Category Archives: Phoenix

Expert Birders

Sveng and Bird Books

I share an interest with our cats, maybe on a slightly different level, but we do have a common pastime. Meet the Birding Team:

Cats x 9

The indoor researchers: Marbles, Google, Jessi, in the top row, left to right, and the field team: Ebony, Ivory, and Edie (the Triplets), in the 2nd row, and Svengali, Stripey Laurie, and Winky, in the 3rd row. Click on photo to see how exceptionally cute they all are.

Here are some birds I’ve seen in this last week since returning to sunny Phoenix, in my yard, my ‘hood, Papago Park, the Franciscan Renewal Center, and a small lake at a nearby office complex.

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

CW Casa

Cactus Wren

Canada Goose Flying

Canada Goose

Green Heron 2

Green Heron


Mallard Hybrid (I think)


American Wigeon


Northern Mockingbird

GC Casa

Gambel’s Quail


Anna’s Hummingbird

Birdwalk at the DBG

Finch Praying

To go with my praying Mockingbird in my last post, here is a female House Finch in prayer at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Gila Woodpeckers

Every Monday they have a birdwalk there but I’m usually at work. Last Monday I was off so I went. It was kind of a slow bird day, in my opinion, as I often see more in my own yard but a few made an appearance. Those are Gila Woodpeckers, above.


This is a Curve-Billed Thrasher which is in the same songbird family as Mockingbirds (Mimidae).

Curve-Billed Thrasher

You can see the similarity:



Cactus Wren 2

Our state bird, the Cactus Wren.

Spiny Lizard 2

And, of course, we saw a few non-birds like this Spiny Lizard.


From afar, I saw a Gilded Woodpecker.

American Wigeon 1

When I left the DBG, I stopped in at the Papago Park ponds close by and saw this American Wigeon, above, as well as a colorful Common Gallinule showing off.

Common Gallinule 2

Common Gallinule

Grackle and Catch

Nature is harsh sometimes as when a pretty dragonfly gets gobbled up by a happy Grackle.  :( That’s the way it goes, I guess.

I also saw a Great Horned Owl up in a tree, far away, facing the other direction, so I’m not sure that counts on my birding list.

Fall Comes…


…slowly to the desert but it’s beginning to happen…despite our continuing  heat…



Nest at DBG_edited-1


Bees at DBG

Southern Dogface 9.21.14

Cloudless Sulphur in my yard, above.


This is a Southern Dogface, above, photographed on September 21, 2014. The only other time I photographed one was exactly one year ago on 9.21.13, same bunch of lantana in our yard. I guess s/he is the true harbinger of autumn in my yard.

Edit: Apparently it’s not a Southern Dogface, it’s a Sleepy Orange so that shoots my cool story. I guess I have to change it to “a member of the Sulphur family of butterflies is the harbinger of autumn here.”

Skip 9.21.14

Fiery Skipper, above and below. I’m very grateful to the people who lived in our house before we moved in 20 years ago (this month) because they planted lantana all over the place! Little did I know it would become the focal point of so many of my photos. Our yard would be a lonely place without it.

DSC_5603 crop



So all the above Queen butterfly photos were taken at the Desert Botanical Garden last week and then, lo and behold, I went outside this weekend and there in our lantana was another Queen. We have tons of b-flies in our yard but never a Queen before so here’s a few more of my personal Queen. Butterflies looove lantana.







Happy Autumn Equinox!

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Papago Park

Blue Dfly

2 Dflies 2

Roseate Skimmer

Dashers and Darners and Skimmers, oh, my! These photos are from a couple of visits to Papago Park last weekend. Papago Park is where The Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden are located. Its 1500 acres (mostly located in Phoenix but a smaller section in Tempe) also include Hole in the Rock, the first governor of Arizona’s tomb, sandstone buttes, hiking trails, a golf course, and 6 acres of stocked ponds. The ponds are where all this action took place. (Click photos for more detail.)

Duck Drink



Pied-Billed Grebe

Pied-Billed Grebe

American Coot

American Coot

Mallard Fly



Red-Eared Slider

Red-Eared Slider

Longview 2

Blue Dasher


Flame Skimmer

And, yes, there were colorful dragonflies everywhere!


And the star of the ponds, for me, was this Green Heron, not quite an adult but almost there. While I find Blue Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets, and Black-Crowned Night Herons pretty often, the Green Herons have eluded me (although I did get one a few weeks ago in shadow).



Such a handsome little guy…These ponds attract a lot of wildlife and aren’t too far from where I live so I’ll be heading back there soon…

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Tres Ríos


I’ve found my new favorite place in town: Tres Rios Overbank Wetlands. Tres Rios is 480 acres of constructed emergent wetlands at the confluence of the Salt, Gila, and Agua Fria Rivers in far west Phoenix. Built by the Army Corps of Engineers, the primary goals are flood protection for the local residents and habitat restoration for native animals. The water source for Tres Rios is highly treated effluent from the City of Phoenix’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. All the plants are native to Arizona. You can read more about Tres Rios here.


I have far more photos in this post than I normally do so I’ll try not to write much. Someday this area will have ramadas and restrooms and be open to the public but right now it is (easily-obtained) permit only. Tony and I were the only humans there last Sunday. I can’t wait to go back when it’s cooler and full of even more birds and wildlife. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Nests in Tree

These are Great Blue Heron nests!

Nests Close

GBH Barb

And speaking of GBHs, there are a lot of them there. They like the marshy areas but they kept flying off and going into the inaccessible-to-humans pond areas when they saw us.


Tony took this photo, above, I love it! The GBH looks almost prehistoric here.


Cattails Close

Common Gallinule

Common Gallinule, above.

Cormorant Flock

Flock of Neotropic Cormorants.

Cormorant Fly


G Egret

Great Egret in the marsh.

Dead Tree and Mtns

Cove Longshot_edited-1

Lilies and Reeds

Osprey Fish

I didn’t know the Osprey had a fish until I looked at the photo later (not very sharp). Another one, below, is enjoying his fish in the tree.

Osprey Tree Fish

Ibis Flock

White-Faced Ibis, above and below. The 300mm lens is beginning to seem too puny. (You can see their curved bills by clicking on the photos.)

Ibis Redo

S Egret

Snowy Egret fishing.


Marsh 2

Marsh 3

On the other side of the fence in this photo, above, are the inaccessible ponds.

Mexican Amberwing Dfly 3

These Mexican Amberwings were everywhere, sparkling in the sunlight, and they’re tiny, about an inch long, at most.

Reeds and Water


Hawk Fly




Wings 4


Rushing Water

TV 4

I think this photo, above, and the next 4, below, is of a Turkey Vulture. They are plentiful at Tres Rios but some of these may be hawks also.

TV Fly 2

TV Fly 3_edited-1

TV Fly 4

TV Fly



Unidentified Birds_edited-1

Pinkish Bird

I have no clue what the birds in the above 3 photos are. I do have 2 birding field guides ordered so I can get good at this stuff. If you have a guess, please tell me.

Longview 2

This place is just stunningly beautiful to me…I can’t wait to go back. It’s the best riparian location I’ve been. Blue skies, mountains, water, birds and other wildlife, it’s awesome!

Bubbling Water

Here’s an aerial view of Tres Rios. Most of those ponds are inaccessible to humans but there is still a huge area that is accessible. (Credit for below photo here.)

Tres Rios Aerial

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If, after all that, you would like to see how Tres Rios works, here is a video: