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.
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!
Red-winged Blackbird (female)
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (at least the flowers are in focus)
And a few other critters crossed our path:
Painted Lady Butterfly
Checkered White Butterfly
Common 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.
New Waddell Dam
The new dam submerged the older, much smaller dam.
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.
It’s spring in the desert! We went to Bartlett Lake to see the wildflowers that everyone has been raving about. With all the rain we’ve had, it’s supposed to be a great year for them and it was really beautiful: the lake and the wildflowers. It was a perfect day, temperatures in the 60s, deep blue skies, and wispy clouds.
Bartlett Lake is a reservoir that was formed by the damming of the Verde River, completed in 1939.
We could even see snow-covered Four Peaks in the distance.
This is the Yellow Cliffs area:
The rocks of the cliffs take on their yellow coloration due to an extensive colony of yellow “crustose” lichen.
We saw quite a few people taking photos of the wildflowers but the lake itself was very quiet. One of the best things about being retired is being able to go places during the week and avoiding the crowds. We didn’t even see any ducks or other water birds.
Mexican Poppies and Lupines
The white poppies are rarer.
You can barely see snow-covered Mt. Ord in the distance, above, but this is it closer, below. You can see all the towers on top.
All-in-all, it was a very nice day.
Isn’t he/she gorgeous? We went to another of Maricopa County’s Regional Parks the other day. It was a gloomy, cloudy day and the park left a lot to be desired. It was definitely the least attractive of all the county parks we’ve visited. This hawk was really the only redeeming factor for me.
We saw a Red-tailed Hawk 3 different times while there so I don’t know if this is the same one as the first 2 photos. The one in the first 2 photos was a very cooperative poser and there was even a little sun by then so it was a great photo op. Thank you, Hawk.
Everything else was pretty mediocre. I had a couple of target birds but we didn’t see them…
Not a park I would go to again but we did get a free pass to go to another county park so it kind of evened out.
Valentine’s Day is also Arizona Statehood Day. This is a very big saguaro superimposed on a 1912 map. Happy 107th Birthday, Arizona!
This is the third time we’ve been to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale. It is comprised of 30,500 acres of Sonoran Desert, 7 trailheads, and over 200 miles of trails. This particular trailhead, Gateway, is the closest to town and it was very busy on a weekday afternoon last week. The trails were also very rocky so it was hard to look up while walking with cameras. Basically, it’s not a place that we would go to again but I’m sure many people love it…since there were a ton of them there. Nevertheless, it was still pretty…
Birds, none for most of the trail until we got towards the end…
These are the other trailheads we’ve been to which were farther north, away from the city, and with nicer trails, more dramatic scenery, and better mountain views: Brown’s Ranch Trailhead and Granite Mountain Trailhead. Next time we’ll go to the trails that are farther north again…
We went looking for birds and stuff on Butcher Jones Trail at Saguaro Lake last week. It was supposed to be birdy. As usual, it wasn’t but it was nice anyway.
We saw more butterflies than I’ve ever seen in one place, many groups of several.
Southern Dogface (open wings) and other Sulphurs
Empress Leilia (a first)
Clark’s Grebe (lifer)
We saw this well-known guy with one foot in exactly the same place we saw him last November.
Great Blue Heron
More of the trail:
We briefly stopped at Coon Bluff Recreation Area on the Lower Salt River on the way back, hoping to see some eagles, wild horses, something, but no luck. It was a pretty view, though, and the fall colors were beginning so it was worth the stop.
And now we’re on to December…