Westwings Himalayan Snowcock Tour

(NEW) Himalayan Snowcock PLUS 2007
“I applaud your tour and your leadership. Great!”Arthur Bergey, York Pennsylvania

Bird List

August 3-9, 2007
$1295, all-inclusive
from Salt Lake City, Utah

This “new” tour is an outgrowth of a special tour we designed and have run for several years with Jaeger Tours. It combines the quest for the Himalayan Snowcock, one of the lower 48 states’ greatest birding adventures, with some of the best northern Utah birding. You’ll enjoy Nevada’s scenic Ruby Mountains and everything else that’s a part of the regular Snowcock Tour, and add the famous Bear River Bird Refuge at the height of the fall shorebird migration, the avian and wildlife riches of Deseret Ranch, the montane forests of the Uinta Mountains, the raw beauty of the Great Salt Lake, and much more. If you want to try for the snowcock, but would like to include some of the West’s best birding while you’re here, then this is the tour for you.

August 3rd After a mid-morning arrival in Salt Lake City, we make the three-hour drive to Elko, Nevada with perhaps a few short birding stops on the way. We pass through good shorebird habitat along the world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats of the south shore of the Great Salt Lake possibly picking up Baird’s Sandpiper, Snowy Plover, and other shorebirds. After we enter Nevada, we pass through some ridges covered with pinyon-juniper woodlands in the Pequop Mountains, where we'll have a chance to see Pinyon Jay, Juniper Titmouse, Gray Flycatcher and other birds of this specialized habitat. We'll have an early dinner in Elko, and do a little birding around town afterwards, looking for waders, California Quail, and western songbirds in the riparian habitat along the East Humboldt River.

August 4th Our day starts early, 3am for light snacks before we leave for Lamoille Canyon and the trailhead. From there we hike 2 miles to Island Lake, from the lake we'll head up into the cirque above the lake to look for snowcocks. We will have breakfast on the trail and spend most of the morning in the cirque, looking for snowcocks, Black Rosy-Finch and enjoying the many other birds and the spectacular scenery of this alpine area.

As the morning progresses we leave the lake, birding our way back to the trailhead (numerous good birds are possible, including Blue Grouse, hummingbirds, western empids, warblers, sparrows and finches). On our way back to town we'll stop at the mouth of the canyon, where a grove of large cottonwoods is home to a colony of Lewis's Woodpeckers, and where other birds, such as Chukar, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Green-tailed Towhee, and Lazuli Bunting can be seen.

After lunch in town, we take a short break for a nap, a swim or relaxation, and then spend the late afternoon birding in the Elko area. A trip to South Fork Reservoir, about 15 minutes southwest of town, will round out our list with an amazing variety of waders, waterfowl, shorebirds and terns. The drive to the reservoir, through rolling sagebrush-covered hills, gives us a chance to see sagebrush birds such as Sage Thrasher and Brewer's Sparrow. We return to Elko for dinner at one of the town’s famous Basque restaurants.

August 5th This morning, we have one last chance to try for the snowcock (if we need it) before birding our way back to Utah. If we try for the snowcock, our activities will be exactly as in the previous morning. Otherwise, we'll do some early morning birding in the town of Lamoille and the adjacent Lamoille Valley, where wet meadows and riparian woodlands lie at the base of the Ruby Mountains. Raptors, Sandhill Cranes, hummingbirds and many western songbirds will be the main targets of the morning.

After lunch we leave for Utah, going around the Great Salt Lake to the north, passing through very remote Great Basin desert vegetation and pinyon-juniper covered mountains.  In addition to the birds of the pinyon-juniper mentioned earlier, we may find Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Chukar, Sage Sparrow and Black-throated Sparrow. We’ll check into our motel in Brigham City, and after dinner head north into the grasslands and agricultural areas of the Whites Valley where we’ll look for Swainson’s Hawk, Gray Partridge, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Grasshopper Sparrow and Short-eared Owl.

August 6th This morning we visit the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, where huge numbers of shorebirds and waterfowl congregate at this time of year. A lot depends upon water levels but we should come across Western and Clark’s Grebe’s, American White Pelicans, California Gulls, Cinnamon Teal, White-faced Ibis, Long-billed Dowitchers, Marbled Godwits, various sandpipers, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilts, Caspian and Forster’s Terns, Marsh Wrens and Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

After lunch we head east into the beautiful Cache Valley, where the mix of agricultural lands, riparian woodlands, and wetlands can produce some great birding. We pass through the town of Logan, and into scenic Logan Canyon, the route we’ll take to cross the Bear River Range, where the montane woodlands may give us views of Northern Goshawk, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Williamson’s Sapsucker, American Dipper, Clark’s Nutcracker and more. Just past the summit we’ll be presented with a spectacular view of the deep-blue Bear Lake in the valley below. We’ll pass along the shore of the lake as we head south and east to Deseret Ranch, one of Utah’s greatest birding locations.

