AZFO FIELD EXPEDITION
Piute Canyon and Page, Navajo and Coconino Cos.
9-10 December 2017
Leaders: Felipe Guerrero
Piute Canyon, straddling the Arizona-Utah border in extreme northwestern Navajo Co., offers some of the most remote and under-explored country in northern Arizona. Situated on Navajo Tribal Land, the avifauna of the area is only known from a few brief visits for the Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas in the 1990s, and, with the exception of our expedition last year, has virtually never been surveyed in winter. Our return expedition aims to continue exploring the area as thoroughly as possible and increase our understanding of its wintering birds.
Running South-North, Piute Canyon is some 30 miles in length with as many miles of side-drainages, and drops from over 7,000 feet at its southern end to 3,700 feet at its confluence with the San Juan River, in Utah. This wide elevational range presents a rich diversity of habitat from Great Basin Desertscrub and Conifer Woodland to small agricultural fields and stretches of riparian forest along Piute Creek.
Due to the location and orientation of Piute Canyon, the drainage may serve as a natural corridor for birds from the North, and has potential for such rare and local visitors as Black-capped Chickadee, American Tree Sparrow, Northern Shrike, Black-billed Magpie, and Rosy-Finches. Our expedition will focus on the upper reaches of the canyon, where a dirt road provides access to Piute Creek and several springs with groves of Russian Olive, cottonwood, and oak stands.
The expedition will base of out Page, AZ, where one can find sleeping accommodations for Friday night prior to the expedition, and Saturday night. Optionally, a small group will camp nearby to Piute Canyon. The field will be cold and all participants must be prepared for freezing temperatures. Please contact expedition leaders to register.
Friday: Expedition Leaders and participants arrive in Page in afternoon/evening and check-in to lodging. Optional dinner/ expedition discussion that night (contact leaders for details).
Saturday: Expedition departs at 5:30 a.m., carpooling approximately 1.5 hours to Piute Canyon, arriving via Indian Rte 16. Expedition commences surveying, possibly splitting into teams to maximize coverage of the area, and depending on number of participants/vehicles. Expedition continues through morning and into the afternoon. Carpool back to Page. Expedition participants return home or stay the night in Page to participate in Sunday’s exploration.
OPTIONAL: A small team will remain in the vicinity of Piute Canyon and camp in the field. Cold weather camping gear is absolutely required. Owling in the evening and continued exploration of Piute Canyon the following morning, returning to Page Sunday afternoon. Note additional things to know and bring, below.
Sunday: Page exploration departs at 6:30 for several local areas of interest, including the sewage treatment plant, Lake Powell, a couple of golf courses, and perhaps Lees Ferry. Expedition returns to parking area in the afternoon.
Things to know and bring:
NOTE: THIS EXPEDITION IS PLANNING FOR COLD WEATHER
Carpooling and Parking
If you would like to carpool to Page, please inform the expedition leaders. During the expedition parking will be available at Safeway, on the on the corner of Elm St. and S Lake Powell Blvd. Please do not leave valuable items in your vehicle.
If you have a high clearance 4WD vehicle you are willing to use for this expedition please notify leaders.
Depending on the number of participants, there may some light-moderate hiking involved in one or more teams. Please come prepared with appropriate day-hiking gear, including a backpack, layers, and raingear.
Precipitation in this region is generally low but occurs mostly in winter. As such participants need to be prepared for rain. December brings freezing temperatures so please dress accordingly.
If Camping: It will be cold. Tents and cold-weather sleeping bags/insulated sleeping pads are required.
Food and Water
Participants need to provide their own food and water. Be sure to plan for at least breakfast, lunch, and snacks in the field on Saturday. Bring 1.5-3 liters of capacity for water.
If Camping: In addition to the above, you will need to plan for dinner on Saturday, breakfast and lunch on Sunday, as well as another 1.5-3 liters of water, totaling 3-6 liters for Saturday and Sunday.
Participants should bring what they need to be comfortable for a full day in the field. This might include the following: binoculars, spotting scope/tripod, field guide/phone, camera, hat, sunscreen, layers, raingear, daypack, hiking shoes that support the ankles, food, and water.
If Camping: In addition to the above you will need a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, hat, gloves, flashlight, toiletries, etc.
“No Trace” practices are encouraged when in areas without toilets. Please bring your own toilet paper.