In celebration of the 100th anniversary of U.S. National Parks, Saw Mill River Audubon offered an eight-day exploration of five national parks in the Southwest in mid-October. The trip cost included a donation to SMRA benefiting our local conservation and education work.
Fourteen people joined SMRA Executive Director Anne Swaim in visiting Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands and Grand Canyon National Parks as well as Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the Monument Valley Navajo Park with a dawn jeep tour.
While not the birdiest time of year for Utah and northern Arizona, we did enjoy several special bird highlights including: a Townsend’s Solitaire in Zion; Williamson’s Sapsucker, Cassin’s Finches and Pygmy Nuthatches in Bryce Canyon; singing Canyon Wrens in Capitol Reef; a beautiful Golden Eagle in Canyonlands; a Say’s Phoebe behind our hotel in Moab; and a very tame Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay at Grand Canyon, where we also caught a small part of the raptor migration through the Canyon. Roger and Michele Garrison had the additional thrill of photographing a Northern Pygmy-Owl along Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon.
The main focus of our trip was taking in the spectacularly varied shapes and colors of the southwestern landscape across the Colorado Plateau as we followed the “Grand Circle” tour from park to park, and then seeing all these geologic layers and colors come together in the stunning finale of the Grand Canyon.
Photo credits: Exploring Capitol Reef, Rose DePalma; Northern Pygmy-Owl at Grand Canyon, Roger Garrison.