Pacific Wren

Pacific Wren
Pacific Wren

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Kaibab Plateau, the Final Day

Saturday night the winds had calmed down, but that also brought lower temperatures (down into the 30's) that night.  But with the proper equipment, camping in the cold is not all that bad and sleep was fairly easy on this second night.  This was going to be our last day of the expedition, but with a long 6 hour return drive looming on the horizon, many of us decided to make it a short day.  The entire group stopped near the entrance of our turn off to our camp site to check for a few birds in the area where we had seen the Downy Woodpeckers the night before.  This morning they were there to greet us again along with some Williamson's Sapsuckers and some Evening Grosbeaks, which was a new bird for me.  Although my photos left a lot to be desired, at least I got to see and hear them for the first time.  (Guess that means I will have to back again for better photos!)

Williamson's Sapsucker - Male


Williamson's Sapsucker - Male

Evening Grosbeak

The entire group decided to head into the Grand Canyon National Park on this morning and visiting the North Rim is much different than the South Rim.  Due to the remoteness of the North Rim, it only gets about one tenth the number of visitors on a yearly basis, but the road is also closed to the North Rim in the winter months due to snow.  The views from the the North Rim were just as awesome.



At the lodge at the North Rim, we found some cool birds as well, including a pair of Western Bluebirds that were feeding young.  We also had a Virginia's Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warblers, and 'Audubon's' Yellow-rumper Warblers.

  Western Bluebird - Male

Virginia's Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler


'Audubon's' Yellow-rumped Warbler

We also found Steller's Jays which are gorgeous birds, but we got to see a different side of them as one had stolen a newly hatched junco chick from a nest and was feeding on it.  Probably not a photo that many want to see, but it also shows nature in the raw.

Steller's Jay

Had some great mammals as well along the road.  There is a herd of bison found inside the park.  The park calls them bison, but truth be told they should probably be called 'beefalo' as they are remnants of a ranching operation from years back of a rancher that was crossing bison with cattle as an experimental ranching idea.  They animals do look quite a bit like bison, but not sure how purebred bison they really are.  




Probably the most interesting mammal that we discovered was a Porcupine along side of the road as we were leaving.  Got to see 2 of these animals when we were in New Mexico in February of this year, but both were sleeping in trees; this one was actively grazing along side of the highway.

Porcupine


Porcupine

What a way to end an exhilarating field expedition!  And I have to add a group photo of the 9 campers that journeyed to the North Rim.  Want to thank a great group of people that made this an exciting and enjoyable experience;  Eric Hough, Magill Weber, Chris Rohrer, Lauren Harter, Nathan Williams, Brian Ison, Michael Lester, and Jarrod Swackhamer. 












4 comments:

  1. Neat post Gordon!

    I've enjoyed reading your posts from this trip. Congrats on getting the Evening Grosbeak and a good picture of it too. I think it's a good photo!

    I really like the two Williamson's Sapsucker photos that you took. Very awesome! That is one of my favorite birds and I would have loved to see an abundant number of them like you guys did on the trip.

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    1. Thanks Tommy! It was an enjoyable adventure and now that I know more about the area up there, I want to go back and look for others that we missed. Be a great place to stop off on the trip to the Ruby Mts!

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  2. Really sweet pics Gordon! This was such a great trip and I really loved our team. I would do that again in a heart beat. This is probably strange to say, but I was looking forward to seeing that gross shot of the Stellar's feeding on the Junco. It turned out really cool. Since we started to observe nesting in June, I have been in shock with the mobs of crows and jays going after warbler, gnatcatcher, and other bird's nest. AND if the little buggers don't work together! We know this about them but to observe it happening is something entirely different. Kathie, Micheal and I watched as 3 Crows sat in a tree with their bodies out silently watching the other birds go in and out from their nests. We had to watch where we were going because the crows were watching where we were looking. One of the crows went after the Orchard Oriole's nest and got one of the babies! I am still in shock over the whole thing. Red-wings, Crows, Baltimore, Orchard and other warblers got in the action and mobbed the crow out of the nest. It has been a very educational summer for me on nesting. The Canyon was a great way to start off the fun.

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    1. Puts a whole new spin on the corvids, doesn't it? Makes one look at them in a different light. But they also become prey to some of the raptors, as I have also witnessed.

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