Dropping into Cove Canyon

 

While thousands of boaters float down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon every year, dozens of side canyons branching off the river receive much less attention. During my recent float trip, we explored several technical canyons. Because of the small amount of daylight in late November and December in the Canyon, side trips required an early start and several ended by headlamp in the dark. My favorite side trip was in Cove Canyon which comes into the Colorado around river mile 175. From our camp at the mouth of Cove Canyon six of us departed before first light. A bit over 12 hours later we made our way back into camp after navigating the final plunge pool and rappell via headlamp.

Grand Canyon Wildlife, Birds, and Tracks

Wildlife and signs of wild animals abound along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The silty banks of the river hold the tracks of many species large and small while birds, from tiny canyon wrens to California Condors can be spotted on the water, in the brush or soaring above the canyon walls. Here is a little bit of what I found on my recent float trip down the river.

Animal Tracks in the Grand Canyon

Footprints of a wild animals were abundant along the banks of the Colorado river. Here are a bunch of wildlife tracks I took while on the river along with a few clues on how to tell what they are!

 Grand Canyon Birds

Though I am not much of a birder I amassed a species list of about 35 birds during my November-December trip down the Canyon. The abundance and diversity of birds definately increased towards the end of the trip. Here are a few I managed to snap a photo of.

 A great blue heron takes flight along the Colorado River. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

A great blue heron takes flight along the Colorado River. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

 Ross’s x Snow goose hybrid. We saw a single pair on the river. They had probably stopped during their southern fall migration.

Ross’s x Snow goose hybrid. We saw a single pair on the river. They had probably stopped during their southern fall migration.

 Canyon Wrens were one of the most common birds to see or hear along much of the river. Their beatiful lyrical song echoeing off the canyon walls was one of the most amazing sounds on the river. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Canyon Wrens were one of the most common birds to see or hear along much of the river. Their beatiful lyrical song echoeing off the canyon walls was one of the most amazing sounds on the river. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

 A common raven looks out from a perch on a sandstone ledge. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

A common raven looks out from a perch on a sandstone ledge. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

 A first winter white-crowned sparrow. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

A first winter white-crowned sparrow. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

 Rock wren. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Rock wren. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

 Patience and careful observation revealed this ruby-crowned kinglet in the brush up a side canyon. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Patience and careful observation revealed this ruby-crowned kinglet in the brush up a side canyon. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

See more of my Bird Photography here!

Grand Canyon Mammals

While footprints revealed the presence of a great many more species of mammals than we actually had live sightings of our party saw bighorn sheep on several occasions and had some notable interactions with ringtails. Perhaps most unusual was the discovery of a ringtail in one of our party's tent when he retired for the evening!

 A bighorn sheep ram foraging along the shore of the Colorado River. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

A bighorn sheep ram foraging along the shore of the Colorado River. Grand Canyon, Arizona.

 A group of bighorn sheep ewes in Tuckup Canyon, a tributary to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

A group of bighorn sheep ewes in Tuckup Canyon, a tributary to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Check out more of my mammal photography here!