Usery Mountain and Red Mountain

Red-tailed Hawk on Saguaro

We’ve been fortunate to have some cool days in Phoenix lately, before the true summer heat begins, so last week we took a local trip about 30 miles away to Usery Mountain Regional Park (a county park). It was very pretty. We made another stop first that I didn’t care for as much so I’ll put that at the end of this post…

I was glad to finally see this sign above. It has been around since the 1950s (although I’ve also heard it was already present during WWII) when a Boy Scout troop built it to help direct pilots to the Phoenix airport, 20 miles west. It’s made of rocks from Usery Mountain: each letter is about 100 feet high and 12 feet wide. The sign is 1,000 feet across and it took 5.5 years to assemble. More on this marker here.

Pass Mountain

Viewing Pond

This little pond and waterfall draws wildlife in for drinks and baths.

House Finches, male and female

Gambel’s Quail

Curve-billed Thrasher on Saguaro

Lesser Goldfinch

The Nature Center at the park had feeders set up behind it. I always appreciate feeders to draw birds in. No lifers but lifers aren’t everything…I guess.

This is the view looking south toward Apache Junction.

Our original destination that day was Red Mountain Park in east Mesa, where we went first. We had heard they have a wetlands area. Well, sort of, but not really. This park did not thrill me at all. I’m sure it’s nice for a city park if you live close by but it wasn’t worth the drive (to us).

The place was dominated by grackles and doves. We saw a few other birds but they’re the sort of birds we see at most of the ponds and lakes around town.

Canada Goose gosling

Cooper’s Hawk

Pied-billed Grebes, adult and immature

Western Wood-Pewee

Brown-headed Cowbird

Snow Goose

The highlight of that park was seeing this Snow Goose, which should really not be in the area and shows up on the rare bird alert regularly. It must either like it there or it can’t fly although it certainly looked fine. I’ve seen a migrating flock of these before but never one up close like this. It is a handsome bird.

Oh, the very first shot of the hawk on the saguaro? It cost me $24. I took it from the side of the road and laid my lens cap on my car. Hours later I remembered. It’s a big cap, 95mm. The replacement just arrived now.

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Rainy Day Pastimes

Hummer Spilled Ink_edited-1Oops

Thanks to El Niño, we had 5 days of solid gloom and rain. Instead of using the time to do all the things I need to do, I played around with some photos…and the minutes turned into hours and the hours into days. They each can tell a little story, I think.

window lake cupShattered

Nikon Camera HawkShootin’ Film

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Window Cat_edited-1Looking Out/Looking In

Hawk Easel Feather BlueArt Imitates Life

I had seen this 5 minute award-winning animated film short the night before and that’s what “inspired” me to make these…not the message of the film (which is kind of sappy although true) but the visual beauty of it. I love all the layers upon layers in it…not that I can do anything very complex but it was fun trying.

 

 

Summer at Granada

Ring Necked Duck

Granada Park, as I’ve mentioned before, is my main “go-to” birding location. It’s close to home, has 2 small lakes (ponds), desert trails, and is at the foot of Piestewa Peak. From November to June, I went at least once a week but, in June, due to the heat, I kinda wimped out and only went once the whole month. So far, in July, I’ve gone twice, and last weekend had a good yield for me. So here are some photos of summer in Granada.

Ring-Necked Duck

This Ring-Necked Duck (drake), above 2 photos, is actually a rarity this time of year in Phoenix. They normally migrate but I saw him (or another just like him) last summer, too, so I wonder if he can’t fly or if he just likes Granada. He has plenty of other park ducks to hang out with but none of his own kind. When fall comes, though, his friends will return.

Flicker 2_edited-1Gilded Flicker, male

This handsome guy appears to have been snatched from the talons of death just in the nick of time. I don’t know if tail feathers grow back, hope so. Bet it hurt but he was lucky.

Kestrel 1_edited-1American Kestrel, male

He might have been the culprit because kestrels are small but fierce.

Common RavenCommon Raven

I never see crows or ravens here but I did.

Goose 2

Goose 1Domestic Goose

This goose is a full-time resident and pretty bossy.

WW DoveWhite-Winged Dove

FinchHouse Finches

Heron 1Green Heron

Nighthawk_edited-1Lesser Nighthawk

HumAnna’s Hummingbird

SparrowHouse Sparrow, male

NestVerdin Nest

Sag

Sag Holes

One of the 2 remaining saguaros in the park after the last one collapsed.

DSC_3033Ash-Throated Flycatcher (LIFER)

DSC_3039

Georgie

This is Georgie, who I have gotten to know at the park, along with her mom. But they are moving out-of-state in a few days so I won’t see this pretty girl there anymore. The lake won’t be the same without Georgie fetching her ball over and over.

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