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A Report from

The U.S South-west  -  Birding the Kokopelli trail,

Andy Benson

After two previous visits to Florida on family holidays, and with all members firmly hooked on the States,  I  proposed  a trip to the western states that had to include the Grand Canyon.  After much debating and Brussels-like wrangling we eventually came up with a three week tour,  from mid May to early June, that would hopefully cater for all family members:- birder M 36 main driver /navigator, non-birder F 36 main shopper/sunbather and non-birder juv. M 12 main pool attendant / gameboy player.  The trip turned out to be very rewarding for me being the birder, and my family's tolerance for my morning disappearing acts and braking at speed for overhead raptors played no small part, and to them I am truly grateful.  Kokopelli was an ancient Native American spirit who was infamous for his happy go lucky partying attitude, flute playing, and habit of getting the most unfertile women pregnant with just a twinkle of his eye!  His image of a crooked back man playing a flute with waves of vertical hair is everywhere and on everything!  He's like Mickey Mouse of the desert!

Our trip took in four states - Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California and we travelled over 2,700 miles by car in our three weeks from May 19th to June 8th.  The weather was unsurprisingly warm and dry, though the canyons could be fairly cool during the morning and we did encounter about ˝ hour of rain when in Northern Arizona. The trip was planned as follows-

May 20th- 22nd- arrive Las Vegas, Nevada with two nights to shake off the jet lag.
May 22nd-24th - Zion National Park, Utah
May 24th - 26th - Bryce National Park, Utah
May 26th -28th - Grand Canyon North Rim, Arizona
May 28th - 30th - Page, Arizona
May 30th - June 3rd - Las Vegas, Nevada
June 3rd- June 4th - Death Valley, California
June 4th - June 7th - Eastern Sierra Nevada, California
June 7th- June 8th - Las Vegas  depart.

Prior to the visit I accumulated all site details and birding information exclusively from the web.  This was mainly due to the excellent, surely one of the best birding resources currently available on the net.  I also referred to the few trip reports that I could find, and the National Parks web site for various bird lists.  I found the Sibley guide to Western birds invaluable, especially the habitat preference on each species, a great help for finding birds on unplanned stops!  All our accommodation was pre-booked, with the North Rim resort booked a year in advance!  We flew with ever reliable Virgin Atlantic.


May 20th-21st   arrive in Vegas and pick up our vehicle, a Dodge grand caravan, and head straight down the Strip to our hotel!  Being 10 lanes in some places, I was glad to be relieved of the car by the valet at our hotel, The Luxor.    We find the lobby very impressive, huge, and complete with House sparrows that probably never see the light of day.  Tiredness has well and truly set in, though a tour around the pool area gives me my first trip tick, a Great tailed Grackle. The rest of the evening and following day are spent trying to get over the jet lag, as well as taking in the sights and sounds of this noisy, neon city.  

May22nd      Depart from Vegas heading north on Inter 15 with Zion National Park being our ultimate destination.  The journey was frustrating, with vast expanses of arid desert with small birds occasionally flitting over the interstate, unidentified.  After 100 miles we reach the town of StGeorge, which also happened to be my first designated birding stop.  We found the Red Hills Golf-course with ease after being sent some first class directions by local birder Lee Jones. Even better was the fact that after telling Lee I hoped to be here this morning, he was waiting for me in the car park having spent the past couple of hours stalking my prey! We walked along the cart track and the place was more like an aviary than a golf course -there were birds everywhere and most of them new! Black Phoebe, Western Kingbirds and Black headed grosbeaks appeared almost tame; a Wilsons Warbler sat in a mesquite tree quickly being replaced by a Warbling VireoBrown headed Cowbirds and American Robins were on the greens with handsome White throated Swifts and Violet -green Swallows zooming around the cliffs.  Then my target bird popped up right on cue, a stunning male Vermillion Flycatcher feeding from a bare branch for a few moments before flying across the golf-course and being joined in flight by a second adult male!  As I walked back to the car a Bullocks Oriole was seen, and sitting on the telegraph wire over the car-lot, was another hoped for bird my first hummer -a Black chinned Hummingbird.   We continued towards Zion after a short stop to see the dinosaur tracks on the east side of town and saw Turkey Vulture, Red tailed hawk and Great blue Heron en route.   We arrived at Springdale, the small town at the mouth of Zion, around mid afternoon and found our accommodation at Desert Pearl Inn to be very well positioned on the banks of the Virgin River.  Here there were Black chinned Hummers zipping around just above the water with Western Tangers, House Finches and a Phainopepla in the trees along side several Lesser Goldfinches.

