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When driving from Arches National Park to Capital Reef National Park Goblin Valley State Park offers a break in the trip and a chance to walk through some very strange rock formations. The day we were there the place was packed and we managed to get one of the last parking spots. The first photo provides an overview of the area. If you look closely you can find over 40 people in the photo. One of the games you can play with kids is to try and identify what the rock formations look like.

More photos from Goblin Valley can be found on my website.

I took my macro lens out for a walk around the farm this week. These are a few of the things I found to Photograph.

Common Blue Violet

Maple Leaves

Large-flowered Trillium

Spotted Ladybird Beetle

Grass

Pussytoes

Large-flowered Bellwort

This spring two birds have turned up at my feeders that I have never seen on the farm before. The firs photo is of an Eastern Toehee. When it first turned up I thought the Baltimore Orioles had returned but I was wrong. A pair of Toehees spend their time feeding on the ground and running from under the feeder to a bush that provides shelter. The second bird is the Yellow-rumped Warbler which also turned up a few weeks ago. There are a number of them and they seem to like to feed on the suet.

A bird that I have not seen for several years also turned up at the feeder last week. The Red-breasted Nuthatch used to frequent my feeders and finally returned after an absence.

I still have lots of White-throated Sparrows around. Fortunately they are ground feeders and seem to do a good job cleaning up under the feeders.

Last week the male Rose-breasted GrosbeaksĀ  returned. I have not yet seen the females. The only spring birds that have not returned are the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and the Baltimore Orioles.

Rose-breasted Grosebeak

Island in the Sky is an island in Canyonlands National Park. It is a mesa that sits over a 1,000 feet above the surrounding land. It has nice paved roads to the major overlook points. In the old days ranchers ran cattle on the land. It was easy because access to the Island is via a small neck of land only 20 feet wide. Put the cattle on the island and fence off the neck and they were in business. The views from Island in the Sky are spectacular.

More photos from Island in the Sky can be found on my website.

After our short hike to the top of Whale Rock we continued down the road to the Upheaval Dome trailhead. We managed to grab the last parking spot in the picnic area. This turned out to be a little more strenuous as hikes go but it had some great views and some challenges. At one point I got lost and headed out on what appeared to be the trail but as usual my wife was right I was going the wrong way. We seemed to be leapfrogging a tour group. They were on Whale Rock and they followed us up to Upheaval Dome.

We had planned more hiking in Island in the Sky but parking was an issue. When we left Upheaval Dome the picnic area was full as was the overflow parking lot and people were still pulling in. We found that all of the parking spots were taken at the trailheads. We drove around a bit but nothing freed up so we headed out to our next destination.

More photos from Island in the Sky can be found on my website.

After leaving Moab we drove over to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park. Our first hike of the day was to the top of Whale Rock. On some of the hiking books it showed folks walking up the rock holding on to a fixed line and we wondered it this might be a little too strenuous. As it turned out it was an easy hike offering some great views of the surrounding countryside.

More photos from Island in the Sky can be found on my website.

More photos from Arches National Park can be found on my website.

I can’t help but think this is the parks salute to our so called president.

This is one of of my favorite shots. Balanced Rock with a dark sky in the background.

A piece of wood found along the trail.

A view from the Primitive Trail overlooking the Park.

View from the trail to Pine Tree Arch.

Park Avenue is one of the first turnouts when entering the park.

Indian Paintbrush was one of the few flowers blooming in the park.

Fiery Furnace is one of the great hikes in the park. Unfortunately the park did not have staff available for tours.

View from the Broken Arch Trail.

This Raven was waiting for us at the car as we were preparing to leave the Park.

The two geese nesting on the first pond are still nesting. There was one big change. On our last visit the pond was full of water and the small island where the geese normally nest was covered so they nested on shore. Today we found that the pond has lost several feet of water and part of the island was visible. Not sure what happened but I suspect a Muskrat dug a tunnel and let some of the water out. One bird was on the nest and the other bird was stationed on the emerging island.

On the second pond we found a pair of geese with their young.

Lots of Yellow-rumpted Warblers flying around today. We seem to be seeing them everywhere.

The Prairie Smoke is still just starting to come up although the warm weather should help.

Photos from a walk along the Red Cedar State Trail.

Bloodroot

Pussy Willow

Marsh Marigolds

Sandhill Crane

Cattail

Wild Geranium

We recently spent a morning driving around Crex Meadows. During a stop at the visitors center we found that several eagles had been spotted earlier in the morning. We were lucky to find they were still hanging around. This one was sitting by the nest. A little later in the morning we noticed it was hunting on Phantom Lake. When it caught a fish it went back to the nest were we were able to watch it feeding its young.

Bald Eagle

We did not spot many Sandhill Cranes. This one was near the road. I suspect most of the others were nesting deeper in the marshes.

We could see Trumpeter Swans nesting but they were all quite some distance from the road. We did encounter three non nesting swans in a small pool.

We found this pair of Ring-necked Ducks in a small pond.

Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds around the area.

The muskrats were very active throughout the flowages.

We noticed this Killdeer ahead of us so we stopped. It was very accommodating and walked right up to us and posed for photos.

The marsh grass provided some interesting patterns. In the second photo the area had recently been burned providing for a variety of colors as it started to grow again.

The Lily Pads were starting to grow now that the ice is off of the flowages.