April 11 – late afternoon – The rain had stopped, and even though the skies looked threatening, and the wind was BLOWING, we decided to hike the 1.5 miles out to Plateau Point. This is one of our favorite places…..we have such good memories of sitting on this overlook in the very middle of the canyon….sharing that experience for the first time with our kids in 2004, and again with our friend, Becky, in 2010. We could not pass up this opportunity, no matter what the weather.
I am SO glad that we went……The lighting was spectacular! And if you look closely in the center of this picture…..a rainbow!
Faint….almost blocked out by the heavy clouds….. the unmistakable promise of a rainbow.
As we watched the sky…..suddenly we spotted a California Condor! Then two…then three!
The three Condors were riding the air currents…..around and around the face of the cliff…..landing here….and then there….as if practicing?
We were able to get this picture when the three landed on a nearby cliff face. The Ranger had asked “How do you know that you have spotted a Condor? One answer – By their tag!” The mature Condors all have a number tag. The young birds do not get their tags until they are two years old.
Later, when we were able to ask a Ranger about the Condors we had sighted , we were told that #4 was a 12 year old male and #80 was his mate, a 10 year old female. Condors mate for life. In the past several years, they had had several failed attempts at nesting, but this year they had been successful. The third bird in the group was their 6 month old fledgling (they are full sized when they fledge) We had been right. The parents were teaching the young bird to fly…..practicing on the windy air currents!
Condors are kind-of ugly birds up close…..
But majestic in flight! And a success story of bringing a species back from the brink of extinction.
We sat and watched for the Condors….and watched the light and clouds create changing colors in the canyon……
At that half-way point, where both river……
And rim are visible.
We watched as evening fell and the sunset turned the rocks red/orange…..
The sunset itself was unremarkable….too much cloud cover. But…Oh – the show that was put on for those few who sat and watched!