I escaped my quarantine the other day, in the late afternoon, for a couple of hours. I went to the Gilbert Riparian Preserve where I go about once a year. I should really go more often as there is an extreme diversity of all sorts of birds…water birds, songbirds, raptors, and always a rarity or 2. I went in pursuit of a rarity this time. I had seen literally hundreds of photos of a Roseate Spoonbill that has been there for a few weeks in my Facebook birding group. Most of the photos were so pretty, up close, so you could see its pink feathered fluffiness in detail. Well, I didn’t get there until about 4pm and I heard it had left for the day so I walked around looking, to no avail, but saw a lot of other birds. About 6pm, as it was getting dark, disappointed, I headed back to my car and saw it in a different pond than those it usually frequents! It was out quite a ways and it was getting dark so I didn’t get those pretty, detailed photos that I had seen from other people. But I saw it and it was awesome and it was a new life bird (lifer)! And I have proof:
It has giant black feet! This is not a bird that you find in Arizona normally. It likes Florida and Texas and other Gulf coasts. Actually, right now there are also 3 more of them at Glendale Recharge Ponds, too, on the completely opposite side of town. I would love to go see them and if it ever cools off here before they leave, I am going to go look for them, too.
But here are a few more of the birds I saw before finding it…
Great Blue Herons
This beautiful red amaranth was all over; I had never seen it there before.
Now for some songbirds…
Yellow-rumped Warblers (last photo indicates source of name)
Different than my yard birds! This makes me want to get back out there birding after this intense heat we have had, much longer than usual, and this horrible quarantine we’re in!!!! It was nice to have a change of scenery…
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:
American Wigeons, males
Northern Flicker, Red-shafted, female
Gilded Flicker, male
Mourning Dove, feeling sublime
Yellow-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.
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…
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.