Aoudads and turkey vultures in Palo Duro Canyon

Spent the evening watching some relatively tame aoudad near Palo Duro Canyon and despite the fact they are exotic species, and should have never been introduced here, I can’t help but marvel at these beautiful animals.  Away from this one small, tame group, these animals are like ghosts in the canyon.  They blend in incredibly well, can reach almost any spot in these rugged lands, and we’ve even found them to use caves.  I worked in a remote part of the canyon intensively conducting mammal research before spotting my first aoudad (aka Barbary sheep).  Since that time I have seen many more but these are elusive animals.

After watching the aoudads, we went to the overlook behind the Cow Camps in Palo Duro Canyon State Park to watch the sun set and the turkeys and about 150 turkey vultures come in to roost.  These birds are incredibly graceful in flight and a joy to watch come in to land.  The landings, in the top of a cottonwood tree, were not always so graceful.  One vulture crashed through about 4 branches before coming to a halt.  On the way out of the park we found numerous red spotted toads on the roads (drive carefully and avoid what look like small rocks on the road!).  In my experience in the canyon, these are by far the most commonly discovered species of frog.  Also seen or heard were white-tailed and mule deer, ash-throated flycatchers, and golden-fronted woodpeckers and a spectacular sunset with a crecent moon as a nice accent.  I am heading back out in the morning at 4:00 am to explore with my thermal camera.  Tune in next time to see what lurkes in the canyon at night!

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