Saturday, May 1, 2010


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We drove over 300 miles today and spent many hours watching and waiting, but we finally saw the condors! We took a trip into Arizona to the Vermillion Cliffs Condor Viewing Site. The web-site states that visitors are "almost guaranteed" to see the huge black birds soaring overhead. We spotted the pens atop the cliffs where they have raised the birds until they could be released into the wild and several guano marked sites where they had been nesting, but NO birds.

After watching fruitlessly for a couple of hours (but I did find some new flowers!), we decided to drive over to Navajo Bridge in Glen Canyon which is also supposed to be a hot spot for seeing these birds with their 9-10 foot wingspan. The ranger at the center there assured us that "the birds are here every afternoon -- they play around and fly under the bridges. They should be here within the next hour or so." We walked back and forth across the old bridge, which is a very impressive span built across the Colorado River in the early 1930s; took some pictures; visited with some bikers, but the birds were a no-show. Forry chatted with some Navajos selling jewelry on the reservation side of the bridge. One of the elders told him that the birds usually were there most days, but that they always headed back to their nests in the Vermillion Cliffs at dusk.

We stayed hopefully at the bridge until after 5 PM, then decided to drive back to the Cliff observation kiosk. When we finally got back there, there was nothing new to be seen except for a bunch of ravens playing in the flat below the cliffs. We sat in the car and watched with the scope for about an hour. By then the wind was getting stronger and it was cold. Forry set his scope up outside as thought he saw something black sitting on the cliff above the guano. I went out with him to try to see if he was seeing a bird. It was COLD!

All of a sudden we saw a couple of birds high in the air above the cliff and you could see white on their wings! Then there were a couple more and then there were five, then six then eight, circling around above the cliff, then gliding down into the openings and ledges on the cliff wall! We were able to follow them down into the cliffs and then could see several of them sitting on the ledges. We were so excited! This is a fantastic new life bird for both of us.

The only bad thing is that they were too far away for pictures! The observation kiosk is at least 3/4 mile from the cliffs and the birds were hard to see even with the binos and the spotting scope.

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