Bald Eagle, immature
This is either Hope or Joy, one of 2 Bald Eagles hatched in a nest in a Scottsdale golf course last spring (in a densely populated area). They were well-known locally then and each of them fell from their nest as nestlings and were placed back in by Arizona Game and Fish and Liberty Wildlife rehabbers. You can read their story and see them as babies here and here. I never saw them last year as their exact location was a secret, for their safety.
Anyway, I was at Lake Marguerite, which isn’t far from that golf course, a couple times recently looking for a Hairy Woodpecker and the second time I looked up and Hope or Joy was watching me! It’s always exciting to see a bald eagle, I think, and he/she took off right as I watched, zipped over the lake, swooped down, grabbed a fish, and flew off right by me. And I even saw the Hairy Woodpecker (which was my 12th lifer this year) but the photo is basically a black and white blur so I won’t show it here. However, I got a couple shots of this girl:
Ladder-backed Woodpecker, female
I was also at Granada Park recently, my old standby park that I don’t visit much anymore, and I was surprised to see this beautiful guy watching me from the trees. While not a lifer, it was the best shots I’ve ever gotten of one.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s
And when I was recently volunteering at the Desert Botanical Garden, I walked around afterwards and saw a few more critters.
Gila Woodpecker, male
Costa’s Hummingbird, male
Costa’s hummingbird, female
Amazingly, four Wood Ducks have been hanging out about half of a mile away from our house in an odd little office complex pond (see a photo of it here). There are 3 males and 1 female. This was another lifer for me! They are not really common here and I’ve been trying to see one for a long time. I never thought I would see 4 at once! And so close to home!
I’ve been there twice so far. The security guard said they fly in and out so they are spending their time somewhere else nearby, too. I’m hoping they plan to winter here. So beautiful!
House Sparrow, male
I’ve been trying to get the backyard birds to pose for holiday shots. Herding cats is easier than herding birds. I should have stuck with cat holiday shots.
House Sparrow, female
Not surprisingly, only the sparrows are participating so far.
Last year I only saw our wintering warbler eating oranges but this year it is digging the suet, too.
Anna’s Hummingbird, male
Black-crowned Night Heron
Last weekend I met some birding friends at The Riparian Preserve At Water Ranch in Gilbert, a Phoenix suburb. It’s usually just referred to as Gilbert Riparian. It’s really the place to go to see mega-birds but, being lazy, I seldom go there because it’s about 30 miles from home…which isn’t much, I know. I should go more because I got 8 lifers there that day!
Here they are:
It’s kind of dark there in many places and some of the ponds (there are 7) were very low so the ducks were far away. The water levels fluctuate because it’s part of Gilbert’s water treatment system so a lot of my photos were not great.
Spotted Towhee, Green-winged Teal, Cattle Egret, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Harrier
And I also got a really, really bad photo of a Song Sparrow that I’m not posting but it was also a lifer although I’m sure I’ve seen them around a lot in life as they’re quite common. But I only count birds as lifers if I have seen and photographed them since starting to bird.
And a few more non-lifers rounded out the morning.
Ruddy Duck, male
American Kestrel, male
After spending a few hours there, my friends and I went on to Apache Junction, where one of them lives, and spent the afternoon on her beautiful patio at the foot of the Superstition Mountains where she attracts a ton of birds and where I got some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. Next time…
Canvasback Duck, drake
Canvasback Duck, hen
While not technically a lifer because I saw a female Canvasback last year, I had never seen a male Canvasback until I was at Granada Park recently. I love those red eyes.
It was a gloomy day so the water looked murky. I didn’t know what the following duck was until later and he isn’t a lifer either but I had never seen a juvenile Redhead before:
This is what he will look like when he grows up (from the same lake last year), another handsome duck:
And because they are so often overlooked because they are common, yet really pretty:
Western Pygmy Blue
Fountain Hills, AZ, is home to a world-famous fountain that operates daily and shoots water 562 feet high. I was there on December 15th and today, New Year’s Day, Tony and I went back. Fountain Park is a beautiful place with a 29 acre lake and the park is filled with sculptures and recreation areas. It has changed a lot since the last time I was there years ago. This is my favorite sculpture there:
But…the reason I initially went was because I wanted to see these guys, and I did…fun-loving Hooded Mergansers, a lifer. Both drakes and hens were there.
The second lifer I saw there was this female Common Goldeneye:
And the third lifer I saw, today, to start out 2016, was this Eared Grebe.
Love those red eyes. And I also saw these guys:
Ruddy Duck, male
Ruddy Duck, female
Northern Shovelers, churning up their food
The first day I was there, which was cold and windy, I also saw these birds:
Great-tailed Grackle, female
Red-winged Blackbird, male
House Sparrow, female
I hope the new year has started out fortuitously for you, too.