Global Big Day

Desert Spiny Lizard (regrowing his tail after some incident or accident)

Phainopepla, male

On May 5, Global Big Day, 28,000 people ventured outside in 170 countries, finding 6899 species: 2/3rds of the world’s bird species in one day. This is a new world record for birding and more birds seen by the Global Big Day team than any one person has ever seen in an entire year. You can read more about the results here.

My birding friend, Karen, and I went to Hassayampa Reserve Preserve, near Wickenburg, that day so that we could participate. By submitting our sightings to ebird.org, our results are included in all this data, too.

I have a slight disclaimer. While we did see many Desert Spiny Lizards and Phainopeplas that day, the above 2 photos are actually from another day when I was at Desert Botanical Garden because the shots I got on May 5 were not as good. That said, all the following shots were taken at Hassayampa on May 5. It is very dense and dark there, tree-wise, so I’m not pleased with many of these shots.

Yellow-breasted Chat (lifer)

This bird, above, was the bird both of us were most hoping to see as it was a lifer for both of us. They were very elusive but I finally got a couple mediocre shots. You can see, in the second photo, that this bird has a band around its left leg.

I got 2 more lifers that day (with no photos):

Common Yellowthroat
Lazuli Bunting~the male is gorgeous but we saw only the female, pretty but not nearly as colorful

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Myrtle subspecies

The above bird was a little unusual to see as we usually see the Audubon’s subspecies around here. The Audubon’s has a yellow throat and the Myrtle has a white throat and other subtle differences.

Vermilion Flycatchers, male and female

Wilson’s Warbler, male

Townsend’s Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Song Sparrow

Summer Tanager, male

Pine Siskin

Red-winged Blackbirds, male and female

Ornate Tree Lizard

A couple more excerpts from the article I mentioned earlier:

For the second year in a row, Colombia led the world in bird species on Global Big Day. The herculean efforts of the Colombian birding community found an unfathomable 1546 species in one country in one day.

The final US tally was 716, bolstered by great totals from Texas (408), California (361), and Arizona (310). US eBirders also documented 577 species with photographs in their eBird checklists, and 172 with audio—quite remarkable!

And there you have it—another birding world record in the books! Never before have so many birders gone out in this many countries, found so many birds, and noted them all down in eBird for their fellow birders, researchers, and conservationists.

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Hassayampa and Sherwood Heights

Vermilion Flycatcher, male

We had not been to Hassayampa River Preserve for 4 years so we went one day last week. I was hoping for some new birds, of course, as I know there are some reported there that I’ve never seen. Luck was not with me. We heard a ton of birds but just didn’t see many. It’s pretty dense there with a lot of very tall trees so the hiding is good. The first time we went all I saw were Vermilion Flycatchers and that’s pretty much all we saw this time, too. They are beautiful, though. Here are the posts I made back in 2013 where you can get a better idea of what the preserve looks like (1, 2, 3). This trip was photo-lite.

Palm Lake

Vermilion Flycatcher, female

Hassayampa has been a Nature Conservancy preserve for over 25 years and will soon become part of the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department. Their parks are very well-maintained so I imagine some improvements will be occurring soon to this former ranch. It will become part of the new Vulture Mountains Recreation Area. Here’s a link if you’re interested.

Mistletoe clumps in Mesquite

So…I never post only 4 photos! A couple days before I left on my Indiana trip, I had heard about a very rare bird for our area in a neighborhood not too far from me, on the border of Phoenix and Scottsdale. The bird also visited the same yard last year at just about this time, just for a couple weeks. He has now left on his migration again but I was able to get some shots before he left.

Orchard Oriole, male

He was very flighty and spent a lot of time deep in the homeowner’s mesquite tree eating from her chuparosa (the reddish flowers). I was lucky to get one clear shot…and he was a lifer!

I also spotted this Gila Woodpecker couple checking out prime Scottsdale real estate. They usually nest in saguaros.

This was in the homeowner’s yard. She makes metal and clay wildlife sculptures.

