Sunday, August 7, 2016

Grand Canyon Wildlife

The landscape was definitely the focus over our two days at the Grand Canyon. But we also saw a bit of wildlife there as well.

Bull Elk, Tusayan
I've seen plenty of elk in national parks like Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone.  It came as a surprise to me that the landscape on the south rim was dominated by pine forest, which apparently was home to quite a few elk.  I saw two pairs of mothers and calves on my very first trip into the park, then this handsome male early in the morning.

Bull Elk, Tusayan
He wasn't actually in the park, though.  He was grazing in an empty lot next to a McDonald's in Tusayan.  The elk were very comfortable in town -- the main street was covered in them the previous evening, and two males even came up to our hotel room window on our second night!

Immature Scrub Jay, Grand Canyon
I believe this is an immature Western Scrub Jay hanging out along the Hermits Rest route.

Dragonfly, Grand Canyon
Dragonfly along the Hermits Rest route.  I'm going to have to ask dragonfly guru Michael Fox for a more definitive ID.

Raven, Grand Canyon
Raven at Hermits Rest.  It's always a challenge to shoot birds with black feathers like these.  Converting the shot to black and white helped bring out the texture in its plumage.

Rock Squirrel, Grand Canyon
Rock squirrels were fairly plentiful.  On my Bright Angel Trail hike this one showed that he was just as hot as I was.

Desert Bighorn Sheep, Grand Canyon
As I was finishing up the Bright Angel Trail a small group of desert bighorn sheep appeared.  The younger ones hesitated, seemingly taken aback a bit by the steep canyon wall.  An older sheep then showed them how its done, seemingly defying physics as it gracefully negotiated the slope.  The young ones eventually followed once they'd seen it modeled.  An education concept that even works in nature!

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