where, when, and what to find

Point of the Mountain (Utah Co.)

posted by Tim Avery at
on Friday, March 27, 2015 

Point of the Mountain from Google Street View

The Point of the Mountain in Utah County encompasses everything east of I-15 from north along the county line across the top of the Flight Park State Recreation Area to Flight Park Road on the East.and following the housing development along the east side all the way south to Cabela's.  This includes the large agricultural bowl just below the freeway.  The habitat on the mountain sides here is mostly grassland and mixed shrubsteppe, along with rocky outcroppings.  How much of the lower reaches of the area will remain birdable are open for debate.  Most of the area may very well be developed in coming years, luckily the flight park should remain for many years.

Until a couple years ago the Point of the Mountain was always a good location to see raptors, especially in the winter.  It's no surprise the birds were here--they were often seen riding the thermals off the ridges here; now used by para gliders and part of the Flight Park Recreation Area it makes sense.  The gentle rolling hills, covered in grasslands, and a huge agricultural fields created lots of opportunities for food, and birds were often seen sailing over the fields here.  In the summer SWAINSON'S HAWKS were present ad in the winter RED-TAILED HAWKS were present in decent numbers.  IT was never birded heavily until about 2011 when major construction to the south seemed to really concentrate the hawks in the bowl here during the winter of 11-12'.  The highlight were as many as 6 different HARLAN'S RED-TAILED HAWKS that could be found most days allowing for great viewing.  GOLDEN EAGLE, BALD EAGLE, NORTHERN HARRIER, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, PRAIRIE, FALCON, PEREGRINE FALCON, AMERICAN KESTREL, and MERLIN were also encountered regularly during the winter that year.  An influx of birders visited the area really helping make it a hot spot.  But by the following winter things dies back down, and the past few years it has been dismal in comparison.  The occasional RED-TAILED HAWK and GOLDEN EAGLE are still seen, but the numbers aren't what they were.  The road to the flight park is good for a few other birds though.  CHUKAR are seen along the lower stretch of the road here; while ROCK WREN can be found at various points along the route.  In the winter HORNED LARK can be found in the area, and are often around the parking area on top.  WESTERN MEADOWLARK are found year round, while WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW are present in the winter.  With more construction happening every week this area may soon be scaled back to just the flight park.  If you visit though start on the south end and stop to scan the bowl form one of the various pull offs.  Spending some time along the road up to the flight park, and lastly a little bit of time wandering around the parking area and the various roads or trails on top you might be able to put together a decent trip list.  In the winter you can sit in your car and scan the sky looking for hawks from various points.

From I-15 Exit 284 go east to the first set of lights for the Frontage Road.  Turn left and follow this 2 miles.  You are technically in the hot spot this whole time.  After you've rounded the bowl and are about to the point take the right turn onto Flight Park Road for about 200'.  Keep right and follow the road along the base of the mountain as it goes 1.3 miles up to the Flight Park Parking Area.  In general when birding here, you will bird this route up and down to cover everything well.

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