Great Blue Heron
Despite mentioning in my last post that the Glendale Recharge Ponds are not my favorite place, I was back there one day last week. My birding friend, Samantha, wanted to look for the Long-tailed Duck reported there (that I could not find a few days prior when I went). She’s really good at finding birds so I wanted to go, too. We actually had 2 other target birds that day, at other locations farther west of the ponds: White-tailed Kites (2 have been reported) and a Tundra Swan. I was also really hoping to find some Western Meadowlarks and Western Bluebirds as they have been seen in the places we were going. All would be Lifers for me. But…
However, I had a 6 lifer day anyway! Samantha has more birds on her life list than I do so she was not so lucky. Here’s what I got at Glendale Recharge Ponds:
I was most excited about these two:
I saw these cute guys before we left:
We then drove several miles to our second location in search of Kites. No such luck but I did get one other lifer there and have a really bad shot to prove it:
Then we drove several more miles to where we hoped to see the Tundra Swan. No such luck again but we did see these guys and there were lifers, for me, among them. I saw them slightly better with my binoculars than these photos show.
Since we had already gone so far, we decided to make one other stop a few more miles away referred to as the “Thrasher Spot.” I had never been there but Samantha had with much success. It’s a nondescript little area known for a variety of thrashers, Horned Larks, and a few other less common birds but they all seemed to be taking afternoon naps by the time we got there. We saw hardly any birds and nothing unusual.
The most exciting thing I saw there was this mistletoe cluster in a mesquite tree with a tiny bird in the upper right corner. However, despite getting zero target birds, 6 lifers in one day was awesome!
Anna’s Hummingbird, male
Back in February, 2015, I got a new lens for birding, the Sigma 150-500mm. It was on sale. Shortly thereafter, they released 2 versions of a Sigma 150-600mm (hence the sale). I was very happy with my lens and could handhold it whereas the birding friends I knew who got the 150-600mm could not handhold theirs. Those things are huge…but do deliver a very crisp photo. If I was in great light and all, my photos were crisp, too, but as time wore on, I felt it focused sort of slowly and could be sharper so I started thinking about the Nikkor 200-500mm. It was quite a bit heavier and bigger than my lens, though, so I kept stalling because I was afraid I would have to use a tripod or monopod.
Then another acquaintance in my birding group, who is an excellent photographer, and who is able to “test drive” lenses (I don’t really know how he pulls that off) said the new Tamron 150-600mm, 2nd generation, just released in September, was faster and crisper than the Nikkor. I looked at the specs and it was only 4 ounces heavier than my Sigma and just slightly longer so I felt it could still be handheld. It was the same price as the Nikkor so I traded in my Sigma and now have the Tamron.
I really haven’t tried it out much yet. I went out to a park one day and got a few photos but, other than that, have mostly used it in my yard. Our yard is pretty dark so I don’t think I’ve experimented enough yet to gauge the sharpness. The extra few ounces are actually noticeable as far as handholding but I think I’ll get used to that. The extra reach from 500 to 600 is very noticeable. I usually have buyer’s remorse but I’m trying to get over it. I guess I have to say that I just haven’t used it enough, under the right conditions, to know if it is markedly sharper and faster to focus but it has excellent reviews so I’m hopeful.
And here are a couple photos taken with my 18-300mm. These 2 Macaws live at Dig It Urban Gardens and Nursery, where I went the other day.
It was a slow week for birding. I went to a place that I used to stop in at on my way home from work, that was lush and dark, where I used to get some good shots but most of the trees had been cut down so there were no birds! Very sad and disappointing. So that left only my old standby, Granada Park, and our yard as my birding destinations for the past week.
I’ve strategically placed a few more pots of flowers around in an attempt to have some nice backdrops (and nectar) for the many hummers who frequent our yard but, so far, they still prefer the tree branches and feeders.
Wouldn’t these guys look prettier if they were sipping from flowers or at least closer to flowers?
And attracting more butterflies would be a plus, too, although they seem to prefer our lantana.
And this is all I saw at Granada Park:
A butterball? A snowball? Maybe a domestic goose, napping.
American Kestrel, male
Hoping for some more exotic locales in the near future…
Are you the sort of person who looks up when geese fly over? I always do; they make me happy because they seem so happy. I see them a lot, at home, and around where I work. A couple weeks ago, I was walking into work and a flock flew overhead so I looked up. Then I looked around to see who else might have seen them…hard to miss because they were loudly honking away. Everyone else was looking at their phones or their feet. I’d rather see geese, wouldn’t you?
Here’s the duck portion, a little Duck Drama:
And then they swam away together, with a mediator, letting bygones be bygones.
Northern Shoveler, female
Northern Shoveler, male
This is what winter looks like in Phoenix, specifically the ponds at Papago Park, a Phoenix Point of Pride. (Click on photos for more detail.)
Ring-Necked Duck, male
American Wigeons, male and female
Do you wonder where your waterfowl went? They’re here with more arriving daily!!!
Green Heron, the American Birding Association’s Bird of the Year 2015!
Canada Goose, C77, with American Wigeon and Ring-Necked Duck
And some girls out having a good time…