Sunday, June 23, 2013

Vacation Nature - Arizona

I spent last week in Arizona to attend the wedding of Carrie Hoffman (my niece) and Zach Minnich in Williams, Arizona and then sightseeing afterwards with my parents at the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, Lake Powell and Prescott.  I met my folks in Columbus, Ohio, where we worried as we listened to tornado warning sirens the evening before our flight out to Arizona.  We felt lucky to get out safely and on time.

I did my best to keep an eye out for nature sightings in this unique Southwest habitat.  What fun!

Osprey nest
Williams, AZ

We saw this nest on the way to the wedding.  I thought it was a Bald Eagle, but now that I can see a closeup on the computer, I realize it is an osprey.

Zach & Carrie

Prickly Pear cactus - Oak Creek Canyon overlook

Oak Creek Canyon

Cataract Lake
Williams, AZ

The bride and groom hosted a welcome picnic at Cataract Lake in Williams, AZ.   It was a beautiful spot and filled with lots of good nature sightings!

Osprey with freshly caught fish

I watched two osprey fishing the lake and was lucky to catch a shot of this one as it flew off after splashing into the water.

White-Faced Ibis (life bird)
Thanks to Alan M. for assistance in the identification of these birds!

After the wedding, we headed up to Page, stopping at many overlooks at the Grand Canyon along the way.

The Grand Canyon

At one of the overlooks, a Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly flew up out of the canyon, in front of our eyes, then flew back over the canyon.  A thrill in spite of no photographic record.  We also saw a large elk sitting on the ground just off the roadway.  We saw it because a couple was approaching it (illegal).

The views of the Grand Canyon are spectacular, and it's so hard to take it all in.  What a place.  Thank goodness it's national protected land.  My pictures do not do it justice.

When my parents lived in Arizona, they used to hunt for wildflowers (primarily cactus) in the spring, so they were thrilled to find blooming cactus this late in the year.  My Dad spotted these prickly pears in the parking lot at one of the overlooks at the Grand Canyon.

I also saw my first Spotted Towhee at the desert overlook.

Spotted Towhee (life bird)
Grand Canyon National Park

Northern White-Skipper (life butterfly)
Grand Canyon National Park

Common Ravens

We saw Common Ravens at nearly every location on this trip, often taking advantage of food dropped by tourists....

After leaving the Grand Canyon, we headed north to Lake Powell.  We ran into a rather long and unexpected detour, that added about 40 miles to our trip, later learning that there had been a landslide that took out 500 feet of Route 89.  The AZ Department of Transportation is currently paving what had been a dirt road through Navajo Nation as a temporary, shorter detour until they decide how best to repair the road.... if they can.

This is a closeup of the type and colors of rock formations all around Page and Lake Powell.  

Mormon Metal-Mark (life butterfly)
Page, AZ

Dinosaur footprint
Powell Museum, Page, AZ

Lake Powell

Desert Willow (Chilopsis), a native plant with protected status


Gray Hairstreak (a familiar butterfly from home!)
Lake Powell, Page, AZ

After a few days in Page, we headed down to Prescott, which had been my parents' hometown while they lived in AZ.  They visited friends, while I enjoyed watching birds, butterflies and hummingbirds in the area.  Oh, how I wished I had my binoculars with me!  We also kept an eye on the news to stay updated on a wildfire that was burning just northwest of Prescott, in the Granite Mountain area.  You could see the smoke from town.  Last I heard the Doce Fire was 40% contained and there had been no loss of structures and no injuries.  It was so dry there, and the winds were blowing at a constant 25 mph with gusts up to 30, so it was amazing to me that they were able to gain control of the fire.  It was at about 6,000 acres in under 24 hours, so you can see how fast it can grow in that climate.

Bridled Titmouse (life bird)
Lynx Lake, Prescott, AZ

White Checkered-Skipper (life butterfly)
Lynx Lake, Prescott, AZ

Checkered White (life butterfly)
Lynx Lake, Prescott, AZ


  1. Great views with great variety; Dawn, I've heard the Great Canyon gets very hot in the summer; did you feel this heat? Maybe not yet; but anyway, thanks for sharing these.

    1. The heat was tolerable at the Grand Canyon. I don't remember the exact temps while we were there. Lake Powell was actually hotter, about 100 degrees the three days we were there. There was always a breeze and it wasn't bad in the shade. I was not doing any hiking, and I'm sure that would have made a difference in my tolerance level, too.