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.
There’s a small park in Tempe that I had never heard of with a little pond. The word got out among the local birders and bird photographers that a male Wood Duck and two females were hanging out there for the winter. Wood Ducks are not real common in the Phoenix area although a few are spotted here and there most winters. I hadn’t seen any in a couple years so I headed out last Sunday and got there shortly before sunset.
Of course, the male was the star of the show but the females are pretty, too.
It was getting dark but I was fortunate to catch a few golden patches of water.
Plus…to make things even better, there was a rare bird there, too, which was part of the draw. This tiny little guy is native to South America so everyone assumed he was an escapee from a zoo or private collection. Apparently, the latter is the case. He belongs to someone who lives a couple of blocks from the park and recently escaped. The owner knows where he is and comes to visit him but has decided he seems happy so is leaving him there. Hope he’ll be okay because he’s pretty tame and much smaller than one would think.
Ringed Teal, male
Both these boys were more than happy to pose for the cameras. I have so many photos that I had to try a couple special effects…
Western Pygmy-Blue, smallest butterfly in North America
It’s been a glorious November, weather-wise, in Phoenix, following an equally glorious October.
Anna’s Hummingbirds, males
Svengali in the sunny catport (formerly the carport)
Google in the sun
Lesser Goldfinch, male
Orange-crowned Warbler (“Tink”)
This is one of my favorite things I’ve ever bought and I think it cost about $3.99. This is Pink Muhly Grass (Regal Mist), a non-invasive grass. It was tiny when I bought it, looked like a little tuft of grass and I had to ask our yard guy to not mow it or pull it out. I planted it in the remainder of a stump of a tree we had removed. First photo shows it now in all its pink glory, 2nd photo is of the stump, 3rd photo shows it when first planted in March 2017, 4th photo shows it in November 2017. It has grown a ton since then.
Western Pygmy-Blue in Muhly Grass
Lantana Berries, delicious to all
And…my 44th yard bird species…who seems to have only hung around for a couple days:
It was a very cute, tiny, curious, loud visitor. I wish I could have gotten a better photo before it took off…
When SR-87, also known as the Beeline Highway, was widened in 1996, this older segment in the riparian corridor of Sycamore Creek near Sunflower was abandoned. Thus the trees and wildlife habitats are preserved and are much quieter (Arizonensis).
It was definitely quiet there, we only saw a couple vehicles that turned around when they reached a gate but we parked and walked past the gate for over a mile along the creek. We went by an abandoned Forest Service site with dilapidated buildings and broken-down fences. It was honestly kind of eerie and it started to give me the creeps after awhile so we eventually turned back. I do wonder what they plan to do with the whole area…
I got a photo of ONE bird the whole time. This is an area that is supposed to have a ton of birds, some of which we heard but never saw.
The lack of wildife was disappointing but we did see some autumn colors along the way, something we don’t really experience in Phoenix.
Here are a few more sights along the quiet road.
False Garlic (?)
We could have eaten if we had been lost there.
We turned right and headed home, an interesting yet somewhat disappointing day.
We’ve had the best October ever, weather-wise. Due to some Pacific tropical storms, we had over 3 inches of rain in early October and it’s been far cooler than normal. Usually it’s still unbearably hot in October…not this year!!!! It’s been awesome.
Although I didn’t see any migrating birds in our yard and no new yard birds lately, we have had some colorful and more occasional visitors this month.
Ornate Tree Lizard
The rain brought fungi, gnats, and mosquitos. No fairies under those ‘shrooms.
Rosy-faced Lovebird and Lesser Goldfinch (click to see larger)
Anna’s Hummingbirds, males
Gila Woodpecker, female
Look who’s getting excited about Halloween Trick or Treats!!!
Curve-billed Thrasher, House Finch, Northern Mockingbird (click to see larger)
And the most exciting visitor is this little bird (“Tink”). This is his/her 4th winter to come to our yard and this year she showed up a couple weeks earlier than last year. She loves grape jelly and usually stays until about April. I’m so glad to see her back. I know she will pose nicely for me several times this winter. According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “The oldest known Orange-crowned Warbler was a male, and at least 8 years, 7 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California.” I just find it amazing that a bird can find its way back to a specific place year after year but it does happen. I feel flattered that she likes the accommodations.