August 7th We spend the entire day today touring the vast Deseret Ranch. At over 200,000 acres, the ranch is the largest piece of private property in Utah. The ranch is managed to maintain a healthy and diverse ecosystem, with sagebrush, grasslands, riparian, aspen and fir stands, mammals including Elk, Pronghorn, Coyotes, Moose, Beaver, White-tailed Jackrabbits and White-tailed Prairie Dogs and birds abounded.

Over 270 species of birds have been seen there. Among the "ranch specialties" are Greater Sage- and Blue Grouse, but many other birds can be seen there as well, including Golden Eagle and Prairie Falcon, Flammulated Owl, Common Poorwill, Sage Sparrow, Green-tailed Towhee, Canyon Wren, MacGillivary’s and Virginia’s Warbler as well as an assortment of western empidonax flycatchers.

August 8th We leave early for the Uinta Mountains east of Salt Lake City. Here we will have a chance for some upper elevation species including Mountain Bluebird, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee, both kinglets, Clark’s Nutcracker, Red Crossbill, Cassin’s Finch, Pine Grosbeak, Gray Jay, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Three-toed Woodpecker and there’s always a chance of Black Swift, Black Rosy-Finch and Northern Goshawk.

The afternoon will be spent at Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake to look for Bison, Burrowing Owl, Barn Owl and Chukar and where we'll have another taste of the shorebird migration on this inland sea. This truly can be one of the west's greatest birding spectacles with a million Wilson's Phalaropes joined hundreds of thousands of other shorebirds on the lake and the surrounding wetlands including Red-necked Phalaropes and more Eared Grebe’s than you’ve ever seen before. Along the 7-mile causeway that runs to the island, Franklin’s Gulls and Long-billed Curlews spend the day chasing Brine Flies along the shoreline. After dinner we’ll look for Western Screech Owl.

August 9th Our final morning will be spent around Salt Lake City in the foothills and canyons of the Wasatch Mountains. At the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon lies the resort village of Brighton and picturesque Silver Lake. Possibilities in the canyon include American Dipper, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Red-naped Sapsucker, Olive-sided and Hammond’s Flycatcher, Hermit Thrush, MacGillivary’s Warbler, Band-tailed Pigeon, California Quail, Evening Grosbeak, Black-headed Grosbeak, Steller’s Jay and Western Scrub-Jay. By late-morning we'll return to Salt Lake City and the airport for your flights home, full of memories of the beauty and abundance the west has to offer.

If you have further questions regarding this trip, please call toll free (866) 552-0221, or e-mail to cbirds@westwings.com

“Just wanted to let you know how much I thoroughly enjoyed the couple days we spent chasing birds together. You did a terrific job leading and taking us to some great birds. You run a class show . . . the highlight was the bird. What a bird and what a location! The Alpine glow, the sunrise, the wild flowers. It was just a great day. I told you I pick my bird of the year each year based on the overall Gestaldt of the chase. It will take a real adventure to top this one. Thanks for the experience.” Paul Berrigan, Farmington Hills Michigan

Bird List from the Himalayan Snowcock Tour (List for the additional days coming soon)

This is the list of birds seen in recent years on this tour. Birds marked with an asterisk (*) are rare, and not to be expected on most tours. If the snowcock is seen on the first morning, a trip list for this tour will typically be about 110-130 species. The birds seen on any tour will vary, according to the yearly fluctuations in bird numbers, the desires of tour participants, and luck.

