Bartlett Lake

Wildflowers on Lake

It’s spring in the desert! We went to Bartlett Lake to see the wildflowers that everyone has been raving about. With all the rain we’ve had, it’s supposed to be a great year for them and it was really beautiful: the lake and the wildflowers. It was a perfect day, temperatures in the 60s, deep blue skies, and wispy clouds.

Field of Wildflowers

Bartlett Lake is a reservoir that was formed by the damming of the Verde River, completed in 1939.

Bartlett Lake

We could even see snow-covered Four Peaks in the distance.

4 Peaks in Distance

This is the Yellow Cliffs area:

Yellow Cliffs

Yellow Cliffs Longshot

Another Yellow Cliff

The rocks of the cliffs take on their yellow coloration due to an extensive colony of yellow “crustose” lichen.

Lake Circle

Lake Shot 2_edited-1

Lake Shot

We saw quite a few people taking photos of the wildflowers but the lake itself was very quiet. One of the best things about being retired is being able to go places during the week and avoiding the crowds. We didn’t even see any ducks or other water birds.

Poppies

Several PoppiesMexican Poppies and Lupines

White Poppies

White Poppy

The white poppies are rarer.

Longshot Lake Ord

You can barely see snow-covered Mt. Ord in the distance, above, but this is it closer, below. You can see all the towers on top.

Mt. Ord Closer

All-in-all, it was a very nice day.

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.

McDowell Mountain Regional Park

This is Four Peaks as seen from McDowell Mountain Regional Park.  At 21,099 acres, it is one of the largest parks in the Maricopa County Parks System and is known for its stunning mountain views.

In a few more weeks, the daylight hours will be long enough to head farther out of town but we have been staying fairly local throughout the winter. We have a lot of new places on our list and several that we want to go back to again so this particular park and the one before it (White Tanks) will probably not go on our “repeat list.” It’s a nice park and I’m sure a lot of people love it but the 3 mile North Trail Loop that we walked seemed like a really long 3 miles, just not real exciting.

Black-throated Sparrow

It also was not overly birdy until we got to one small area toward the end of the hike that was very chirpy and busy. In addition to many of the above sparrows and the other birds in this post, we saw many House Finches, a Cardinal, a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and several White-Crowned Sparrows.

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Loggerhead Shrike (the impaler)

Phainopepla, female

Common Raven

Packrat Nest

Weaver’s Needle in the Superstition Mountains

Gila Woodpecker, female

One of the best things about many County Parks, I’ve noticed (in at least AZ, IN, and MI), is that they often seem to have bird feeders as they did here by the Visitor Center. We spent a little time before we left watching who would come to the feeders and talking to a friendly bird-loving ranger. No lifers but it was only the second time I’ve seen the following bird (there were 2):

Canyon Towhee

I did learn something new…

The Four Peaks are named, from left to right: Brown’s Peak (the highest at 7,657 feet), Brother’s Peak, Sister’s Peak, and Amethyst Peak. There is an amethyst mine up there, very rustic, that produces beautiful amethysts. And I just found out that you can take a helicopter tour to the mine, according to this article! That sounds totally amazing and is pretty expensive as the article states. I do have a ring that has Arizona amethyst in it so now I know where it came from.