My visit to Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area near Salt Lake City, Utah was kind of like those tourist t-shirts you get on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore: I went to Farmington Bay to photograph bald eagles and all I got were these coots.
The management team at the area did not perform their normal fish kill this year. It was the first year in I believe decades that they didn’t kill off the invasive carp as a method to manage the health of the water, wildlife and plants at Farmington Bay. On the years when they do the fish kill, the bald eagles come in by the hundreds to feast on the smorgasbord of fish for a few weeks in February. But this year the eagles were as perplexed as I about how to make the best of the change.
And the change was a good one - although I hope only temporary for this year.
In late November, bald eagles near Farmington Bay were turning up sick and dead. It was later determined that the eagles were dieing of west nile virus as a result of eating diseased grebes.
Since the fish kill attracts so many eagles who fight over the fish, the management team wanted to avoid the concentration of eagles and the potential for further transmitting the disease.
I knew about the decision prior to visiting but my hopes were high that I would still have a great trip. It has been a few days since I returned from Farmington Bay and now that the initial frustration has worn off about not capturing great bald eagle photos, I am feeling better about the photos I did capture of other birds in the area.
So lesson learned - stay positive, keep an open mind and enjoy the antics of American coots.