Sunday, August 27, 2006

USA August 2006

First stop was the Luxor in Las Vegas. Fossicking about on the ground outside were a number of long tailed brown birds. Mocking Birds?
On to Howard Hughes' ranch at Spring Creek. In the paddock with the horses we saw a Greater Roadrunner stalk the sparrows, pounce, catch one by the tail then bash it on the ground before scuttling off with it. Also lots of Brown Crested Flycatchers and a scarlet Tanager.
Passing over the mountains at Mountain Spring Lydia spotted what Leo identified as a Red Tailed Buzzard.
On to Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley (180 ft below sea level and 112¤F!) where there were several glossy (Greater ?) Grackles on the lawn plus some Ravens. Walking to the golf course we saw another pair of Roadrunners, Starlings roosting in the palm tree, Inca and Mourning Doves.
From the pool as dusk fell we saw some bats and then 3 Common Nighthawks with their slender wings, agile flying and the white stripe under the wings distinctive even in the gloaming.
In the morning we saw on the golf course Killdeer, Yellow Headed Blackbird, Brown-Headed Cowbird and a White-Faced Ibis, which we then saw in a flock, superb with iridescent green flashes under their wings. Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon.
At the lowest point, Badwater 282ft below and 116 F, we saw a Turkey Vulture.
Next day on to the Grand Canyon in a plane roughly the same size as that vulture! We saw a group of Elk near the airport. At Bright Angel our driver guide pointed out one of the 52 Californian Condors perched on a rock below. Also Moutain Chickadee and a female Western Tanager and a Ground Squirrel.
I went for an early morning run and saw Western Bluebirds and a Mule Deer. Leaving our cabin en famille we saw also lots of Pygmy Nuthatches, a Hairy Woodpecker and Dark-Eyed Junco. On our Rim walk we saw Least Chipmunk, Western Scrub Jay, Bush Tit, White-Throated Swift, Spotted Towhee, Black and White Warbler and several Hummingbirds.
At Jackson Hole we stayed at the Wagon Wheel village. Right outside our cabin were Yellow Headed Blackbirds and Red Winged Blackbirds. Common Grackle and Black Billed Magpie are common. At the Visitor Centre we saw Gadwall, Trumpeter Swan, American Coot, Canada Geese.
In Grand Teton we saw a glorious Osprey. We went for a walk round south shore of Jenny Lake and saw American Robin, Western Tanager, Audubon's Warbler, Rock Wren. Later a Western Gull on Jackson Lake near Sacred Heart.Late afternoon we went for a walk on Willow Flats and saw Cedar Waxwing, Cliff Swallow, Red Naped Sapsucker, Northern Flicker.On the way back we saw an American White Pelican near Oxbow then a Northern Harrier near Elk Flats.
Next morning, following a Ranger tip we saw 2 Sandhill Cranes near Flat Creek.On the way to Yellowstone we stopped at Oxbow and saw superb moose, an osprey diving right infront of us....magnificent.
On to Yellowstone proper where we saw Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle between West Thumb and Old Faithful. Subsequently Least Sandpiper and Great Blue Heron on the Madison (my favourite place in the world). Ferruginous Hawk at Canyon. White Crowned Sparrow at Fishing Bridge.Then on Swan Lake a dozen American Avocet and Ring Necked Ducks, at Sheepeater Cliffs Gray Jay.
On a float trip from Chico Spring we saw Belted Kingfisher and Kingbird.Next day in Blacktail we saw Swainson's Thrush,Mallard and Ruddy Duck, up beyond Jardine Clark's Nutcracker and Red Breasted Nuthatch, and in Lamar Valley, Mountain Bluebird, Western Wood PeeWee and a Peregrine.