Reach 11 Nature Trail

Roadrunner_edited-1Greater Roadrunner with lunch

Reach 11, in north Phoenix, is part of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department but it exists for flood control. A 7-mile long earthen dam keeps flood waters out of the nearby canal and out of housing developments to the south. The area where the nature trails are is only about 1 mile wide. Amazingly, this place is not well-known at all. I only heard about it from some birders recently. Driving down the busy street where the entrance is, one would never know what a beautiful place it is. Someone described it as a “hidden gem,” and it really is. From the street it just looks like desert scrub.

This poor, old, decrepit saguaro is at the beginning of the trail. We saw a bird fly into it so stopped to watch.

Saguaro R11

Who’s that?

Gila in Cactus 1

Gila in Hole_edited-1

It’s a male Gila Woodpecker. There must be a nest in there.

Gila Bill in Hole_edited-1

He was kind of shy. But then we saw more action…

Starling in Hole_edited-1

A European Starling. It had a nest in one of the center holes and kept flying in and out with food. We could hear babies chirping every time a delivery was made.

Then we saw someone else fly in the other side…

Flicker on Cactus_edited-1

A Gilded Flicker (male) seems to have a nest, too…

Flicker Butt in Hole_edited-1

Flicker in Hole_edited-1

We stayed on the trail and didn’t disrupt the nesters but I’m sure they were pleased we left. We also saw another Starling head into a hole in the back so this saguaro is home to at least 4 different nests now. Who knows what else might be living in there? The wind was really blowing hard and gusting while we were there so I hope when that poor saguaro falls that there are no nests left.

After we walked a little more, we started to see the “hidden gem” part of this area. It was very lush back in there, all sorts of grasses, wildflowers, etc.

Wild Plants

Thru the Trees

There was a mesquite bosque and a little hidden pond in there, full of tadpoles, called Bullfrog Pond. It was really peaceful and pretty. No one was around but one biker.

Pond 1

Tree Tunnel

Globe MallowGlobe Mallow

LizardCommon Side-blotched Lizard

BTGCBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher

Hummer R11Anna’s Hummingbird

I know this place is teeming with birds and other wildlife but it was so windy that day that the birds were having a hard time staying airborne. It’s definitely a place we will return to as it’s only about 20 minutes from our house and very unique.

*The reason this recreation area is called “Reach 11” is because it’s on the 11th reach of the Central Arizona Project canal. Across the street from the nature trail is a huge sports complex with 20 soccer fields, an equestrian area, and more.

 

Advertisements

Gateway Trailhead

mtn view

This is the third time we’ve been to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale. It is comprised of 30,500 acres of Sonoran Desert, 7 trailheads, and over 200 miles of trails. This particular trailhead, Gateway, is the closest to town and it was very busy on a weekday afternoon last week. The trails were also very rocky so it was hard to look up while walking with cameras. Basically, it’s not a place that we would go to again but I’m sure many people love it…since there were a ton of them there. Nevertheless, it was still pretty…

painted ladyPainted Lady

brittlebushCreosote

Birds, none for most of the trail until we got towards the end…

btsp 2

btsp 1Black-throated Sparrow

mtn view 2

mtn view 3

cactus

downed cactus

gila on cactusGila Woodpecker

thrasherCurve-billed Thrasher

looking down

mtn with antennae

antenna close_edited-1Thompson Peak

flicker over cityGilded Flicker

finch

finches flyingHouse Finches

These are the other trailheads we’ve been to which were farther north, away from the city, and with nicer trails, more dramatic scenery, and better mountain views: Brown’s Ranch Trailhead and Granite Mountain Trailhead. Next time we’ll go to the trails that are farther north again…

Back to Granada

Canvasback 1

Canvasback 2

Canvasback 4

2 CanvasbacksCanvasback drakes meeting Mallard couple

They’re diving ducks:

Canvasback Diving

I hadn’t seen a Canvasback duck for a couple of years so it was fun to see two handsome drakes when I went to Granada Park, a Phoenix city park, the other day. Through part of 2014 and all of 2015 and 2016, I went to Granada Park about once a week and saw a lot of cool birds there. Starting in 2017, I quit finding new birds and it was kind of boring so I didn’t go much in 2017 and this is only the second time this year that I’ve gone. It was nice to be back on a crisp day. I didn’t see any new birds but it was still fun to see who may be spending the winter. Plenty of the following ducks were there:

RNDU 2Ring-necked Duck

Wigeon 2

WigeonAmerican Wigeons, males

Grackle FemaleGreat-tailed Grackle, female

Gilded Flicker_edited-1

Flicker 1

Gilded Flicker 3Northern Flicker, Red-shafted, female

Flicker BoyGilded Flicker, male

Mourning Dove SublimeMourning Dove, feeling sublime

YRWA

YRWA 2Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, female

It’s been really cold here, freezing at night, so many of the plants are covered up. The outdoor kitties have a lot of extra blankets and towels in their beds (and a new igloo but it only fits one, unfortunately) and the birds are bundled up.

