This past week I have spent a lot of time in the great outdoors – something I love to do! Saturday was the Outdoor Expo at Watson Lake Park sponsored by the City of Prescott. I led a bird walk in the morning and taught a class on beginning birding in the afternoon. Ironically, as I was teaching the class, a greater roadrunner walked right by – I couldn’t have scripted it any better.
The bird walk was productive, especially in terms of birds of prey. We saw osprey, red-tailed hawk, common blackhawk, merlin and northern harrier! Later, while birding on my own, I found the black-bellied whistling duck which is now hanging out in the extreme southwestern portion of Watson Lake.
On Monday of this week, our family enjoyed a full day raft trip on the Colorado River. Our guide extraordinaire was Brad Newman, of Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI) fame. October is such a great month to be on the river with cool mornings, balmy mid-day temperatures, no wind at all, beautiful cloud formations-it was just a perfect day!
Spending time with Brad on the river was both entertaining and educational. I was impressed with Brad’s skill as a boatman, and also his historical knowledge of the Glen Canyon Dam National Recreation Area, the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, the geology of the area and its ancient inhabitants.
Brad’s “real” job is executive director of YEI, but his other job is a boatman for Colorado River Discovery. I had never done a river trip, and Brad’s invitation to have a personally guided tour down the river was too good to pass up. If you haven’t done a rafting trip on the Colorado you need to add it to your “bucket list.” Check out the website for Colorado River Discovery at www.rafttheriver.com.
Of course, my motivation to do this trip was to go birding. I am still actively working on my 2012 state list as part of the Centennial Challenge. I have been stuck at 212 species since my hike up Humphrey’s Peak in late August.
Our raft trip started at the base of the Glen Canyon Dam, and we floated down river 16 miles and disembarked at Lee’s Ferry. Having never been along this stretch of the Colorado, I didn’t really know what to anticipate in the way of birds. As it turned out it really wasn’t a very “birdy” day, but in the end it wasn’t about the birds, it was about the river and the canyon.
The birds I saw were, for the most part, fairly common birds that you would likely encounter right here in Prescott. But seeing them in the canyon added to the richness of the experience. A few examples of water birds I saw include double-crested cormorants, great blue herons, black-crowned night heron, mallards, coots, common mergansers, ring-necked ducks, and both Western and pied-billed grebes. In the vegetation and in the rocks there were common ravens, song sparrows, Say’s phoebe, canyon and rock wrens, and even a loggerhead shrike.
I did not add a single new bird to my state list – and it didn’t matter, as it was still a great day.
A quick reminder as part of our anniversary celebration and fall seed sale, the wild bird photo contest exhibit is open for public viewing every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. except for Sundays. I invite you to come in and vote for your favorite pictures. The deadline for voting is Monday, Oct. 22.