Club member Mike Ford’s August presentation described his two and a half month stay at the Rio Mesa Research Field Station in the wild canyon lands of southeast Utah, USA, from April to June 2016.
His mission was to run the migration ringing station there, with the help of two very willing and likeable post-graduate assistants, Olivia and Travis.
During this period they ringed (“banded”, as it is called in America) over 1,200 birds of 65 different species as these migrants moved through the area on their Spring return journey from Central and South America.
The conditions were very relaxed and not at all stressful, unlike the 24 hour Turkish stations where Mike had worked previously. Ringing took place from dawn until noon, with the rest of the day off, and the team had two days off after each ten day period.
During these days off they visited the desert parks of Utah, famous for their spectacular rock formations and canyons, including the unique slot canyons with their very narrow winding crevice trails.
They also spent time birding in the Boulder Mountains, visited Grand Junction on the edge of the Rocky Mountains, and rafted down the mighty Colorado River, where they saw the Bald Eagle, Sandhill Cranes and Great Blue Herons, among others.
“One particular sighting as we were driving on the outskirts of Moab town caused huge excitement – a Greater Roadrunner!” Mike said. “It was a special lifer for all of us. All these exciting activities made the stay more like a holiday than a working project, and it was all too soon time to pack up the station and return home via Salt Lake City.”