Phoenix Wildlife, A Guest Post

AZ Necklace

Zillow recently approached me and asked to do a guest post about Phoenix since Glenrosa Journeys is primarily Phoenix-based. As I mentioned in my last post, it’s really hot here and I haven’t gone out photographing as much as I normally do, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to buy myself a little time. And since I ♥ Phoenix, I was also curious about what the author would say about my town. I am receiving no sort of compensation for this; I just thought it would be fun to take them up on it and I, personally, always enjoy looking around on Zillow…at houses I’ve lived in before, areas I’m interested in, houses I know are for sale, etc. I’ve added a few of my photos of places or wildlife that Satinder mentioned to personalize this post. Thanks to her, I have a couple new ideas of where to go…when it’s cooler.

PHX pendant

3 Areas in Phoenix with the Best Access to Wildlife


By Satinder Haer of Zillow

Arizona is known for its amazing wildlife and Phoenix specifically is packed with outdoor locations to soak up the sights. The state is home to six national forests, 22 national parks and dozens of wildlife refuges. Unlike other cities, you don’t have to live hours outside of Phoenix to have access to the city and the outdoors.
If you’re relocating to a new home in Phoenix, consider one of these three locations for close proximity to wildlife areas.

Deer Valley
Located only 18 miles north of downtown Phoenix, Deer Valley offers reasonably priced real estate and close proximity to the outdoors. The median home value in Deer Valley is $191,000, about one-third lower than home values in neighboring areas. Less than 10 minutes west of Deer Valley is the Thunderbird Conservation Park with inhabitants such as coyotes, gray and kit foxes as well as dozens of bird species. Some of the trail options are short enough to complete as a quick, evening workout while others require a full day.

Hassayampa River Preserve, early spring
Hassayampa River Preserve, early spring

On the weekend, you can venture an hour west to the Hassayampa River Preserve or an hour east to the Tonto National Forest. Spot over 280 bird species at Hassayampa, including yellow-rumped warblers and cedar waxwings or arrive at sunrise to see ringtails and bobcats emerging. Alternatively, head to Tonto and view a rare Chiricahua leopard frog or a banded sand snake. Exercise caution and follow site regulations regardless of outing.

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Hassayampa River Preserve, early spring

Ahwatukee Foothills Village
The urban village of Ahwatukee is located on the brink of South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the country. You can even find a house nestled into the mountain preserve if you want to live in the epicenter of nature. Housing prices are on the rise in the Ahwatukee Foothills with a median home value of $284,800. The home values in this area are expected to rise another 1.5 percent by next June, even after experiencing a growth of 2.5 percent in the last year. This growth is not unprecedented, since the village is a 20-minute drive from downtown Phoenix.

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White-Belted Ringtail Dragonfly

On weekends, drive 1.5 hours south to Sonoran Desert National Monument for endless hiking options. The Brittlebush Trail is an easy 6-mile hike known for bighorn sheep, desert mule deer and desert tortoise spotting. For a change of scenery, swing west to Estrella Mountain Regional Park and explore the unique wildflower vegetation.

Rocks Crop
Painted Lady Butterfly

Central City
You don’t even have to leave downtown Phoenix to see some of the best wildlife Arizona offers. Central City, which encompasses downtown, is actually the cheapest of these locations with a median home value of $100,800 and anticipated annual appreciation of 4.2 percent. Now is a great time to purchase a home in Central City if you want to live in the heart of the city and simultaneously experience Arizona’s outdoor adventures. During the summer, see hundreds of Mexican free-tail bats emerge in droves from a 7-mile underground tunnel (part of the Maricopa County Flood Control ditch) nicknamed the Phoenix Bat Cave. The southwest corner of 24th Street and Biltmore Circle is a great location for viewing the bats and spotting nighthawks.

Lesser Nighthawk 2
Lesser Nighthawk
Cactus Wren, AZ State Bird, Desert Botanical garden
Cactus Wren, AZ State Bird, Desert Botanical Garden

Later in the summer, enjoy butterfly season through guided walks at a number of locations within an hour drive of downtown: the Desert Botanical Garden, Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park and the Gilbert Riparian Preserve. Of course, if you’re willing to drive an hour in any direction, you can always find a national park or mountain trail to hike.

Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch
Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Wildlife seekers will not be disappointed by their decision to live in Phoenix—whether it’s in Central City, Ahwatukee Foothills Village or Deer Valley.

Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch
Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

[Note: Copper Necklace by Lisa Pauling of Be You Jewelry; Silver Necklace by Michelle Spanyard. They are both AZ artists.]