May 23rd   Awoke early to get an hours birding in before breakfast and went down to Springdale Pond located behind the Switchback Hotel.  The pond held plenty of Black Pheobes and Northern Roughwings but nothing else, however just beyond the pond a wooded scrub area faired better with a family of Black capped Chickadees, Bushtit, Ash throated Flycatchers a fine singing M. Blue Grosbeak and a pair of Summer Tanagers.  After breakfast we took the shuttle bus up into the valley (the only vehicle transport allowed) and spent the morning walking and enjoying the fantastic scenery adding House Wren, Yellow Warbler and my only sighting of a Canyon Wren.  Mid afternoon was pool time, from which I was excused, so I headed up the Kolob Road which is approx 15 miles west of Springdale. I was looking for Black chinned sparrow and Grey Vireo but I miss-read the directions and was looking in the wrong type of habitat (these species like scrubby chaparral hillsides).  I drove as far as Blue Springs Reservoir ( about 25 miles) where there were Brewers Blackbirds, Tree Swallow, 3 pairs of Ruddy Duck , pair Canada Geese and several American Coot, also along the route were Western Meadowlark and my only Lazuli Bunting of the trip with a Clarks Nutcracker on the side of the road in the ponderosa pine belt.  On the way back a Sharp shinned Hawk shot across the road but little else was seen.

May 24th   Keen to get up to the Riverside walk from The Temple of Sinawava at Zion before we left the area later today, it was suggested that I go first thing while ♀ and juv have a lie in and chill out at breakfast time, result!  I found my self on the first shuttle bus into the valley, and after seeing some Wild Turkey and Mule Deer on the Zion Lodge lawn, was the only one walking up towards the well known Narrows.  As I walked to the rivers edge another target bird appeared, American Dipper.  I continued to where a weeping wall in the cliff-side stood, water continually seeping from the rock, as a bird was singing from higher up the cliff.  With the song being 'thrown' around in the steep sided canyon I found it extremely difficult to locate but eventually pinned it down; singing from a tiny tree sticking out from the cliff was a sparkling M Painted Redstart!  I had heard that this vagrant had returned from last year but did not expect to see it so it was a real bonus.  I searched the cliff faces for Common Black Hawk that are occasionally sighted here but with no luck, a couple more dippers were seen along with more Black headed grosbeaks, Yellow Warblers and singing Song Sparrow.  We left Springdale mid morning to travel north east to Bryce Canyon, with an unscheduled stop for an unprovoked nose bleed resulting in a Chipping Sparrow on the road-side!  We continued on our route with brief  glimpses of a Mountain Bluebird not far out of Zion, a Spotted sandpiper flying over the road just north of Mount Carmel Junction and a couple of American Magpies between the later and Hatch.  On our arrival to Bryce we decided to find our accommodation which was in Tropic, about 7 miles further, but found to our dismay that the Bryce Valley Inn cabins which we booked from photos on the net bore little resemblance to their online counterparts (although the photos did look like the set of cabins up the road belonging to a different company!). Situated between a building site and a disused post office, we tried to find alternative digs with no success, so we were resolved to the fact that we would have to stay but spend as little time here as possible!  In the evening we booked dinner at the Bryce Canyon Lodge inside the park and had excellent views of some Pronghorn antelope at dusk.

May 25th   A wander down Tropic main road not long after dawn produced a Say's Pheobe feeding young and an American Goldfinch with a couple of House Finches being attracted to a small roadside fountain with more Bullock's Orioles, Western Tanagers and yellow warblers in the gardens.  We headed up through Bryce to the lodge again, this time to book a horse ride down into the canyon.  The edges of the car lot was alive with chipmunks also Western Bluebirds a nice White breasted Nuthatch and several Pygmy Nuthatch.  We visited several of the truly stunning view points in the park with its red hoodoo spires and postcard arches and also walked the Bristle Cone Pine Loop.  Scattered amongst some of the oldest living organisms were Audubon's Warblers, Red breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadees and a couple of nesting Hermit Thrushes, the car lot held some large very tame Raven.  An enjoyable afternoon was spent riding down into the canyon on horses/ mules and was a big hit with all the family and on our return the car lot scored once again with Red Crossbill and first sightings of Dark eyed Junco and Cassin's Finch.  In the evening a Spotted Tohwee was found singing in Tropic.

May 26th     Drove back south through Utah and into Arizona on to the Grand Canyon National Park.  We had chosen to stay at the North Rim lodge (the only accommodation on the rim on this side) and had chosen a cabin for the 2 night stay.   The Canyon lives up to all the superlatives thrown at it, and photo opportunities are endless.  The birds here are secondary but I saw with ease Steller's Jay, many Audubon's warblers, Western Tanager, White throated Swift, Mountain Chickadee, Dark eyed Juncos, and lots of Violet green Swallows.

