Date: 9/27/17 4:14 am From: Barbara Volkle <barb620...> Subject: [MASSBIRD] Birding Zion & Grand Canyon
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2017 04:46:05 +0000 (UTC) From: Strickland Wheelock <skwheelock...> Subject: Birding Zion & Grand Canyon
One of the many inspiring birding trips Drumlin Farm WS has sponsored, the recent trip (9/20 -26) to Zion & the Grand Canyon has to be one of the best. The combination of many desert bird species, stunning stunning scenery, great mammals made this trip extra special.
Our trip started in Las Vegas arriving early afternoon on the 20th. Our first stop was Floyd Lamb Park and 1st bird seen when we parked was a Roadrunner - how appropriate as we try to introduce the participants to these desert species. The Park was very active with many Ravens, Gt-tailed Grackles, Wht-cr Sparrows, Lesser Goldfinches, Flickers, Eurasian Collared Doves, Gambel's Quail, Anna's & Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Western Wood-Pewees, Abert's Towhees. In addition, other interesting finds were Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Gray Flycatcher, MacGillivray's Warbler, Say's Phoebe, Ash-thr. Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Verdin, Am. Kestels. Always a highlight are the Burrowing Owls that resided nearby in an undeveloped lot.
Day 2. This day was our most challenging with blasting winds up to 50 to 60 MPH keeping many of our target species buried in the undergrowth - not surprisingly our lodging that night was in the town of Hurricane. Our birding locations this day were Corn Creek and Mt Charlestown - some of the interesting birds found were Blk-tailed Gnatcatchers, Rufous & Anna's Hummingbirds, Violet-green Swallows, Western Tanager, Western Meadowlarks, Orange-cr Warblers, Lark & Vesper Sparrows, Juncos (Gray-headed), Brewer's Blackbirds, Phainopepla, Lesser Goldfinch, Verdin, N. Harrier, Cooper's & Sharp-shinned Hawks, Am. Kestrel=C2=A0
Day 3. Back to beautiful weather as we headed out early in the morning to Zion National Park - little did know what a day this was going to be. As we drove in the darkness, a pair of Gt Horned Owls were teed up on a wire for excellent looks. Our 1st stop in Zion was Lava Point hoping to catch Calif. Condors soaring by - at first, just many Turkey Vultures, White-thr Swifts, Ravens, a few Red-tailed Hawks. We took a break at the nearby campground and found many exciting birds starting with close up looks at a Dusky Grouse ( a target bird), Steller's Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Cassin's Vireo, Mountain Chickadees, Brown Creeper, etc As we drove out we spotted a Western Red-tailed Hawk sitting on a dead tree and as we looked at this bird we spotted a soaring Calif. Condor - definitely our main target bird on this trip. As we continued we found a field of Mountain Bluebirds - so beautiful. As we moved along, Western Bluebirds began to appear everywhere. We stopped at another lookout and discovered a Golden Eagle teed up on the peak of a rock formation - around us in the pines a variety of species started to appear like Juniper Jays and Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays, Red-breasted Nuthatches, etc As we later approached a field we spotted a dead cow in the middle being devoured by vultures & Ravens. We quickly pulled over when 2 Calif Condors suddenly surprised us by lifting off and flying broadside to us only a short distance away - chance to see close up all the field points in the wild - blew us away We descended to the Visitors Center to take the shuttle service to the last stop along the Virgin River. Our target bird did not fail us as a Dipper was doing it's thing in the rapids - what an unique bird Let me tell you the stunning stunning beauty of Zion was my highlight non-bird experience with the maze of narrow deep sandstone canyons and striking rock towers, high plateaus, etc etc - for me, more impressive than the Grand Canyon which is very impressive to start with. On our drive to Hurricane we found fields with many variety of sparrows like Brewer's, Wht-crowned, Clay-colored, Chipping and Vesper. In some of the fields we encountered bugling Elk males mixed in herds of elk, many Mule Deer and a herd of Desert Big-horned Sheep close up - no shortage of excitement this day.
