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.

 

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Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

Glowing Cholla 3

Glowing Cholla PSP

Glowing Cholla 2

Longshot

Much like the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve, located in North Phoenix, has over 18,000 acres of beautiful desert views including 36 miles of exciting multi-use trails. The wildflowers were just beginning to bloom but the tons of Chollas were glowing in the sun.

We were at the Apache Wash Trailhead where a mountain biker crashed into a rattlesnake that same day and was bit. We did see an ambulance but didn’t know about this until seeing it on the news that night. It’s rattler season.

BTSP Gathering 2 PSP

BTSP 3

BTSP Gathering PSPBlack-throated Sparrows

The female Black-throated Sparrow is the nest builder (you can see her gathered materials in her bill) and a breeding pair is very territorial so the one on the nearby cactus must have been her mate.

CW PSP

Cactus Wren 3 SagCactus Wrens, Arizona’s State Bird

These two were also together so I imagine they are mates, too.

Painted Lady PSPPainted Lady Butterfly

Mexican Poppy PSPMexican Poppy

Purple FlowersScorpion Weed

Purple Wildflower

BrittlebushBrittlebush

Rock

Longshot 2

Another Longshot

There were really pretty views here.

Fat Sag PSPA perfect plump Saguaro after all our rain

4 Peaks in Distance

It was hazy but in the distance, we could see Four Peaks, 42 miles away, as the crow flies, still covered with the recent snow.

The day before, we drove around trying to get a good view of Four Peaks with the snow, away from houses and buildings. This was taken somewhere north of Fountain Hills…

4 Peaks 1

It’s been in the 80s the last couple of days; the snow has all melted. Spring is coming to the desert.

An Assortment

roadrunnerlong_edited-1

roadrunnerGreater Roadrunner

yrwabathingYellow-Rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

verdinVerdin

Those photos were taken at Desert Botanical Garden a couple weeks ago when I took a friend there.

Tony and I have not gone on one of our day trips for a few weeks now but we went over to Granada Park the other day, which was a dreary day, and saw these birds:

vf1

vf2Vermilion Flycatcher (first I’ve seen in central Phoenix area)

rndufemaleRing-necked Duck, female

wcspimmWhite-crowned Sparrow, first winter

giwogranadaGila Woodpecker

And then the yard birds…

bbhu1.26Broad-billed Hummingbird, female (Yard Bird #46)

She was a new yard bird! And a rare bird for the area! I reported her on eBird and it was confirmed. These birds normally don’t come much further north than southeastern Arizona although a few others have been reported in our area this winter. I would so love a male to show up because this is what they look like (we saw this one in Madera Canyon earlier this year):

BBHU_edited-1

Aren’t they gorgeous? Of course, all hummingbirds are beautiful. The one below is an Anna’s female, you can see how different she looks from the Broad-billed female.

anna27sgirl1.26

gilawp1.26Gila Woodpecker, male

mock1.26Northern Mockingbird

yrwa1.26Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

I saw this guy a few weeks ago and then he disappeared. Now I saw another one in our yard the other day by itself so don’t know if the same one returned:

wcspfos2

wcspfosWhite-crowned Sparrow

And then my very favorite yard bird, Tink, was kind enough to pose away from the feeders the other day:

ocwa11.26

ocwa31.26

ocwa41.26

An amazing thing happened just before I took these photos. A hawk (Sharp-shinned, I think, but I didn’t get a photo) crashed through the mesquite tree where the feeders are looking for a snack, I guess. I know they need to eat but I was pleased it came out empty-taloned. It then landed on my neighbor’s garage while I ran in to get the camera and it took off just as I tried to get a shot. I really hope it gets its meals somewhere other than our yard…so does Tink.

ocwa21.26Orange-crowned Warbler

2019 Begins…

prickly pear

prickly pear 2

We went for a late afternoon walk around Desert Botanical Garden the other day. We had some really cold days here and, with the holidays and all, we haven’t been on one of our day trips for about a month so we have to get back on the road again soon. Meanwhile…

butte

I thought the birds would be a little more active. We did see a lot of quail, doves, starlings but I didn’t take photos of them. We also saw a cute little wren that I would have liked to get a photo of to identify it but it wasn’t cooperative.

costa's female_edited-1

costa's female 2_edited-1Anna’s or Costa’s Hummingbird, female

flora

There were very few butterflies. I imagine many froze during the cold snap. ūüė¶

queen bflyQueen Butterfly

verdin_edited-1Verdin

square square

cactus wrenCactus Wren

rose

cactus

Being at the Garden reminded me that I didn’t meet any of my goals for 2018! I had similar goals for 2017 and met them all but 2018 was different. Spending 5 weeks in Indiana unexpectedly threw me off for the whole year. When I got back, I couldn’t get back into the swing for quite awhile, one of my cats got very sick, and then the summer was so hot that I just decided I would chuck my 2018 goals:

  1. Volunteer 100 hours at Desert Botanical Garden. Not even close (compared to 102.75 in 2017).
  2. Find 50 new Lifers (new birds). Found 36 (compared to 58 in 2017).
  3. Go on many AZ day trips with Tony. Went on 16 (compared to 23 in 2017).

I¬†also went to a few parks on my own and a few expeditions with my birding friend, Karen, plus I went to a couple places back in Indiana so I did see many pretty sights, gorgeous birds, and other wildlife so I can’t really complain. But I’ve decided not to be too specific in my 2019 goals:

  1. Maybe volunteer at Desert Botanical Garden, maybe not. Maybe elsewhere, maybe not.
  2. Find some new birds.
  3. Go on as many day trips with Tony as we can.
  4. Take as many photos as I can.

These were my first bird photos of 2019. It was cloudy, cold, and rainy so they were from my yard only. The hummers were all fluffed up.

anna's 010119_edited-1

anna's 1.1_edited-2Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Hope your year is off to a good start and that you have many exciting goals…or no goals…but fun times ahead.

 

Back to Granada

Canvasback 1

Canvasback 2

Canvasback 4

2 CanvasbacksCanvasback drakes meeting Mallard couple

They’re diving ducks:

Canvasback Diving

I hadn’t seen a Canvasback duck for a couple of years so it was fun to see two handsome drakes when I went to Granada Park, a Phoenix city park, the other day. Through part of 2014 and all of 2015 and 2016, I went to Granada Park about once a week and saw a lot of cool birds there. Starting in 2017, I quit finding new birds and it was kind of boring so I didn’t go much in 2017 and this is only the second time this year that I’ve gone. It was nice to be back on a crisp day. I didn’t see any new birds but it was still fun to see who may be spending the winter. Plenty of the following ducks were there:

RNDU 2Ring-necked Duck

Wigeon 2

WigeonAmerican Wigeons, males

Grackle FemaleGreat-tailed Grackle, female

Gilded Flicker_edited-1

Flicker 1

Gilded Flicker 3Northern Flicker, Red-shafted, female

Flicker BoyGilded Flicker, male

Mourning Dove SublimeMourning Dove, feeling sublime

YRWA

YRWA 2Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, female

It’s been really cold here, freezing at night, so many of the plants are covered up. The outdoor kitties have a lot of extra blankets and towels in their beds (and a new igloo but it only fits one, unfortunately) and the birds are bundled up.

OCWA with Beanie_edited-3

Tink, the Orange-crowned Warbler, is happy for all the grape jelly but wishes it would warm up. She kindly posed for a New Year’s photo, though…

Tink New Year_edited-1

 

 

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