This steel truss bridge was built in 1927 over the Gila River downstream from the Gillespie Dam on what is now Old US Highway 80. It’s about an hour west from our house and sounded like an interesting little trip.
You can see the dam in these shots, above and below. It was constructed in 1920 but on January 9, 1993, due to record heavy rainfall, 120 feet of the dam collapsed. It was never repaired and nature has now taken over much of the area. The remnants of the dam remain in place and the area is largely accessible to the public. A small earthen embankment exists to divert water into nearby canals.
Before we headed over for a closer look at the dam, we were treated to an airshow!
American White Pelicans
You can get right up to the dam and, if you want to climb a little (we didn’t), you can even walk across it~until you hit the broken area.
Great Egret and Snowy Egrets
Apparently liability isn’t a concern for the County. I wouldn’t want to be under this building next time there is a record rainfall. It was an unusual, bizarre kind of place but in a good way. The whole area of Arlington is very agricultural. I wish we had gotten some shots of all the fields.
This place is now partially owned by the state and there were some trucks going in and out. I don’t believe it’s for cattle anymore but it is picturesque. We were then going to head to Arlington Wildlife Area but the dirt road we were on was way beyond rutted and we didn’t think it was wise.
Instead we drove a few more miles west to a nondescript area known to birders as the “Thrasher Spot.” It’s just on the corner of 2 roads and rare thrashers and sparrows seem to congregate there in the desert brush. It was late afternoon by then and not too active but I did get my final lifer of 2017, a Sagebrush Sparrow!
Here’s a short article on the dam and bridge.
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…
These photos were from a recent late afternoon visit to Papago Park in Phoenix.
Ring-Necked Duck Drake
Snowy and Cormy
Papago has a lot of reeds which can make for interesting patterns on the water.
Common Gallinule, immature
I went there in search of these lifers, Northern Pintails, and I found them. There were 3 drakes and a popular hen.
After posing nicely, they swam off into the sunset.
A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I had seen two rarities lately. This is the second one and he comes from the same part of the world as the first rarity, the Mandarin Duck. This is an Eurasian Wigeon drake.
“Common and widespread in the Old World, the Eurasian Wigeon is a sporadic visitor to North America. Regular in very small numbers along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, single individuals have turned up in nearly all states and provinces. The Eurasian Wigeons seen each year in North America likely come from eastern Siberia and Iceland.” (All About Birds)
He is at a park in Glendale, AZ, and this is his third winter there so he must enjoy it. He is still in his “eclipse plumage” and will become a rich auburn color in another month or 2 when he is in his breeding plumage. I saw photos of him taken last February and he was gorgeous so I might go out and see him again.
As a comparison, here are some American Wigeons (that he was hanging out with):
American Wigeon, drake
American Wigeon, hen
I also saw these guys at the same park:
Great Blue Heron
And he has landed!
I like to call these “Herodynamics.” We were back at Tres Rios a couple of weeks ago. This post will look a lot like my original post from there, 7 weeks earlier.
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Great Blue Heron
Below are the only photos I could get of the comical, cartoonish-looking Belted Kingfisher. They’re fast!
This is my souvenir from the day which, I assume, is from a Great Blue Heron as it is about a foot long.