May 27th   Another pre-breakfast jaunt but this time I was hoping to see a mammal rather than a bird, the endemic Kaibab Squirrel.  I drove to the Widfoss Trail a few miles north along the main road.  The trail was mostly rocky hillside with quite dense Ponderosa Pine.  In the empty car lot were several Dark eyed Juncos, a pair of Chipping Sparrows and a confiding Pine Siskin feeding on the ground. I walked for an hour along the trail but bird and squirrel life was notable for its absence with time wasted on tracking down singing Warbling Vireo.  As I returned to the car lot a movement at the edge of the trees caught my eye, and there virtually sitting next to my car was a smoky grey white trimmed Kaibab Squirrel that disappeared in an instant.  I continued further north along the road to a picnic pull-in adjacent to a small brown square marker with No. 4 on it.   This was purely a hit or miss stop, but there was a tiny ditch at the edge of an unpaved road just a couple of yards south of the picnic site, this ditch appeared to be an absolute magnet for birds to drink and bath.   Fairly soon I was watching a pair of  Williamsons Sapsuckers and Evening Grosbeaks at close quarters along with lots of Audubons warblers , White headed Nuthatch, Red breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker more Pine Siskins  and a Mountain Chickadee.  A Ruby crowned Kinglet appeared with a Townsend Solitaire just yards away and more Dark eyed Juncos and Western Tanagers showed along with a couple of Hermit Thrushes.  Time was getting on though so I had to drag myself away vowing to comeback with the camcorder!  Later in the morning we drove up to Cape Royal and Point Imperial for more spectacular views and photo taking.  Cape Royal provided more ticks with 2-3 handsome Black throated grey Warblers singing from the Pinyon Pines and in the car lot near the toilet block a Rock Wren was carrying food no doubt for expectant young.  Also here were Townsend Solitaire, Spotted Towhee and more Audubon's.  We returned to the North Rim lodge to relax on the patio with a couple of beers and just take in the atmosphere, watching the reaction of new arrivals to their first sight of the canyon.  I was listening to the Park Rangers talk on the history of the Californian Condor and hoping that I may be lucky at the release site which we planned to visit tomorrow.  As he was finishing his talk a huge shadow ran across the patio, and there as if on cue, an immature Californian Condor drifted over! 20 minutes later it appeared soaring over the canyon and gave great views (including the no. 4 wing tags) as it slowly circled down and into the canyon itself - a fantastic sight!

May 28th - Went to the picnic site again first thing and got some great footage of all the birds I saw yesterday plus a very close encounter with a Mule Deer.  We left the North Rim and headed north east to Page, only bird of note being a Horned Lark on the side of the road at the Vermillion Cliffs and another Rock Wren at the Navajo Bridge.

 Female Evening Grosbeak with a Pine Siskin

May 29th - We had arranged to take a trip down the Colorado River from Glen Dam, where we boarded some large inflatable 'float boats'. Initially I was in two minds whether to take bins but was glad that I did.  In the slow flowing waters under the dam were Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Pied billed Grebe and a lone female Lesser Scaup.  Further along Canyon Wrens were heard on several occasions with a Blue Grosbeak singing, a pair of Peregrine and a distant Osprey.  About half way along we stopped at a small beach to view some petroglyphs where by chance high above on the cliff face a pair of Golden Eagle had a nest and were very active running a gauntlet of Ravens.  Finally arriving at historical Lees Ferry we boarded a coach to return us to Page where another Rock Wren was seen, this time from the MacDonald's drive in!

May 30th - We were heading back to Las Vegas today, some 250 miles.  We stopped at Pipe Springs National Monument for a leg stretch and saw Western Kingbird, House Finch and the only Lark Sparrow of the trip.  As we entered St. George non birder♀ suggested a milkshake break at Red hills Golf course! Within minutes I was once again enjoying the delightful Vermillion Flycatchers and also added Red Winged Blackbird, Cliff Swallow and Olive sided Flycatcher.  Our arrival back to Vegas came as some what of a shock, it was Memorial weekend and the place was absolutely heaving - if you do not like crowds do not come to Vegas on memorial weekend!

 May 31st - Today was my designated 'birding' day.  I had initially planned to visit Corn Creek, a small desert oasis about 35 miles NW of Vegas, but because of a lack of certain target species I opted for the longer drive back in to Utah to visit the Lytle Ranch.  I left the hotel at 0500 and drove north on the I15 again for about 95miles to Littlefield where I took the SR91 to Santa Clara.  The turning for the ranch is approx 8 miles of this road on the left hand side and has a sign saying 'Cottonwood Game Ranch', the road is unpaved but in good condition which is just as well because the reserve is about 12 miles further on this road!  The rolling hills covered in Joshua Trees soon revealed more typical desert birds with first sightings of Gambel's Quail, handsome Black throated Sparrows, a pair of Scott's Oriole's and a Ladder backed Woodpecker.  As I finally reached the ranch (it was now 0830) my worst fear faced me - a 'closed' sign! Being in the middle of nowhere with no apparent human life I hopped over the fence shortly before coming face to face with my second worst fear - large unfriendly looking dog! Needless to say I very soon hopped back again! I wandered around the Mesquite scrub outside the reserve area and soon picked up Verdin, Lucy's Warbler and a Black Tailed Gnatcatcher with plenty of Phainopepla

