We went looking for birds and stuff on Butcher Jones Trail at Saguaro Lake last week. It was supposed to be birdy. As usual, it wasn’t but it was nice anyway.
We saw more butterflies than I’ve ever seen in one place, many groups of several.
Southern Dogface (open wings) and other Sulphurs
Empress Leilia (a first)
Clark’s Grebe (lifer)
We saw this well-known guy with one foot in exactly the same place we saw him last November.
Great Blue Heron
More of the trail:
We briefly stopped at Coon Bluff Recreation Area on the Lower Salt River on the way back, hoping to see some eagles, wild horses, something, but no luck. It was a pretty view, though, and the fall colors were beginning so it was worth the stop.
And now we’re on to December…
Acorn Woodpecker, female
If you don’t live in the purple range below at an elevation over 4500 feet, maybe you’ve never seen one of these comical woodpeckers before. I hadn’t~at least not since I’ve been paying attention to birds. So I was excited to see a lot of them the other day when we went to Goldwater Lake in Prescott, AZ.
This is a granary tree, above, the main food storage “pantry” created and used by communal groups of these fascinating woodpeckers. They have a complex social system where family groups hold territories, and young woodpeckers stay with their parents for several years and help the parents raise more young. Several different individuals of each sex may breed within one family, with up to seven breeding males and three breeding females in one group (Cornell Lab). There can be up to 50,000 holes in one tree!
Acorn Woodpecker, male
This whole area was very birdy and beautiful! The dam separates the upper and lower lakes.
Western Bluebird, female
Western Bluebird, male
The Bluebirds were also lifers and the female was very accommodating. I have many shots of her. Also easy to photograph were the Juncos. I got a new subspecies, below. I also got another lifer, a Bridled Titmouse, but my photos are very blurry.
Dark-eyed Junco, Red-backed
This is actually a Prescott city park but it is part of Prescott National Forest. Nice trails.
Common Raven, snacking
Ruddy Duck, with blue bill in breeding plumage
Great Blue Heron
Marine Blue Butterfly
Last week I went in search of two rarities in town. Both are not only rare in AZ but rare in North America. This Mandarin Duck (drake) resides at Tempe Town Lake, just across the bridge in Tempe.
It’s a pretty big lake (for here) but he was the first duck I spotted in the water. No one quite knows his origins but I guess he has been there “awhile.”
“Mandarin Ducks are found in southeast Russia, China, Japan, and Korea. They were introduced into Britain and exported to many other countries. The largest populations are in Japan and Britain. Ducks found in North America are usually escapees from collections or feral ducks in small numbers. There is a small colony of Mandarin Ducks in northern California. Their habitat is marshes, streams, and pools in wooded areas. They are partial migrators, migrating in early September.” (Birding Information)
I have about 80 shots of him but I whittled them down to these few. He was extremely handsome, colorful, and small.
While there, I also spotted this immature Herring Gull, 1st winter, above. I stopped at another Tempe park after that, Evelyn Hallman Park, but spotted no more rarities or lifers, just these cute guys:
Stay tuned for the next rarity I saw last week…
American Wigeon, female
Ring-Necked Duck, drake
Anna’s Hummingbird, male
Yellow-Rumped Warbler, female
Here are some baby birdies from late summer that I never posted. This is a Green Heron youngster, cartoonishly peeking out from the reeds:
And this is a Pied-Billed Grebe adolescent:
Fall’s in full swing here, finally!