where, when, and what to find

Antelope Island SP -- Visitor Center & Loop Rd

posted by Tim Avery at
on Friday, February 13, 2015 

Loop Road from Google Street View

The loop road begins when you reach the island. Typically for birding purposes you will want to go to the right at the large sign where the road splits.  From here the road passes through mostly shrubsteppe as it heads west till you reach a pull off at Lady Finger Point.  Lady Finger Point is also a hot spot in eBird and more location can be found on its location page.  The road loops back to the south east here passing through open grassland with mixed shrubsteppe and quite a few exposed rocks.  The Visitor Center rises to your left and can be reached by taking the road up to it.  The habitat surrounding the visitor center is the same, with more exposed rock.  Heading south the habitat is all open grassland and mixed shrubsteppe as you head south along the large beach to your west here.  Imported sand was brought in hoping to make a great beach atmosphere before the lake started receding.  The road eventually turns east and heads across open grasslands before coming to a T intersection.  Going right will take you to the White Rock Bay & Corrals hot spot, or going left will take you back to the north where you can access the Road to Garr Ranch, and Garr Ranch, as well as the Marina, the Causeway, and the start of the loop road again.

There are a couple of birds that birders typically visit this area for. Most notably is the resident population of CHUKAR that are often seen around the visitor center, as well as the north part of the loop road.  This is the most reliable location in Utah for this species, and perhaps one of the best in the United States.  It can be found year round, usually in the rocky areas, but also passing between in the shrubsteppe.  While looking for this game bird you often will hear or come across ROCK WRENS, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, WESTERN MEADOWLARK, and HORNED LARK.  During the summer months BREWER'S and LARK SPARROW can be found regularly, while SAGE THRASHER and in recent years NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD have been fairly common here.  SAGEBRUSH SPARROW has been reported sporadically from here, usually near Lady Finger Point.  Further south where the grasslands open up there are several BURROWING OWL burrows where you can usually see these birds from March through the fall.  LONG-BILLED CURLEW are often seen in the fields here.  It's not uncommon to see waterbirds passing over the island, so cormorants, gulls, pelicans, and herons often seen while birding this area.  Feeders at the visitor center have attracted a variety of species in the winter months, including GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH and HARRIS'S SPARROW. In May 2013 a LARK BUNTING was seen on the hillside north of here. No trip to the island is complete without a drive through the loop--you will undoubtedly snag a couple of the main island targets here where photo opportunities are abound since many of the birds have become quite accustomed to the attention.

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. At the sign where the road splits if you go right you will be on the loop which comes back to this sign if you drive the whole loop.

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