and Ash throated Flycatchers.  I met a couple of American birders who were most helpful and as we searched for an owl I had flushed they picked up a fabulous Common Black Hawk that was drifting down the valley.  I continued to search around the river bed area and scrub seeing many Bewick's Wrens and Black Pheobes, a vireo that remains unidentified, and a few more Lucy's Warblers but no sign of any Roadrunners, 3 of which were here yesterday. I drove back slowly, stopping occasionally to scan the hills, seeing more Ash throated Fly's, Loggerhead Shrike and Ladder backs, when a large bird flew across the road and on to a Joshua tree, I was soon scoping a cracking pair of Cactus Wrens hunting for spiders in between the trees prickles, another  was seen a little further on. Returning to SR 91 I turned left towards Shivwits and after about 5 miles another unpaved road leads west up into the hills ( there is a cattle grid to drive over). These hills are covered in the distinctly scruffy looking chaparral habitat. Fairly soon I had been able to locate a couple of Gray Vireos singing loudly from the top of some sage brush, and after tracking singing Spotted Towhees, Black throated grey Warblers, Black throated Sparrows and Western Scrub Jays I finally managed to pin down a pair of Black chinned Sparrows feeding quietly at ground level looking much more dapper than they do in the books.  On the way back to Vegas I stopped at Glendale for some gas and found a colony of Cliff Swallows under the I15 and a Roadrun-over, its tail feathers being a memento of a bird not seen yet!

Views from the track to Lytle Ranch

June 1st - A tourist day today with a visit to the Hoover Dam and a trip to the shopping mall, managed to not bird all day today.

June 2nd -  The family wanted to go to the pool this morning so I volunteered to go and do the grocery run with a view to take in a small reserve on the east side of Las Vegas.  Having got my clearance I headed for the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, a compound of disused sewage ponds on the edge of town beside the desert.  This is an excellent little reserve run by a small but dedicated team with superb facilities.  The ponds were alive with birds with the trips first Killdeer, lots of Red wing BB, Ruddy Duck, A. Coot, Black necked Stilts and Black necked Grebes. Also on the varied waters were my first Cinnamon Teal, Redhead, American Avocet and White faced Ibis all giving very good views. Two specialities here were seen quite easily were Abert's Towhee and the comical Crissal Thrasher (6 of these!) both seen along the perimeter pathway- the Roadrunners hadn't been seen for a couple of weeks!  Where the ponds had reedy edges I finally managed to see my first Common Yellowthroat singing and several Yellow headed Blackbirds.  Having missed Marsh Wren on my first circuit one of the wardens kindly chauffeured me round in their golfing buggy to a favoured site and within minutes Marsh Wren was safely secured.  We spent the rest of the afternoon around the pool before going out to celebrate juv's birthday with a limo ride and dinner in Planet Hollywood at Ceasar's Palace.

June3rd - Headed out west towards California, with Death Valley being our destination.  We detoured on route to Ash Meadows Wildlife Preserve and found the delightful Crystal Reservoir the ideal leg stretch stop.  At first appearing life less a scan across the water produced several American Coot and Ruddy Duck, a Pied billed Grebe, my first Western Grebe and a bonus first summer Franklin's Gull.  We crossed the Californian border and headed down into Death Valley and finally arrived at the Furness Creek Ranch which was to be our accommodation for the night and spent the rest of the afternoon around the spring fed pool (a constant 83° F!) and enjoying the 124° heat!  I went back to the room briefly to grab some fluids, when there, virtually on our door step, was a Greater Road runner as bold as brass!  We later saw it devouring a House sparrow that it had caught. A look around the golf course (definitely around, it because unless your playing golf you're certainly NOT encouraged to go on it!) produced more Ravens, G-t-Grackles, Verdin, Say's Pheobe and a brief Eurasian Collard Dove.  In the evening a flock of White faced Ibis were seen flying to roost and at least one pair of Lesser Nighthawks were seen patrolling the golf course.

June 4th - A quick pre-breakfast amble around the resort produced much the same as yesterday with the addition of a Snowy Egret and several little Inca Doves on the main lawn beside the swimming pool.  Also a rather hungry looking Coyote looked like he was returning from a night on the town!  We left Furnace Creek around 0830, and for some unknown reason the whole family liked it here, probably because it was so hot that the only thing you can really do is relax, and headed north, seeing a couple of Horned Larks near Stove Pipe Well.  As we reached the SR 395 the dramatic Sierra Nevada lay before us providing a dramatic back drop to the journey and by the time we reached Big Pine the first Californian Gulls had started to appear.  We finally arrived at our penultimate destination June Lakes, around mid -afternoon and I admit that I was instantly smitten with the place!  With almost Scotland like scenery but, being in America, on a much grander scale, the snow capped mountains provided distant waterfalls with picture postcard views.  We had booked in to an A frame cabin with mountains at the bottom of the garden! Brewers Blackbirds were common place along with Oregon type Dark eyed Junco's (very handsome), Warbling Vireos and my first Green Tailed Towhee.  A quick amble up a nearby trail produced Cassin's Finch, Red tailed Hawk and some confiding Fox Sparrows plus an adult Bald Eagle soaring over the mountain tops.

Green tailed Towhee

View from Fern Lake hiking trail, June Lake

A lengthy night vigil did not result in either bears or owls.

