Usery Mountain and Red Mountain

Red-tailed Hawk on Saguaro

We’ve been fortunate to have some cool days in Phoenix lately, before the true summer heat begins, so last week we took a local trip about 30 miles away to Usery Mountain Regional Park (a county park). It was very pretty. We made another stop first that I didn’t care for as much so I’ll put that at the end of this post…

I was glad to finally see this sign above. It has been around since the 1950s (although I’ve also heard it was already present during WWII) when a Boy Scout troop built it to help direct pilots to the Phoenix airport, 20 miles west. It’s made of rocks from Usery Mountain: each letter is about 100 feet high and 12 feet wide. The sign is 1,000 feet across and it took 5.5 years to assemble. More on this marker here.

Pass Mountain

Viewing Pond

This little pond and waterfall draws wildlife in for drinks and baths.

House Finches, male and female

Gambel’s Quail

Curve-billed Thrasher on Saguaro

Lesser Goldfinch

The Nature Center at the park had feeders set up behind it. I always appreciate feeders to draw birds in. No lifers but lifers aren’t everything…I guess.

This is the view looking south toward Apache Junction.

Our original destination that day was Red Mountain Park in east Mesa, where we went first. We had heard they have a wetlands area. Well, sort of, but not really. This park did not thrill me at all. I’m sure it’s nice for a city park if you live close by but it wasn’t worth the drive (to us).

The place was dominated by grackles and doves. We saw a few other birds but they’re the sort of birds we see at most of the ponds and lakes around town.

Canada Goose gosling

Cooper’s Hawk

Pied-billed Grebes, adult and immature

Western Wood-Pewee

Brown-headed Cowbird

Snow Goose

The highlight of that park was seeing this Snow Goose, which should really not be in the area and shows up on the rare bird alert regularly. It must either like it there or it can’t fly although it certainly looked fine. I’ve seen a migrating flock of these before but never one up close like this. It is a handsome bird.

Oh, the very first shot of the hawk on the saguaro? It cost me $24. I took it from the side of the road and laid my lens cap on my car. Hours later I remembered. It’s a big cap, 95mm. The replacement just arrived now.

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5 responses to “Usery Mountain and Red Mountain

  1. All of the place names in your posts bring back a flood of memories and good ones. I enjoy them. As for the Red-tail photo… that’s at least a $24 photo!

  2. Oh no, Candace! I am sorry about your lens cap.
    If it helps any, I have done that more than once. 😦
    These photographs are wonderful.
    It’s hard to imagine what went into constructing the Phoenix marker.
    I just love that little Canada Goose! So sweet.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Seattle Park Lover

    I chuckled in sympathy about the lens cap. I try to make sure I either leave it in my bag in the car or put it in my pocket. I’ve learned that my thinking “I’ll remember if I put it there” rarely works out, whether we’re talking about camera accessories or my keys. Thought my lens hood was a gonner for two weeks recently, then discovered it tucked away in the passenger side footwell of my car.

  4. You visited some interesiing places while it was a bit cooler. Too bad the lake was disappoiintment. You won’t need to return there. A very good post.

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