OCWA with Beanie_edited-3

Tink, the Orange-crowned Warbler, is happy for all the grape jelly but wishes it would warm up. She kindly posed for a New Year’s photo, though…

Tink New Year_edited-1

 

 

happy-new-year-banner-image-32

Brown’s Ranch Trail

Brown’s Ranch was founded in 1917 by E.O. Brown, a Scottsdale entrepreneur, and encompassed 44,000 acres at its peak, supporting 3,000 to 5,000 head of cattle. His descendants lived on the ranch until 1970. After changing hands several times, the remainder of the ranch was acquired by the City of Scottsdale in 1999 for inclusion in the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The Preserve is a large, permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat that includes an interconnected network of non-motorized, multi-use trails (hike/bike/horse) accessed from multiple trailhead locations over 30,500 acres. It is the largest urban park in the U.S.

Brown’s Mountain

It was a sunny, windy day and the 3 mile Brown’s Ranch Trail just got prettier and birdier the farther we went. We’d never been to any part of the Preserve before and I had no idea it was so beautiful. The trails were great. We’ll be exploring more of it soon.

White-crowned Sparrow (on agave stalk)

Ocotillos

I imagine in the spring, when the desert is in bloom, that it is even more spectacular.

Cactus Wren (on agave stalk)

Cholla, glowing

Cone Mountain

Phainopepla, male (on agave stalk)

Saguaro skeleton

Harris’s Hawk

Gilded Flicker couple

Curve-billed Thrasher

Red-tailed Hawk

Yes, those are bullet holes even though shooting is not allowed in the Preserve. But this is Arizona, the Wild West.

Mount Humboldt with FAA Radar Facility

Northern Mockingbird (on agave stalk)

There were no lifers but it is definitely on the “return to” list, at some point. And I learned that birds love dried agave stalks so I am in search of one for my backyard photo props.

Cacophony and Color

Anna’s Hummingbirds, male

Our yard has been pretty active lately but it seems to have gotten even more so the last few days. Some new, colorful birds have been dropping by and sometimes it is so loud out there that it sounds like we’re deep in a busy, bird-filled forest.

Verdins

Orange-crowned Warbler

“Tink,” above, is no longer the yellowest bird in the yard! Since I hung a thistle sock a few days ago, a whole flock of these guys, below, have moved in. There must be at least 20 of them and they are very chatty. I only recently saw a couple in the yard and, once the thistle was out, the word apparently got out among their friends. I love watching them, they’re so bright and pretty.

Lesser Goldfinches, male and female

I was hoping the thistle would draw some other kinds of goldfinches or some Pine Siskins (which would be lifers) but, so far, the only new birds I’ve gotten are:

Rosy-faced Lovebird

The lovebirds were originally escapees from a pet store back in the 1980s but they were able to flourish here and now there is a large, feral population. I had seen them pass through our yard now and then but now they are dropping bu more regularly. They also like black oil sunflower seed and they like the swing, too, but I haven’t gotten a photo of that yet. You can always hear when they are around.

Gila Woodpeckers, male and female

The male is very loud and raucous but the female has just started showing up to eat oranges and she is very quiet.

Gilded Flicker, female

Yard bird #37:

Northern Flicker (Red-shafted), male

House Finches, male

Some of these male House Finches are soooo bright red that I keep thinking I’m seeing Cardinals. We have many, many more bird species in our yard as regulars but these are the most colorful of the bunch.

Hope your New Year is off to a great start and that you have all sorts of fun plans ahead. These were my 2017 Goals and the results:

  1. Volunteer 100 hours at Desert Botanical Garden. Volunteered 102.75 hours.
  2. Find 60 new Lifers (new birds). Found 58.
  3. Go on many AZ day trips with Tony. Went on 23.

2018 Goals are about the same: 100 hours, 50 Lifers, 25 day trips.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.