Day 2: Their first camp morning:
“At first light, probably around 5 AM, the dawn chorus was intense. A perfect, quiet and chilly morning in ideal riparian forest allowed the bird songs to absolutely fill the air. Breakfast was enjoyed on our “porch”, the sun warming our bodies and the surrounding air. A lone pelican drifted into view, taking off from being startled by our proximity, even though we sat motionless. A white-tailed deer tiptoed in the forest behind us.
Our morning paddle was in still air under a perfect prairie sky, dotted with summer clouds. American goldfinches chittering made a continual auditory backdrop, as did Least flycatchers, Rock wrens, Bank and Tree swallows. I was scanning a ridge in the near distance, and spotted a coyote sniffing in some bushes. Within moments he had noticed us, and when he ran, two more appeared. They scampered with ease up the steep prairie sage-covered cliffs, disappearing in moments. Three Turkey vultures passed overhead, following the escarpment and no doubt getting a lift from the up-drafts, and a bald eagle was observed being dive-bombed by a Red-tailed hawk. Ring-necked pheasants called now and again.
We took a hiking break mid-morning, and spent half an hour exploring the complex terrain. Small cliffs appeared to have separated recently from the native prairie, eroded by the river. Ridges of prickly-pear cactus were abundant, but one ball cactus (Mammalaria) was seen flowering in amongst the thick prairie grass.
Our camp was perched looking across at some excellent badlands, an indication of what was to come. We set up under some towering cottonwoods.
In the grasslands behind us, we found a bird nest on the ground (pipit?) with 5 little eggs under a sage bush, Lark sparrow and a male Lazuli bunting singing!!!
Kilometres today: 23. We called this camp ‘Lazuli Camp.'”