I escaped my quarantine the other day, in the late afternoon, for a couple of hours. I went to the Gilbert Riparian Preserve where I go about once a year. I should really go more often as there is an extreme diversity of all sorts of birds…water birds, songbirds, raptors, and always a rarity or 2. I went in pursuit of a rarity this time. I had seen literally hundreds of photos of a Roseate Spoonbill that has been there for a few weeks in my Facebook birding group. Most of the photos were so pretty, up close, so you could see its pink feathered fluffiness in detail. Well, I didn’t get there until about 4pm and I heard it had left for the day so I walked around looking, to no avail, but saw a lot of other birds. About 6pm, as it was getting dark, disappointed, I headed back to my car and saw it in a different pond than those it usually frequents! It was out quite a ways and it was getting dark so I didn’t get those pretty, detailed photos that I had seen from other people. But I saw it and it was awesome and it was a new life bird (lifer)! And I have proof:
It has giant black feet! This is not a bird that you find in Arizona normally. It likes Florida and Texas and other Gulf coasts. Actually, right now there are also 3 more of them at Glendale Recharge Ponds, too, on the completely opposite side of town. I would love to go see them and if it ever cools off here before they leave, I am going to go look for them, too.
But here are a few more of the birds I saw before finding it…
Great Blue Herons
This beautiful red amaranth was all over; I had never seen it there before.
Now for some songbirds…
Yellow-rumped Warblers (last photo indicates source of name)
Different than my yard birds! This makes me want to get back out there birding after this intense heat we have had, much longer than usual, and this horrible quarantine we’re in!!!! It was nice to have a change of scenery…
Ugh, after living in Arizona for 45 years and going out in the wild fairly often, I finally saw my very first tarantula lumbering along a path we were on at Seven Springs. Interesting yet creepy to this arachnophobe. Of course, we did not get in its way.
One of my friends said she saw her first tarantula in the wild at the same place several years ago. Just a little earlier, I had mentioned to Tony that I thought the area seemed “tarantula-y.”
Okay, as of right now, beautiful Mount Lemmon in Tucson is now my favorite Arizona destination. There is only an ugly 2 hour drive on I-10 from Phoenix to Tucson and then an annoying drive through Tucson between it and me.
Both Tony and I had been to Mt. Lemmon decades ago, separately, yet neither one of us really remembered it. If I had, it would not have taken so long to go back. It is awesomely beautiful and goes through several life zones before reaching the 9,000+ foot peak by an extremely nice 2 lane highway.
Neither of us even knew there was a lake up there…Rose Canyon Lake. Small yet gorgeous. Here are a few panoramas. If you want to see them larger, click here: 1, 2, 3.
I got my one and only lifer here.
We actually saw several. Normally getting only one lifer when I knew so many others had to be there would have saddened me…not up here because it was just so awesome!
Dull Firetip Skipper
Onward and upward we went through a beautiful census designated place (CDP) called Summerhaven, full of beautiful chalet-type summer homes. Yes, I want to live there now.
The ski run was closed but this was the view from Ski Valley. This is the southernmost ski resort in the U.S. The temperature up here was a refreshing 75° while it was a toasty 113° in Phoenix.
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.