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Monday, October 12, 2009

Rogue Life List: #43. Photograph an Endangered Species in its Natural Habitat

Today we broke camp early to make our way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Because there is not a bridge that spans the 10 mile gap between the two campsites you have to drive 5 hours around the 244 mile long canyon. I was on a mission to see the California Condor today so after gathering as much information from every ranger I could speak to we made a million random stops along the way.

At every stop we scanned the skies for the bird and at the Navajo Bridge (one of the stops a ranger recommended), the bridge that crosses over the smallest part of the canyon, we got out to stare at the cliffs.

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After about a half hour I spotted a slight bump on the horizon. Zooming in the camera I started to get excited when the bump turned out to be a VERY large bird.

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Now, I didn’t start immediately jumping up and down because the area is peppered with hundreds of turkey vultures a bird that looks very similar to the California Condor from far away. But then the bird opened up its wings my breath hitched because I thought I saw id tags.

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You see at the visitor center I learned that a sure fire way of KNOWING that it is a condor is that you can see the tags on the wings. And once the bird opened its wings I THOUGHT I saw tags so I waited another 20 minutes with batted breath and then the bird took off.

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Glaring in the sun I caught on camera what was defiantly a California Condor and although it isn’t the best photo in the world, hey it was like a million miles away, I am happy with what I got.

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When that bird threw open its wings, with its nine and a half foot wingspan, everyone on the bridge quieted and we all watched seeing an almost extinct bird soar elegantly out of sight. It was one of those magical moments, a chance of a lifetime, this amateur bird watchers dream come true.

The day after I was able to speak to a ranger who was able to look up my bird by its tag id, C1. She was a four year old female born in captivity on 5/10/05 and released into the wild 3/15/08. It was wonderful to learn more about the bird I got the photo off and we were even able to go to a Condor seminar where we learned a lot more about the species.

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In August I thought that I had captured a photo of an endangered bird, the Brown Pelican and was excited to scratch #43. Photograph an Endangered Species in its Natural Habitat off my Rogue List. Sadly after doing more research later in the month I learned that the Brown Pelican’s population technically took it off the red list. Today however I can without a doubt cross off #43. With only 172 birds in the wild (322 total) the California Condor defiantly qualifies as an endangered species.

1 comment:

paul peggy zeus said...

Great job! I'm happy you found one. :)

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