June 5th - We were heading to Yosemite today, some 70 miles from June Lakes via the Tioga Pass.  After being on the road for only 10 mins we came to an unscheduled stop at Grant Lake where some White Pelicans were feeding.  The journey was long but extremely picturesque, though I found it very frustrating to have to drive through some excellent habitat with out being able to stop.  Yosemite Valley was something of a double edged sword, its beauty only marred by the shear number of people who were also here to admire it. As we headed towards the water fall I had a quick succession of new birds, a White headed Woodpecker flew across the road, an Acorn Woodpecker was feeding in the same tree as a Cassin's Vireo and above the Violet green Swallow's wheeling around the water falls at least three hoped for Black Swifts could be seen.  Where ever there was food being served both Brewers Blackbirds and Red winged Blackbirds were in attendance. By lunch time the crowds became unbearable for us so we decided to drive up to Glacier Point where we had truly spectacular views of the valley and especially Half Dome.  By mid afternoon I think weariness had caught up with all of us so we decided to start the trek back to June Lakes but would stop on the way back at Tuolomne Meadows which was towards the eastern end of Tioga Pass.  The meadows were cool and relaxing and somewhat reminiscent of the Alps. Here we saw Spotted Sandpipers, more juncos and Audubon's warblers, a Mountain Bluebird and a fine White crowned Sparrow feeding along the river bank. 

Tufa's at Mono Lake

June 6th -  I awoke early and sat out on our veranda looking for any sign of  any bears, with out any luck, but a Red breasted Sapsucker showed well in front of our cabin which made the early star worth while.  As the light started to get better and the family was still sleeping I took a mountain track just 200 yards from our cabin and started to climb up.  A couple of sparring hummingbirds whizzed passed me and disappeared further up the track but I could not relocate them. More Yellow Warblers and Green tailed Juncos were seen with first sightings of fairly non descript Brewer's Sparrows and at least one pair of Gray Flycatchers.  On returning to the cabin it was decided that ♀ was going to potter around the cabin and sunbathe a little for the morning while I had persuaded juv. to accompany me, along with his friend Gameboy, to Mono Lake which was just down the road. On the way I had a quick scan on Grant Lake which turned up a Clark's Grebe in with a small flock of Westerns, and a lone Caspian Tern sitting on the shore.  Mono Lake is a soda lake which is famous for its hundreds of thousands of migrant birds ( the majority being phalaropes and Black necked grebes) and breeding Californian Gulls.  I was here at the wrong time of year of course but good birds were still to be had. We headed for the South Tufa which has the interesting soda pinnacles (juv likes minerally, fossily things).  The first thing we did notice were the soda flies , millions of them!  Being non biting and with no interest in annoying us these were a fascinating distraction for juv while I quickly scanned the lake.  Californian gulls were in abundance allowing close approach while feeding along the shore line, a pair of Ospreys had a nest on one of the tufas just off shore and the sky was full of Violet green swallows.  Along the waters edge and hopping around the Tufas were several Brewer's Sparrows, Yellow headed Blackbirds, a Sage Thrasher (unsurprisingly as the lake is surrounded by acres of sage brush) and a Savannah Sparrow.  We then went down to one of the Mono Craters which sounded good but was fairly unimpressive but a walk out into the sagebrush turned up more singing Brewer's Sparrows, a Song Sparrow and an excellent singing Sage Sparrow.  Later in the day I was granted leave again (after managing to safely navigate around June Lake in a boat!) and set off for Mono Lake again , this time to County Park which is just north of Lee Vining off Cemetery Road.  The habitat here is marshy and is generally where the birders head for, this afternoon it is very windy. From a viewing platform at the end of the board walk there are 5 hoped for Wilson's Phalarope all appear to be females, also here are Canada geese, Killdeer, American Avocet and some Gadwall.  In the evening once again I was perched on the veranda, drinking a few beers, not seeing any bears,  and reflecting on the past three weeks. Just as the sun was dropping behind the mountain a hummer appeared from no where and fed from a single red flower just 2 yards from me, a fabulous Anna's Hummingbird.

June 7th - Most of the day consisted of the journey back to Vegas and I had chosen to go back south on the 395 as far as Big Pine then cross country on the 168 to finally link up with the I95 to Vegas.  As we turned on to the 168 my main reason for taking this route materialised, as a Swainson's Hawk soaring directly over the road became my final tick of the trip.  The 168 provided some of those truly American driving experiences with long straight roads dramatic scenery and not another human being in sight- fantastic!  We arrived at the impressive Mandalay Bay for our last night's stay, where we rounded off an experienced packed holiday with a free upgrade to our own penthouse suite- God Bless America!

