The Southwest

Hi All,

We just spent a month traveling in NW New Mexico, N Arizona, SE Utah and Colorado. I searched a lot of slot canyons, small caves and abandoned mines, but had little luck with bats (not a single decent colony!) Really interesting sightings were few. Here are those worth mentioning:

1) Chaco Culture NHP, NM: Lots of rodents this year, especially around the campground. Apache and silky pocket mice, Ord’s and banner-tailed k-rats, brush and deer mice.

2) Aubrey Valley, AZ: I spent an hour watching a female black-tailed ferret transfer her pups to a new den. It was between mile markers 127 and 128. A friendly badger was near mile marker 129. Lots of grasshopper mice (Northern?) between mile 130 and Seligman, and a few Ord’s k-rats throughout. Desert and (surprise!) Eastern cottontails also common.

3) Petrified Forest NP, AZ: Found a Yuma myotis on the wall of the northern visitor center. Rangers said they also roost in Desert View Inn sometimes. Some very tame pronghorn along the trails.

4) Grand Canyon, AZ: There is apparently a huge bat colony somewhere in the cliffs below Mojave Point and Abyss overlooks (on South Rim). At dusk there were lots of bats emerging from below the cliffs or flying along the edge. The ones I could identify were big bonnetted bat, Mexican freetail, pallid bat, canyon bat, and hoary bat. I think it might be possible to see a spotted bat there if you spend enough time spotlighting along the rim. Canyon bats were roosting on the outer walls of the restaurant near Desert View Tower. Kaibab squirrels are very rare this year; none has been seen around Jacob’s Lake according to the campground host.

5) Capitol Reef NP, UT: Rocks here have countless niches and small caves, and almost every one I checked had something interesting in it. Mammals included a ringtail, a bushy-tailed woodrat, a long-legged myotis, many canyon bats and a Townsend’s big-eared bat.

6) Vermillion Cliffs NM, AZ/UT: Chisel-toothed k-rats were common this year, easy to see both in Marble Canyon area and near Wire Pass Trailhead. Ord’s k-rats were abundant. Found an Arizona myotis under a highway bridge near Lee’s Ferry.

7) Arches NP, UT: There were huge swarms of bats feeding above the small creek near Wolfe Ranch. Most seemed to be canyon bats, but there were also pallid bats and some myotis (probably long-legged and/or Yuma).

8) Canyonlands NP, UT: Horseshoe Canyon hike is excellent if done very early in the morning. I saw desert bighorns and a gray fox, along with more common stuff. According to the trail register, someone saw a spotted skunk a few days earlier.

9) Sego Canyon, UT: there is a Mexican freetail colony in one of the walls with petroglyphs (look for stains on the cliff).

10) Escalante Petrified Forest SP, UT: Western red bats feed and roost around the campground.

11) Temple Mountain near Goblin Valley SP, UT: this area once had lots of abandoned uranium mines, and was good for bats. This time all mines I could find were gated or completely sealed with concrete, but I saw one big brown bat through the metal gate above the ghost town parking lot.

12) Rifle Falls SP, CO: there are numerous small caves around the falls. One inaccessible crack appears to contain a large bat colony, and single bats can be found roosting in other caves. I found a few little browns and one long-eared myotis (my second one ever). Avoid weekends!

13) Mount Evans and Rocky Mountains NP, CO: chipmunk numbers seem to be unusually low this year, but there’s more pikas than I’ve ever seen in either place.


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