It’s one thing to see these birds on your own, but it’s so much more fun to share the experience with others.”
Frisch’s fascination with birds was instilled in him as a child.
“I grew up in western New York and was lucky to have an aunt who was into birding, and she owned this fabulous piece of property with woods and a canal near Rochester,” he said. “She would take me out there and point out birds and the various things in the woods and canal.”
Frisch’s favorite bird is the merlin, a small species of falcon.
“They are like an avian badass because they think they own the sky,” he said. “So when they see bigger hawks, eagles, even turkey vultures, they’ll dive bomb them.
“Peregrine falcons get the attention because they are powerful divers, but merlins are better flyers. They can turn on a dime and do stuff you can never believe can be done in the air.”
An Avian Adventures in Migration tour will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 6, at the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter, 1258 W. Center Drive at Kimball Junction. Registration cost $20 per person or $10 for Swaner EcoCenter members. Registration is required and can be done by visiting events.r20.constantcontact.com. Participants should be prepared to hike on uneven ground and wear shoes that can get wet. Binoculars will be provided. For information, visit http://www.swanerecocenter.org.
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