A couple of weeks ago, Tony and I spent a lovely day in Apache Junction. I found my target bird, a Western Meadowlark, at Prospector Park, pretty quickly. Such big, handsome birds.
There were a few other pretty birds there:
Gambel’s Quail, male
Vermillion Flycatcher, male
House Finch, male
We were already almost there so we went on to my new favorite park, Lost Dutchman State Park, in the Superstition Mountains. It was gorgeous!
Although I didn’t spot any lifers there, I was able to get my best ever shots of these plentiful Phainopeplas, striking birds with red eyes.
And no visit to Apache Junction is complete without a stop at the Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel, a movie memorabilia museum showing the movies that were filmed at Apacheland, including Charro, starring Elvis.
Bald Eagle, immature
This is either Hope or Joy, one of 2 Bald Eagles hatched in a nest in a Scottsdale golf course last spring (in a densely populated area). They were well-known locally then and each of them fell from their nest as nestlings and were placed back in by Arizona Game and Fish and Liberty Wildlife rehabbers. You can read their story and see them as babies here and here. I never saw them last year as their exact location was a secret, for their safety.
Anyway, I was at Lake Marguerite, which isn’t far from that golf course, a couple times recently looking for a Hairy Woodpecker and the second time I looked up and Hope or Joy was watching me! It’s always exciting to see a bald eagle, I think, and he/she took off right as I watched, zipped over the lake, swooped down, grabbed a fish, and flew off right by me. And I even saw the Hairy Woodpecker (which was my 12th lifer this year) but the photo is basically a black and white blur so I won’t show it here. However, I got a couple shots of this girl:
Ladder-backed Woodpecker, female
I was also at Granada Park recently, my old standby park that I don’t visit much anymore, and I was surprised to see this beautiful guy watching me from the trees. While not a lifer, it was the best shots I’ve ever gotten of one.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s
And when I was recently volunteering at the Desert Botanical Garden, I walked around afterwards and saw a few more critters.
Gila Woodpecker, male
Costa’s Hummingbird, male
Costa’s hummingbird, female
Now that Tony and I are both retired, we’re trying to get out and go to places in our area and state that we’ve never seen before (and I’m always trying to find new birds). Maybe every state is this way, but Arizona has a ton of city, county, state, and national parks.
Last week we went to Cave Creek Regional Park. We stopped at the Nature Center and the staff suggested we check out the “Michelin Man” saguaro so we hiked an easy trail and found it.
Pretty amazing compared to the other saguaros. I’d like to see this in a couple months when the saguaros are blooming.
It’s a very nice park with hikers, bikers, and horseback riders but not very birdy so we went to a nearby riparian area known as Jewel of the Creek Preserve. “The Jewel of the Creek is a desert oasis filled with towering cottonwood and willow trees along Cave Creek, at the northern edge of the Town of Cave Creek and bordering the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. This property holds one of the last remaining perennial streams in Maricopa County. The unusual year-round presence of water supports a myriad of plant and animal species.”
Every time I see one of these signs, it never bodes well for birding and it didn’t. This is a beautiful, lush place, though, along the banks of Cave Creek. The hike, which was listed as “moderate” was awful. I just don’t enjoy clambering over giant rocks and logs for almost 3 miles and I was pretty sure my camera was going to be smashed before the end. It wasn’t. 🙂
But everything was glowing in the late afternoon light…
I didn’t take many photos when we were down along the banks, fighting to survive. These were all taken when we were safely up and almost done with the hike.
A lovely place that I probably won’t be going to again…