Canyonlands Trip - September 2011 Images:

Updated: Saturday October 08, 2011

In September 2011 my wife and I took an old fashioned "driving vacation" out to the Canyonlands of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. We visited Indian ruins and the breathtaking scenery of the many National Parks and National Monuments concentrated in this geographic area. Several State Parks were also included, along with a few specialty locations highlighted below.

Throughout the trip we were on the lookout for interesting plants and animals. A sampling of these is shown below. Any help with the IDs of the plants will be greatly appreciated!

Erik Breden
Harlingen, Texas

Plants and "Critters" Seen During the Trip:

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At the Grand Canyon we saw small family groups of Western Bluebirds. They would perch conspicuously and suddenly dive down to the ground to catch an insect.
The resident Chickadee in the mountains and foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin is the Mountain Chickadee. Here, one is responding to my "spishing" by flying closer to see what all the "fuss" is about...
...and here is the close-up portrait of the bird from above.
A special treat was a small flock of Red Crossbills which were moving through the pine trees near the eastern end of Grand Canyon National Park. Here, a motley plumaged male pauses to show the unique bill which gives this species its name. This bird is the stricklandi subspecies found in the southwest, which is the largest of the various subspecies. At least six are recognized, which some authorities feel may be separate species.
The male from above was joined by two juveniles, distinguished by their streaked breasts.
The most surprising bird of the trip was this juvenile Sabine's Gull, which was standing in the middle of the La Sal Manti Scenic Loop Road in the La Sal mountains southeast of Moab, Utah. Sabine's Gulls are long distance migrants from the Arctic which usually don't touch down in the lower 48 states...
...this one was apparently grounded by a thunderstorm rolling over the mountains from the southeast. When we first saw the bird standing in the middle of a mountain road, we were surprised. But then it flew away at the approach of our car, circled around behind us, and landed in the road again! Here we have turned around and are stalking the bird using the car as a a blind. It flew away again up the road and around a curve, never to be seen again.
Pinyon Jay has been a "nemesis" bird for me. I saw one bird in my early days of birding, but did not get a picture of it. This one was part of a foraging flock at Grand Canyon Village which stopped long enough for me to take a few shots. It was 31 years between my first sighting and this one! We did see several flocks during the trip near Moab, Utah and at the Grand Canyon, however, so maybe the jinx has been broken...



Reptiles and Amphibians




Plants, Bushes, Trees, etc.


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