Grand Canyon: Nearing the Peak

26 September 2016

Text and photos by Kumara MacLeod and Casey Weissburg

We have survived yet another week of wind!  As the peak of season nears, we are grateful for a break from unusually windy and cold weather.  Sunny days and northerly winds have brought our numbers back up and are making us hopeful for more Broad-winged Hawk sightings.

Despite being caught at the fringes of tropical storm Paine, our numbers for the season are looking promising.  We are already past the halfway mark for our historic average with over 2500 birds seen so far!  Merlins seem to be doing especially well this year as we have had 3 speed by our site this week, doubling our count for that species.

With the sunshine comes both hawks and visitors.  We have shared our count with over a thousand people from all over the world since August 27th.  Peak of season is my favorite time of the fall, both for the birds, and also for the chance to get to know (or reconnect) with the local Arizona birding community.  This week gave us a wonderful mix of folks from the Desert Rivers Audubon Society, some returning visitors from Flagstaff, and of course our local Grand Canyon Park Service friends Brian Gatlin and Bob George.  Our resident Peregrine Falcon and Zone-tailed Hawks gave this crowd a show on Sunday as they zoomed around in the expansive canyon below us.  It has been a wonderful weekend of meeting new friends and swapping bird stories.