Monday, May 16, 2011

Bighorns on the Overlook Trail

Here they are! I finally have these photos of Bighorn sheep uploaded, now that Blogger is back up and running (three or four of my original uploads lost from this post while it was in draft mode during the process of Blogger fixification, but which were fortunately saved on another blog that I use for editing purposes).

From the grouping in the first photo, we know that there were at least 7 or 8 critters munching bushes not far off the Canyon Overlook Trail (in Zion National Park, first seen here and here) -- at least three lambs and at least three ewes -- and there were more: one or two more lambs and at least two more ewes wandering around closer to us amongst all the sandstone beds and little cliffs, making at least 10 or 11, depending on how many I'm actually seeing in the first photo.
A ewe framed by trees and prickly pears.

At least two ewes and one lamb wandered through this framing area, with me walking slowly closer and closer, not wanting to scare them away, not knowing that they were quite adapted to people.
One of the close-by lambs, not far from the previous shot.

This same lamb, or a second close-by lamb, was seen in Cross-Bedded, high above us on sandstone ledges.
As we walked back from the Zion Canyon overlook at the end of the trail, we eventually came upon these two ewes hanging out on sandstone strata about 20 to 40 feet above the trail. They posed for quite some time, and other trail hikers stopped to look and snap photos.
Suddenly, around the corner behind the first ledge, we came upon two ewes munching bushes right on the side of the trail. In fact, one was in the trail to begin with, then moved behind a tree as we snuck closer. The in-the-trail ewe was first seen in More Cross Bedding, where she provided a rough scale to an nicely cross-bedded exposure.
It turned out that we could get quite close, within twenty feet I'd say, without scaring them off. This first one did move from behind a tree to a slightly farther bush, but then let us move closer.
Here she's settled in to bush chomping, but is keeping an eye on us. The other trail hikers were still back at the first ledge, looking at the two ewes above, and hadn't caught up with us, so we had them all to ourselves for a bit.
The second ewe in the bushes didn't seem at all disturbed by us, but she was a little farther away and sometimes behind the other one. We had to walk by them, there was no other place to walk, so eventually, after only a couple minutes, we did -- we still had miles to go by road, and were about 15 minutes, walking quickly, from the Prius.
Chipmunk bonus shot!

Earlier in the day, we spotted this chipmunk underneath some low-growing oak shrubs. We heard birds, but didn't spot them quickly enough for photos.


coconino said...

Very nice! When did you go?

Silver Fox said...

We were there the first day or so of May. Weather was deliciously cool! :)