Day 4 Our early morning start was to a well maintained ghost town with cemetery called Grafton - old buildings, equipment, Log Houses churches located in a flood plain along the Virgin River.=C2=A0 The birds were in no short supply with male & female Vermillion Flycatchers, Canyon Wrens, Osprey, Black & Say's Phoebes, Lesser Goldfinches, Western Bluebirds, Summer Tanagers plus many Jays, sparrows and more to keep us busy - possible Virginia's Warbler and Lewis's Woodpecker -were seen Another short stop was at Jackson Flats Reservoir where we picked up a Yellow-headed Blackbird, pair of Ring-necked Ducks, Redheads, Ruddy Ducks, several Pied-billed & Eared Grebes, 3 Western Grebes, hundreds of Coots, Western Sandpiper, etcWe arrived in late afternoon at Jacob's Lodge for our lodging as we prepared for the Grand Canyon the following day. Right next to the dining room table where we ate our meals was a fountain with pools of water - flocks of Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins, Cassin's Finches plus some Pygmy & Red-breasted & White- breasted Nuthatches, Steller's Jays would drink and bath yards away - hard to eat your meal. Other interesting birds found near the lodge were a pair of Virginia Warblers, Mountain Chickadees, Spotted Towhee, Saw-whet Owl - the coolest mammal was the Kaibab Squirrel with it's white tail on a black body & ear tuffs
Day 5 Our day was spent visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon - an early stop at a campground produced a Willliamson's Sapsucker, Am. Pipits and many Brewer's Sparrows - once in the magnificent park and viewing the massive canyons, we stopped for lunch at the visitors center and ate outside. From the porch, we had many vultures & Ravens, some Red-tails, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks but the highlight were 2 Goshawks soaring over. Later that afternoon we had another pair of Goshawks fly relatively close by - a highlight During our birding near the visitors center we also had Townsend's Solitaire, Canyon Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a Lewis's Woodpecker. We then drove to Cape Royal lookout and as we parked the car there were 7 Lewis's Woodpeckers crowded on a dead tree, Clark's Nutcrackers everywhere, and bird life all around us. - a Sage Thrasher, Plain Titmouse, Bushtit, Spotted & Green-tailed Towhees, Mountain Chickadees and on & on=C2=A0 - night back at Jacob's Lodge
Day 6. Our first birding was at the Vermillion Cliffs hoping for more Condors - from the viewing area scanning the top of the cliffs, there were several condors soaring and perched -- being dived bombed by Ravens - a chance to compare how huge the condors are to the Ravens. At this site we had a Western Kingbird, Say's Phoebes, Vesper Sparrows in addition to the Condors. On our way back to Las Vegas we stopped at Quail Creek SP to view the reservoir for waterfowl - birds seen were Californian Gulls, Common Mergansers, both Clark & Western Grebes, Pied-billed. & Eared Grebes, Coot, Ruddy Ducks - also a Roadrunner That night we visited the Strip for dinner and limited gambling although the water shows and night life we encountered was a little different than the previous evenings on this trip.
Day 7.=C2=A0 Our final birding adventure was to the Henderson Wetland Preserve - a short stay due to departure schedules but encountered an amazing number of birds to sort through - Blk-necked Stilts, Am Avocets, Wilson Snipe, Belted Kingfisher, Cinnamon & Green-winged Teal, Gadwalls, N. Shovelers, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Ducks, Redheads, Verdin, Crissal Thrasher, House & Marsh Wrens, Peregrine Falcon, Cooper's Hawk, Wht-faced Ibis, Greater Yellowlegs, Common Gallinule, Gambel's Quail, Costa's Hummingbird, many Yellow-rumped & Orange-crowned Warblers to name a=C2=A0 few - an amazing birding location right in the city limits
Final tally was 135 species, amazing scenery and mammals=C2=A0which all add= s up to an outstanding week of discovery for all.