Thursday, 14 August 2014

Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon

Having finished up at the Salton Sea, my next mission was to drive for the majority of the day from there to Las Vegas, where Karen would be arriving. The next couple of weeks would be a bird friendly 'non-birding' holiday. Sort of.

So first place on the agenda was Flagstaff; a really pleasant town set up in the pine forests and away from the desert heat. As well as attracting tourists as it's on Route 66, the place is also pretty close to the Grand Canyon - one of those places you must see. Anyway, to the birds - around Flagstaff casual birding produced stuff like Western Tanager, Hairy Woodpecker, Dark-eyed (red-backed) Junco, Mountain Chickadee and Acorn Woodpeckers. Also, with a bit of perseverence I was able to track down a group of Pinyon Jays, a species I'd not seen previously.
Pinyon Jay, Flagstaff
A single Green-tailed Towhee was seen under the chairlift at the Arizona Snowbowl, while at the Grand Canyon (which was pretty birdless to be honest) Western Scrub Jay and a single Black-chinned Sparrow were the highlights.
Dark-eyed Junco, Flagstaff - ssp. dorsalis ("Red-backed Junco")
A bit of target birding always does the trick though. And through research - mainly using Ebird - I'd picked up on a spot for Grey Vireo in an area of junipers to the south of the East Entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park. With some patience and persuasion, I eventually tracked one down - Warbling Vireos and Blue-Grey Gnatcatchers, along with a single Grey Flycatchers and Black-throated Grey Warblers, provided some backup too.

The next three days I spent surviving Las Vegas. An absolutely putrid place, full of the most vacuous and distasteful people on the planet. Not somewhere I think I'd ever enjoy, but for the sake of the holiday somewhere I endured. Completely birdless too, except for the odd Great-tailed Grackle. Time to fly east...

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