 Canada Goose
 Gadwall
 American Wigeon
 Mallard
 Blue-winged Teal*
 Cinnamon Teal
 Northern Shoveler
 Northern Pintail
 Green-winged Teal
 Canvasback
 Redhead
 Lesser Scaup
 Bufflehead
 Common Merganser
 Ruddy Duck
 Chukar
 Himalayan Snowcock
 Greater Sage-Grouse
 Blue Grouse
 Wild Turkey
 California Quail
 Pied-billed Grebe
 Eared Grebe
 Western Grebe
 Clark's Grebe
 American White Pelican     
 Double-crested Cormorant                 
 Great Blue Heron
 Great Egret
 Snowy Egret
 Cattle Egret
 Black-crowned Night-Heron              
 White-faced Ibis
 Turkey Vulture
 Osprey
 Northern Harrier
 Sharp-shinned Hawk
 Cooper’s Hawk
 Northern Goshawk*
 Red-shouldered Hawk*
 Swainson's Hawk
 Red-tailed Hawk
 Ferruginous Hawk
 Golden Eagle
 American Kestrel
 Peregrine Falcon
 Prairie Falcon
 Sora
 American Coot
 Sandhill Crane
 Snowy Plover
 Semipalmated Plover*
Killdeer
 Black-necked Stilt
 American Avocet
 Greater Yellowlegs
 Lesser Yellowlegs
 Solitary Sandpiper*
 Willet
 Spotted Sandpiper
Long-billed Curlew
 Marbled Godwit
 Sanderling
 Semipalmated Sandpiper
 Western Sandpiper
 Least Sandpiper
 Baird's Sandpiper
 Short-billed Dowitcher*
 Long-billed Dowitcher
 Wilson’s Snipe
 Wilson's Phalarope
 Red-necked Phalarope
 Franklin's Gull
 Bonaparte's Gull
 Ring-billed Gull
 California Gull
 Caspian Tern
 Common Tern
 Forster's Tern
 Black Tern
 Rock Pigeon
 Mourning Dove
 Flammulated Owl
 Western Screech-Owl
 Great Horned Owl
 Long-eared Owl
 Short-eared Owl
 Common Nighthawk
 White-throated Swift
 Black-chinned Hummingbird
 Calliope Hummingbird
 Broad-tailed Hummingbird
 Rufous Hummingbird
 Belted Kingfisher
 Lewis' Woodpecker
 Red-naped Sapsucker
 Downy Woodpecker
 Hairy Woodpecker
 Northern Flicker
 Olive-sided Flycatcher
 Western Wood-Pewee
 Willow Flycatcher
 Hammond’s Flycatcher
 Gray Flycatcher
Dusky Flycatcher
Cordilleran Flycatcher
 Say's Pheobe
 Western Kingbird
 Eastern Kingbird
 Loggerhead Shrike
 Plumbeous Vireo
Cassin’s Vireo
 Warbling Vireo
 Steller's Jay
 Western Scrub-Jay
 Pinyon Jay
 Clark's Nutcracker
 Black-billed Magpie
 American Crow
 Common Raven
 Horned Lark
 Tree Swallow
 Violet-green Swallow
 No. Rough-winged Swallow
 Bank Swallow
 Cliff Swallow
 Barn Swallow
 Black-capped  Chickadee
 Mountain Chickadee
 Juniper Titmouse
 Bushtit
 Red-breasted Nuthatch
 White-breasted Nuthatch
 Brown Creeper
 Rock Wren
 House Wren
 Marsh Wren
 American Dipper
 Golden-crowned Kinglet
 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
 Mountain Bluebird
 Townsend's Solitaire
 American Robin
 Gray Catbird
 Sage Thrasher
 European Starling
 American Pipit
 Cedar Waxwing
 Tennessee Warbler*
 Orange-crowned Warbler
 Nashville Warbler
 Virginia’s Warbler
 Yellow Warbler
 Yellow-rumped Warbler
 Black-throated Gray Warbler
MacGillivray’s Warbler
 Wilson’s Warbler
 Yellow-breasted Chat
 Western Tanager
 Green-tailed Towhee
 Spotted Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
 Brewer's Sparrow
 Vesper Sparrow
 Lark Sparrow
 Sage Sparrow
 Savannah Sparrow
 Fox Sparrow
 Song Sparrow
 Lincoln’s Sparrow
 White-crowned Sparrow
 Dark-eyed Junco
 Black-headed Grosbeak
 Lazuli Bunting
 Bobolink
 Red-winged Blackbird
 Western Meadowlark
 Yellow-headed Blackbird
 Brewer's  Blackbird
 Common Grackle*
 Great-tailed Grackle
 Brown-headed Cowbird
 Bullock’s Oriole
 Black Rosy-Finch
 Pine Grosbeak
 Cassin's Finch
 House Finch
 Pine Siskin
 Lesser Goldfinch
 American Goldfinch
 Evening Grosbeak
 House Sparrow
 
MAMMALS
Bat, sp.
Striped Skunk
Coyote
Red Fox
Yellowbelly Marmot
Rock Squirrel
Ground Squirrel sp.
Least Chipmunk
Porcupine
Pika
Black-tailed Jackrabbit
Mountain Cottontail
Mule Deer
Pronghorn
Mountain Goat
For general questions and information email cbirds@westwings.com: For reservation status or account information email assistant@westwings.com: Or contact us by phone toll free at 866-552-0221: Our local number is 801-487-9453
Please send reservation forms and other mail to
Westwings, Inc.
P.O. Box 521720
Salt Lake City UT, 84152
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