Spring Heads Into Summer

Painted Lady 4.13Painted Lady

Bee Green EyesLeafcutter Bee

Fiery Skipper 4.12Fiery Skipper (with Green Bottle Fly)

Checkered SkipperCheckered-Skipper

Once again, the lantana is pulling the butterflies, bees, and flies into its sweet nectar. It totally froze this winter, turned black, and then came back to life again! Lantana is hearty.

So, sadly, my winter visitor birds have now moved on to their summer homes. Hope they come back next year! Especially my favorite, “Tink,” below:

OCWA New Branch 4.6Orange-crowned Warbler

YRWA 3.25Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, male (“Chatty”)

YRWA F 3.15Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, female (“Shy Girl”)

But, in return, the only migrator I saw~so far~in my yard was a Plumbeous Vireo and I didn’t get a photo because it left right away. But it as well as the following bird made my Yard Bird species count jump to 47:

Gambel's Quail YardGambel’s Quail

These quail are normally in desert areas, not crowded urban areas like where we live. I strongly discouraged this guy from settling in as quail spend so much time on the ground and lay their eggs on the ground. There are way too many cats for that to have a good outcome. So after 2 days of me shooing him off, he disappeared. I hope he got out of our cat-friendly neighborhood fast.

So we are now back to the year-round regulars:

Thrasher 3.5

Thrasher Discussion

Thrasher BabyCurve-billed Thrashers (above photo is a juvenile)

Towhee Nuts 4.6Abert’s Towhee (gathering nuts to take back to the nest)

Mock Mulberry_edited-1

Mock with BflyNorthern Mockingbirds (gathering food for nestlings)

House Finch, male and Lesser Goldfinch, female

Mourning Doves

Eurasian Collared-Dove and White-winged Dove

Gila 2.6Gila Woodpecker, male

Verdin 4.7Verdin

Starling OrangeEuropean Starling (bashing an orange)

And, of course, we have House Sparrows, too. Who doesn’t? Now we are settling in for another long, hot summer here in Phoenix.

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Reach 11 Nature Trail

Roadrunner_edited-1Greater Roadrunner with lunch

Reach 11, in north Phoenix, is part of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department but it exists for flood control. A 7-mile long earthen dam keeps flood waters out of the nearby canal and out of housing developments to the south. The area where the nature trails are is only about 1 mile wide. Amazingly, this place is not well-known at all. I only heard about it from some birders recently. Driving down the busy street where the entrance is, one would never know what a beautiful place it is. Someone described it as a “hidden gem,” and it really is. From the street it just looks like desert scrub.

This poor, old, decrepit saguaro is at the beginning of the trail. We saw a bird fly into it so stopped to watch.

Saguaro R11

Who’s that?

Gila in Cactus 1

Gila in Hole_edited-1

It’s a male Gila Woodpecker. There must be a nest in there.

Gila Bill in Hole_edited-1

He was kind of shy. But then we saw more action…

Starling in Hole_edited-1

A European Starling. It had a nest in one of the center holes and kept flying in and out with food. We could hear babies chirping every time a delivery was made.

Then we saw someone else fly in the other side…

Flicker on Cactus_edited-1

A Gilded Flicker (male) seems to have a nest, too…

Flicker Butt in Hole_edited-1

Flicker in Hole_edited-1

We stayed on the trail and didn’t disrupt the nesters but I’m sure they were pleased we left. We also saw another Starling head into a hole in the back so this saguaro is home to at least 4 different nests now. Who knows what else might be living in there? The wind was really blowing hard and gusting while we were there so I hope when that poor saguaro falls that there are no nests left.

After we walked a little more, we started to see the “hidden gem” part of this area. It was very lush back in there, all sorts of grasses, wildflowers, etc.

Wild Plants

Thru the Trees

There was a mesquite bosque and a little hidden pond in there, full of tadpoles, called Bullfrog Pond. It was really peaceful and pretty. No one was around but one biker.

Pond 1

Tree Tunnel

Globe MallowGlobe Mallow

LizardCommon Side-blotched Lizard

BTGCBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher

Hummer R11Anna’s Hummingbird

I know this place is teeming with birds and other wildlife but it was so windy that day that the birds were having a hard time staying airborne. It’s definitely a place we will return to as it’s only about 20 minutes from our house and very unique.

*The reason this recreation area is called “Reach 11” is because it’s on the 11th reach of the Central Arizona Project canal. Across the street from the nature trail is a huge sports complex with 20 soccer fields, an equestrian area, and more.

 

Lake Pleasant

Burros 2

Burro Tracker

Burros Running

Burros Cavorting

Burros in Field

Burro 1

Burro 2_edited-1

Burro in Field

Burros 4

We went to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, northwest of Phoenix, last week. What I mostly wanted to see were the wild burros and we did! The herd is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and there are anywhere from 480-600 from what I’ve read. They are descendants of burros brought over from South Africa in the 1600s. 100 wild burros (jacks) were freeze marked and 55 jennies (female burros) were radio collared to help study and monitor the herd. Some are removed at times and put up for adoption while living and being cared for at a BLM facility. You can read more about this program here.

WB Trail Sign

This is the trail we hiked to try to find them. We didn’t see any there but, fortunately, we saw them even before we started hiking. It was extra nice to see them with some wildflowers around; they looked especially cute frolicking through the flowers.

And we actually saw a few birds!

Say's Phoebe

Say's Phoebe on Flowers_edited-1Say’s Phoebes

Rock Wren

Rock Wren Singing

Rock Wren Ocotillo

Rock Wren in BranchesRock Wrens

Red-winged Blackbird FRed-winged Blackbird (female)

Black-tailed GnatcatcherBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher (at least the flowers are in focus)

And a few other critters crossed our path:

Painted LadyPainted Lady Butterfly

Checkered White ButterflyCheckered White Butterfly

Common Side-blotched LizardCommon Side-blotched Lizard (check out his tongue!)

And we saw the lake, too, of course! This is a lake I used to go sailing on back in the mid-1980s…all the time…almost every weekend for 3-4 years. Since then it has been enlarged a lot so it didn’t really look at all familiar. The lake now covers 10,000 acres and is fed by the Central Arizona Project Aqueduct which diverts water from the Colorado River as well as the Agua Fria River. It was pretty cloudy when we were there and not many boats were on the lake.

Dam

Dam ControllerNew Waddell Dam

Waddell Dam

The new dam submerged the older, much smaller dam.

Lake View_edited-1

Lake View 2

Panorama x 4_edited-1

This is a 4 shot panorama of the lake. You can see a larger version of it on my Flickr. It was fascinating to see how the lake has changed, I loved everything we saw.

RoseGlobe Mallow

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