Systematic List

  1. Eared Grebe - c40 Henderson Viewing Preserve (HBVP) June 2nd
  2. Pied billed Grebe - seen on several larger lakes throughout region
  3. Western Grebe - Common in Sierra Nevada and also Crystal reservoir June 3rd
  4. Clarks Grebe - 1 with westerns on Grant Lake near Lee Vining June 6th
  5. White Pelican - 6 on Grant Lake in morning of June 5th
  6. Great Blue Heron - Seen on Colorado River, Page and near Springdale, Utah
  7. Snowy Egret - Noted at HBVP on 2nd and  Furnace Creek on 4th
  8. White faced Ibis - c10 at HBVP and Furnace Creek on evening of 3rd
  9. Canada Goose - Breeding pair Blue Springs Reservoir, Zion and a flock at Mono Lake
  10. Mallard - Noted on Springdale Pond
  11. Gadwall - 3 at County Park, Mono Lake June 6th
  12. Cinnamon Teal - several noted at HBVP where the species breeds
  13. Lesser Scaup - A female on the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam May 29th
  14. Redhead -  breeding birds seen at HBVP June 2nd
  15. Goldeneye - several pairs seen on the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry
  16. Common Merganser - seen along with species above
  17. Ruddy duck - Seen on most expanses of water, a dark coloured individual seen with many more typical birds at HBVP
  18. Turkey Vulture - seen regularly in all types of habitat
  19. Californian Condor - All though not strictly 'wild', bird No. 4 seen soaring over the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on May 27th was a particular highlight of mine
  20. Sharp shinned Hawk - A single flew across Kolob Canyon Road May 23rd
  21. Common Black Hawk - An adult was watched flying down the Lytle Ranch valley May 31st
  22. Red tailed Hawk - The most frequently encountered raptor of the trip
  23. Swainson's Hawk - Single over farmland from SR168 near Big Pine
  24. Osprey - One at Glen Dam and a pair seen from the South Tufa at Mono Lake
  25. Golden Eagle  - A pair observed visiting a nest along the Colorado River between Glen Canyon dam and Lees Ferry
  26. Bald Eagle - One drifted across mountain tops in June Lake, Cal June 4th
  27. American Kestrel - several seen, generally along the highways and interstate
  28. Peregrine - A pair seen during our float trip down the Colorado River
  29. Wild Turkey - Seen in Zion national Park, early morning
  30. Gambel's Quail - seen along the track leading to Lytle Ranch and HBVP
  31. Moorhen - Noted at HBVP
  32. American Coot - seen on most bodies of water including Colorado River
  33. Killdeer - Only seen at HBVP and Grant Lake cal
  34. Black necked Stilt - Breeding birds seen at HBVP
  35. American Avocet - seen at HBVP and County Park, Mono Lake breeding at both sites
  36. Spotted Sandpiper - Single flew over road near Mount Carmel May 24th and a pair seen at Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite
  37. Wilson's Phalarope - Up to 6 adults noted at County Park, Mono Lake June 6th
  38. Franklin's Gull - A first summer bird seen at Crystal Reservoir, Ash Meadows Wildlife Preserve on June 3rd
  39. Californian Gull - Many seen in and around the Mono Lake area, also seen at Bishop
  40. Caspian Tern - One seen on Grant Lake, June Lakes on June6th.
  41. Forster's Tern - 3 were noted at HBVP June 2nd.
  42. Morning Dove - Common and widespread.
  43. Eurasian Collared Dove - One was seen briefly on the grounds at Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley on June 3rd
  44. Inca Dove - 3 were noted on the lawns at Furnace Creek Ranch
  45. Greater Road runner - After almost giving up on ever seeing this species, a confiding individual on the grounds of Furnace Creek Ranch June 3rd, proved a welcome addition to my bird list!
  46. Common Nighthawk - One flew over fields next to the road just north of Big Pine  June 7th
  47. Lesser Nighthawk - At least two pairs over the golf course at Furnace Creek Ranch
  48. White throated Swift - Common around rocky cliff areas, especially Grand Canyon and Zion
  49. Black Swift - 3-4 were seen around the Lower Yosemite Falls on June 5th
  50. Black chinned Hummingbird - common near the Virgin River, Springdale and at Red Hills golf course, St George
  51. Anna's Hummingbird - Single seen briefly from our balcony at June Lakes June 6th
  52. Northern Flicker - Seen at the Grand Canyon and June Lakes
  53. Acorn Woodpecker - One seen near visitors centre at Yosemite June 5th
  54. Hairy Woodpecker - Seen in most wooded areas throughout trip
  55. Ladder backed Woodpecker - Seen from track leading to Lytle Ranch May 31st
  56. White headed Woodpecker - One seen in flight entering the visitors centre area at Yosemite and another seen along the edge of June Lake on June 6th
  57. Williamson's Sapsucker - A pair gave excellent views at the 'picnic site' Grand Canyon
  58. Red breasted Sapsucker - An adult watched from the balcony at June Lakes
  59. Olive sided Flycatcher - A pair noted at Springdale Pond and also Red Hills golf course and Lytle Ranch.
  60. Western Wood Pewee - A pair noted at June Lakes seen from the balcony of the Four Seasons cabin
