BIRDING SPOTS

where, when, and what to find

Public Shooting Grounds WMA

posted by Tim Avery at
on Monday, March 23, 2015 

Public Shooting Grounds WMA photo by Tim Avery


Description:
The WMA was established in 1928 in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management to specifically manage for waterfowl. Public Shooting Grounds is 11,758 acres and serves as important nesting, resting, and feeding habitat for a variety of waterfowl and shorebird species. The WMA is reported as being the first area set aside for public hunting of waterfowl in the United States.  Public Shooting Grounds WMA is a freshwater wetland complex consisting of uplands, mudflats, emergent marshes, and open water habitat. The North Entrance is accessed on 7200 North southwest of Salt Creek.  The South Entrance consists of five accesses occur along SR-83 beginning approximately 8 miles west of Corinne.  Access on the area is allowed the Thursday prior to the youth waterfowl hunt and throughout the waterfowl season. Permission to enter the area outside of these dates must be requested from the area manager prior to entering the area by calling 435-854-3610.  For birding purposes almost all birding at this location is done along UT-83 at various pull offs to view ponds visible from the roadway.

Birding:
The WMA really is known for its waterfowl.  Between October and March (especially in October and March) large numbers of waterfowl use the area during migration.  Enormous flocks of TUNDRA SWAN are found here on northbound migration in March most years. At least 14 other species of waterfowl have been found here, and big numbers of AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAIL, and GREEN WINGED TEAL are not uncommon during migration.  Shorebirds are also often seen in the shallow waters just off the highway.  Among the more notable finds here are SNOWY PLOVER, BAIRD'S SANDPIPER and a RUFF in December 2001.  AMERICAN AVOCET, BLACK-NECKED STILT, both species of YELLOWLEGS, WILLET, MARBLED GODWIT, and WESTERN SANDPIPER are all seen here annually. Both SHORT-EARED and BARN OWL can be found here as well.  In the drier habitats look for WESTERN KINGBIRD, SAGE THRASHER, and LARK SPARROW during the summer months.  GRASSHOPPER SPARROW has been observed and likely breeds here or nearby.  During the breeding season AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, CLARK'S GREBE, and FORSTER'S TERN can be found on the water, while MARSH WREN and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT are common in the reeds. and The Shooting Grounds has a nearly 100 species list and is growing.  If you're passing on your way west or east, its worth a quick stop to see what's on the water.

Directions:
From I-15 exit 365 head west on UT-13 for 2.5 miles to Corinne.  Continue west onto UT-83 for 8.9 miles till you reach the Public Shooting Grounds located on both sides of the highway.  There are various entry points along the road, as well as water viewable from the highway.

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