Saturday, October 17, 2015

Between Rocks and Statues

On a road trip into rock, canyon and absolute nothingness, we have discovered strange life (or no life at all) in the most barren and remote regions of the Utah and Nevada deserts.  

Townsend's Warbler-How does a warbler get here?
The birding hotspots are few and far between in these hostile environments.  I normally don't prefer these kinds of treks(the DRIVE!) but the life bird challenge continues and forces me into new regions.  There are places you can't avoid for certain birds.

Great Blue Heron along a waterway
In a way, it's good because it forces me to see the beauty of those places. While in Utah, we were also very responsible birders. I remember there was a bit of time involved several months ago as we planned our trek through this conservative state. I'm not a big fan of any organized religion. While everyone was polite and all smiles in Utah, there was a plastic feel to it all.  So we used our own plastic to support the small businesses that we felt made a positive impact for ALL. I have not forgotten Proposition 8 and it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. When we bird in various locations, we also try to support the birding establishments or conservation efforts happening in that locale. 

Like any trek, we found a lot of amazing things in the many various habitats.  There were rocks.  Rocks with trees.  Rocks with streams.  A weird need for grass lawns that don't belong in a desert full of rocks.  And so on and so forth.....

There were wonderful slot canyons that we explored just for fun.  I loved that they were dark and cooler.  The heat in the West has still been a bit much.  Temps hit the 90's while we were in Southern Utah. 

We visited places like the Hoover Dam(above) and Arches National Monument(below) while surveying these areas for birds. 

Over the next several weeks, we'll take a look at several stunning places during our visit.  I am thankful we had a friend in Salt Lake City show us some of the incredible birding hotspots around the lake.  

Winged Figures of the Republic
The most exciting part of this particular trip was discovering my first wild Bighorn Sheep in southern Nevada.  We nearly got into an accident as we approached this often difficult to see mammal. I've been in Arizona for 18 years and have never seen one of these it was as Donald Trump says, "HUGE!".  When you see a barren rocky landscape and think to yourself, "What lives here?"; you'll now know the answer:)

The Hoover Dam was the Hoover Dam.  It was interesting but I could only find a couple coots(the bird kind:) and like a billion tourists. We didn't stay long.  

And somehow we found wildlife in these desolate or overcrowded areas. Most people never even noticed the few critters that stayed hidden in the shadows. Part of that had to do with the heat!  Everyone was on the move.  But the critters knew best:)

Townsend's Warbler
We kick off next week in a spectacular fashion.  Please join us as we'll explore an amazing park located in Southern Utah.  


  1. Awesome photos! I haven't been out that way in quite a while now. This post makes me want to go back.

  2. That stark southern UT landscape may not be the Best for birding but I love the slickrock sculptures more than the dam.

  3. What a wonderful adventeous .Gorgepousviews, fantastic statues and I love that warbler.

  4. Wow!!! Amazing images Chris,love the birds as always but the 'winged figures' are spectacular, such a super photographic opportunity. Curious to know what Proposition 8 was all about?

    1. Prop 8 was an initiative that legally defined marriage between a man and woman. The Mormons dumped a whole lot of money to get it passed but usual adversaries, the Catholics, secretly helped support it as well. Eventually after a couple years it was struck down by the Supreme Court. This hasn't been the only issue but it's the one that got me most angry. When the Mormon run state saw that they were going to lose the battle, they made a shady deal with the glbt community. And for some reason the glbt community shook their hands with the devil.

  5. The Townsend's Warbler knows for sure what is best for him in this area and he shared with you his beauty. Thks for sharing.

  6. Beautiful dramatic scenes you've captured!

  7. An extremely interesting and enjoyable post, Chris. Great images, although I'm not keen on the one of the Hoover Dam which, to my mind, contains too much visual ugliness in an otherwise beautiful landscape - dam, bridge and pylons - ugh!!! I do, however, understand their economic value - but don't necessarily approve of it!

    Sorry not to have been by for a while. My spirits were low and I withdrew from Bloggerland. Hopefully I'll be bouncing back now.

    Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

  8. Fun adventure. Love Utah. Can't wait for the next photo set.

  9. Great sounding trip. Those statues are quite fascinating. - I would have enjoyed the Dam as I think dams are interesting. - Arches is an amazing place to visit.

  10. Oh congrats on the Big Horn sheep sighting. - Super cool.

  11. Awesome shots- you two be careful out there in the desert...drink lots of water! The Hoover dam is pretty, but not something on my list. Have fun!

  12. What a wonderful trip - super landscape and wildlife shots Chris. Sounds another great adventure - can't wait to read more!!

  13. Apart from the lovely and wonderful bird is the sculpture that makes big impression. Good luck on the trip. Regards.

  14. Gorgeoys scenery and I love the warbler. Wonderful post and images ! I know you are having a fun time. Have a happy week!

  15. Fascinating trip, Chris!!! Great photos. Love those closeups of the statues at Hoover Dam.


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