  61. Gray Flycatcher - At least 2 seen on brushy slopes leading away from Four Seasons cabins, June Lakes
  62. Black Phoebe - Common around rivers and ponds, especially Springdale/Zion ands Lytle Ranch
  63. Vermillion Flycatcher - One of the highlights of the trip, at least two males were seen on two visits to the Red Hills golf course in St George.
  64. Ash throated Flycatcher - Fairly common in arid wooded areas.
  65. Western Kingbird - several seen including at Zion, Page golf course and Pipe Springs.
  66. Loggerhead Shrike - Only noted on the track down to Lytle Ranch
  67. Gray Vireo- Missed those on the Kolob Reservoir Road but at least 1 pair noted near Shivwits on May 31st.
  68. Cassin's Vireo - One near the parking lot at Yosemite visitors centre.
  69. Warbling Vireo - Widespread in most riparian wooded areas.
  70. Steller's Jay - First noted at the Grand Canyon, common in Yosemite/Sierra Nevada.
  71. Western Scrub Jay - First seen near Tropic, Bryce Canyon also noted at Shivwits.
  72. Clark's Nutcracker - Seen along Kolob Reservoir Road and several seen in flight in the Sierra Nevada area.
  73. Black billed Magpie - 2 were seen just north of Glendale, Utah along the HW89
  74. Common Raven- Very common in varied habitats.
  75. Horned Lark- One seen on wires below the Vermillion Cliffs and also noted near Furnace Creek, Death Valley.
  76. Tree Swallow - Only noted over Blue Springs Reservoir, Zion.
  77. Violet-green Swallow - Widespread, seen virtually everywhere away from Vegas
  78. Northern Roughwing - Seen at Springdale Pond
  79. Barn Swallow - Noted at Bryce Canyon opposite Ruby's Inn
  80. Cliff Swallow- Noted at Red Hills and also breeding colony under the I15 at Glendale, Nevada
  81. Black capped Chickadee - A family party noted at Springdale Pond were the only ones noted.
  82. Mountain Chickadee- Common in high altitude coniferous forest.
  83. Verdin- Common at Lytle Ranch and also noted at Henderson BVP and Furnace Creek.
  84. Bushtit- Seen at Springdale pond area and Shivwits.
  85. White- breasted Nuthatch- First noted in car lot at Bryce Canyon Lodge also seen at June lakes and Grand Canyon.
  86. Red breasted Nuthatch- Seen at Bryce, Grand Canyon and June Lakes.
  87. Pygmy Nuthach- Also seen in Bryce Canyon Lodge car lot, early morning before to many cars got there!
  88. Marsh Wren- Nearly missed these at HBVP, before being treated to a chauffeur driven golf buggy ride to tick these without stepping a yard!
  89. Bewick's Wren - Common at Lytle Ranch.
  90. House Wren- noted at Zion Lodge and at Bryce Canyon.
  91. Rock Wren- First seen in the car lot at Cape Royal, Grand Canyon others noted Navajo Bridge, Horse-shoe Bend and Page MacDonalds Drive-in, all in Arizona
  92. Canyon Wren- This species descending 'peu peu peu' calls were heard from most arid Canyons, but just one at Zion was actually seen.
  93. Cactus Wren - Three of these giants were well watched along the unpaved road from Lytle Ranch.
  94. American Dipper - The Temple of Sinawava's Riverside walk in Zion NP produced at least four dippers showing well.
  95. Ruby crowned Kinglet- Only one seen was at the 'picnic site' a few miles north of the North Rim, G.Canyon.
  96. Black tailed Gnatcatcher- Birds seen at Lytle Ranch and HBVP in ideal desert habitat.
  97. Mountain Bluebird - One seen just north east of Zion NP and another seen on the Tulomne Meadows, Yosemite.
  98. Western Bluebird - Common around that parking lot at Bryce Canyon Lodge.
  99. Townsend Solitaire- First seen at 'marker 4 picnic site' at the North Rim subsequent sightings at Imperial Point and at Yosemite's Glacier Point.
  100. American Robin - Common and widespread away from Vegas in most riparian habitats.
  101. Hermit Thrush- Seen in under story brush in coniferous woodland at Bryce Bristlecone Trail and North Rim Windfoss Trail.
  102. Northern Mockingbird - Only noted from along the track to Ash Meadows W.P. on June 3rd
  103. Crissal Thrasher - 6 were seen extremely well at Henderson B.V.P along the western perimeter fence June 2nd.
  104. Sage Thrasher- Several seen around Mono Lake including one feeding around South Tufa's Tufa's.
  105. Phainopepla - First seen in grounds of Desert Pearl Inn , Springdale with further sightings at Springdale Pond and several at Lytle Ranch
  106. Lucy's Warbler - Numerous at Lytle Ranch and from the track to it.
  107. Yellow Warbler - Common in damp deciduous woods, especially Zion N.P
  108. Black throated Gray Warbler - Found among the Juniper woods along the path to Cape Royal View Point at the North Rim and in chaparral at Shivwit hills near Lytle Ranch.
  109. Audubon's Warbler - Common at Bryce and the North Rim especially around the cabins.
  110. Yellowthroat - A male singing from swamp beds at Henderson B.V.P.
  111. Wilson's Warbler - Singles seen on first visit to Red Hills golf course and also near the visitors centre at Yosemite.
  112. Painted Redstart - Another highlight bird, a male was successfully twitched at Zion N.P seen from the Riverside Walk, singing its heart out, May 24th
