On another recent day when we had a reprieve from Phoenix’s heat, we headed to a destination about 30 miles away…Chandler, AZ…and Veteran’s Oasis Park, a new-to-us park. It’s a Chandler City Park with a community fishing lake but it also has several recharge (water treatment) ponds that are very wild. In fact, they are almost too wild to be able to see much wildlife but I’m sure the animals appreciate it. This is a very pretty park.
Black-tailed Jackrabbits galore
Turkey Vultures galore
Flame Skimmer Dragonfly
San Tan Mountains
Great Blue Heron
Blue Dasher Dragonfly
They have blinds scattered around to observe/photograph the wildlife but the reeds and other plants are so overgrown that there isn’t much of a view.
From the recharge ponds, you can look out over farmland…from arid desert to green crops.
Homes with a farm view
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!
Black-crowned Night Heron
Last weekend I met some birding friends at The Riparian Preserve At Water Ranch in Gilbert, a Phoenix suburb. It’s usually just referred to as Gilbert Riparian. It’s really the place to go to see mega-birds but, being lazy, I seldom go there because it’s about 30 miles from home…which isn’t much, I know. I should go more because I got 8 lifers there that day!
Here they are:
It’s kind of dark there in many places and some of the ponds (there are 7) were very low so the ducks were far away. The water levels fluctuate because it’s part of Gilbert’s water treatment system so a lot of my photos were not great.
Spotted Towhee, Green-winged Teal, Cattle Egret, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Harrier
And I also got a really, really bad photo of a Song Sparrow that I’m not posting but it was also a lifer although I’m sure I’ve seen them around a lot in life as they’re quite common. But I only count birds as lifers if I have seen and photographed them since starting to bird.
And a few more non-lifers rounded out the morning.
Ruddy Duck, male
American Kestrel, male
After spending a few hours there, my friends and I went on to Apache Junction, where one of them lives, and spent the afternoon on her beautiful patio at the foot of the Superstition Mountains where she attracts a ton of birds and where I got some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. Next time…
A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I had seen two rarities lately. This is the second one and he comes from the same part of the world as the first rarity, the Mandarin Duck. This is an Eurasian Wigeon drake.
“Common and widespread in the Old World, the Eurasian Wigeon is a sporadic visitor to North America. Regular in very small numbers along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, single individuals have turned up in nearly all states and provinces. The Eurasian Wigeons seen each year in North America likely come from eastern Siberia and Iceland.” (All About Birds)
He is at a park in Glendale, AZ, and this is his third winter there so he must enjoy it. He is still in his “eclipse plumage” and will become a rich auburn color in another month or 2 when he is in his breeding plumage. I saw photos of him taken last February and he was gorgeous so I might go out and see him again.
As a comparison, here are some American Wigeons (that he was hanging out with):
American Wigeon, drake
American Wigeon, hen
I also saw these guys at the same park:
Great Blue Heron
And he has landed!
These are all female Yellow-Rumped Warblers (Audubon’s) above. The males have yellow on the tops of their heads, too. These little warblers are the opposite of those I’ve shown lately. These guys head north for the summer, sometimes as close as northern AZ, and come back here for the winter. They have begun arriving. Several people saw their firsts of the year yesterday as did I.
I’ve had a few more lifer birds lately:
The following birds are not lifers but have crossed my path recently. I see Great Blue Herons often but the one, below, is the first I’ve ever seen at Granada Park:
American Kestrel, male
And a couple Verdins, which I see and post a lot. The one, below, was in a little greenbelt close to home. It was building a nest. Both the males and females build nests and they both look the same.
Below is a Verdin nest in our yard in our pine tree. The openings are usually on the side or bottom of the nest.
This is one of the Verdins in our yard, maybe the builder of the nest:
These photos were taken at home and several parks: Granada Park, Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden, Dreamy Draw Recreation Area, and 20th Street and Highland.