where, when, and what to find

Antelope Island SP -- Marina

posted by Tim Avery at
on Thursday, February 12, 2015 

Antelope Island Marina from Google Street View

The marina at Antelope Island State Park is used to launch various craft on to the Great Salt Lake.  Most use is by the state as well as sailors launching private sail boats.  The marina has also been used by a minority of "hunters" who have taken to the practice of stalking birding listservs to attempt to hunt the rare ocean species of waterfowl that over winter here in small numbers.  Due to the drying up of the lake the marina sees far less usage then in former years.  The small marina has jetties/breakwalls on the north and west sides, while the causeway provides the break to the east.  To the south is the island with a decent amount of shrubsteppe habitat in direct view of the marina.  The north jetty can be walked while you can drive the west jetty via the south side of the parking lot at the marina.  Just follow the dirt road as it loops to the west.   The habitat at the marina is shrubsteppe as well as disturbed land, with a beach on the north side of the north jetty facing out.  Mud flats inside the jetties, and on the outside provide additional shorebird habitat.  The open water of the Great Salt Lake to the north and the west is the primary habitat at this location.

As with several locations on the island, the marina isn't a major birding destination, but a small part of the great birding on the island.  Scanning the shoreline inside the jetties, and on the beach to the north can turn up shorebirds in the spring and fall including RED-NECKED and WILSON'S PHALAROPE.  The beach here is a spot where RED PHALAROPE has been seen historically and is always worth checking.  Small flocks of WESTERN SANDPIPER are occasionally seen sheltering here, and have had BAIRD'S and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS mixed in. During the winter months SNOW BUNTING has been reported along the west jetty.  Sea ducks like HARLEQUIN DUCK, LONG-TAILED DUCK, SURF, WHITE-WINGED, and BLACK SCOTER have all been observed inside the breakwater as well as to the north from the jetties. Also during the winter look to the brushy areas south of the marina for AMERICAN TREE SPARROW.  In spring and summer breeding RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS can be seen and heard in the same area.  In May 2013 a LARK BUNTING was seen just up hill from the marina to the south.  One potential for the area that isn't often taken advantage of is a lake watch.  The area on the jetty provides a great vantage point looking north and to see birds following the causeway then heading west around the island in stormy weather.  A LONG-TAILED JAEGER in September 2014 was seen in this general area and these types of rare finds probably pass the island annually going unnoticed as they cruise out over the open water.

In Layton, take I-15 exit 332 west bound onto Antelope Drive for about 7 miles to the entrance station to the park.  After paying an entrance fee continue about 6 miles across the causeway to the island. The marina will be on your right when you arrive.

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