  113. Western Tanager - Common and widespread wherever there were trees.
  114. Summer Tanager - A pair were seen in a small area of scattered woodland directly behind Springdale Pond May 22nd.
  115. Lazuli Bunting - Only a single male seen along the Kolob road May 23rd.
  116. Blue Grosbeak - A male singing behind Springdale Pond May 22nd and another singing male seen from the float boat along the banks of the Colorado River near Page.
  117. Black headed Grosbeak - Quite common and noted at most woodland sites.
  118. Abert's Towhee - Scored again at Henderson B.V.P with several giving good views on the pathways.
  119. Spotted Towhee - first noted at Tropic, with another at the North Rim.
  120. Green tailed Towhee - Several on the hillside behind our cabin at The Four Seasons, June Lakes and in the sage brush around Mono Lake.
  121. Black throated Sparrow - Only seen at Lytle Ranch where they were fairly common.
  122. Sage Sparrow - a singing male found at the edge of the sage brush plains on the banks of Mono Lake.
  123. Chipping Sparrow- seen in around clearings in wooded areas of both Bryce and the North Rim.
  124. Brewers Sparrow - first noted on hillside behind the cabin at June Lakes and also at the South Tufas, Mono Lake.
  125. Black chinned Sparrow - seen on hillsides of chaparral near Shivwits, a habitat specific species.
  126. Lark Sparrow - a single seen around paddocks at Pipe Springs National Monument May 30th.
  127. Savannah Sparrow - a pair seen around the South Tufas, Mono Lake.
  128. Fox Sparrow - A pair of  'slate coloured' types were seen on the Fern Lake hiking trail at June Lake
  129. Song Sparrow - several seen along the Riverside Walk, Zion N.P and 1 singing at South Tufa, Mono Lake.
  130. Dark eyed Junco - Grey headed types were relatively common at Bryce and Grand Canyon N.P, and the rather handsome 'Oregon' types were seen regularly from our cabin at June Lake.
  131. White crowned Sparrow - A fine 'interior west' type was watched feeding along the riverbank at Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite N.P
  132.  Bullock's Oriole - Only noted at Red Hills golf course, St George
  133. Scott's Oriole - A pair seen along the track to Lytle Ranch in classic habitat of open yucca forest.
  134. Western Meadow Lark - 1 seen along the Kolob road in the pastures on the plateau May 23rd.
  135. Red winged Blackbird - Noted at Red Hills golf course, Henderson B.V.P, and stealing food from tables at the eating areas in Yosemite Village!
  136. Yellow headed Blackbird - first seen at Henderson B.V.P with several noted at Mono Lake.
  137. Brewer's Blackbird - Seen at Blue Springs Reservoir, Kolob Road, June Lake and partners in crime with Red wings at Yosemite Village.
  138. Great tailed Grackle - First 'tick' of the trip, several were around the pool area of the Luxor Hotel with many also at Henderson B.V.P.
  139. Brown headed Cowbird - Noted on first visit to Red Hills golf course, Henderson B.V.P and residential areas around Page.
  140. Red Crossbill - 5 seen around the parking lot at Bryce Lodge May 25th
  141. Evening Grosbeak - A pair were filmed gathering nesting material at Picnic area No 4 at the North Rim May 27th/28th. An unexpected bonus!
  142. House Finch - A common bird of towns and suburbs.
  143. Cassin's Finch - Males were noted at Bryce Lodge parking lot and from Fern Lake hiking trail, June Lake.
  144. Lesser Goldfinch - Seen quite commonly at Zion especially along the Virgin River, also seen in Tropic.
  145. American Goldfinch - One was noted with House Finches along the main road in Tropic, being attracted to a fountain at the end of the street May 25th.
  146. Pine Siskin - seen in Grand Canyon N.P at the Widfoss trail parking lot and at the picnic site near marker No. 4.
  147. House Sparrow - Common, even living INSIDE the main foyer at the Luxor Hotel!


Accommodation -

Las Vegas - - has all the hotels plus all the non bird stuff  you might need for this city that never sleeps!
Zion N.P, Desert Pearl Inn - Very well presented in beautiful surroundings, birders will prefer River view rooms.
Bryce N.P - - Covers a fairly broad area. We DO NOT recommend Bryce Canyon Inn, Tropic.
Grand Canyon North Rim Cabins - - Xanterra generally own the lodges that are actually in the National Parks after you pass through the pay toll.
Page, Canyon Colors - - A homely B&B in the quiet suburbs.
Death Valley - Furnace Creek Ranch is another Xanterra property.
June Lake , The Four Seasons - A frame cabins with truly stunning views.

Birding- - An excellent site to get you birding on the outer limits of Vegas.  - This is the way to produce a birding web site! - General information about this site, also has a recent sightings page.  - Good site for trip reports. - Covers all the national parks. Once your at the one you want click 'In depth' then 'animals for bird lists.  - A great little reserve, well worth a visit.


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