Reach 11 Nature Trail

Roadrunner_edited-1Greater Roadrunner with lunch

Reach 11, in north Phoenix, is part of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department but it exists for flood control. A 7-mile long earthen dam keeps flood waters out of the nearby canal and out of housing developments to the south. The area where the nature trails are is only about 1 mile wide. Amazingly, this place is not well-known at all. I only heard about it from some birders recently. Driving down the busy street where the entrance is, one would never know what a beautiful place it is. Someone described it as a “hidden gem,” and it really is. From the street it just looks like desert scrub.

This poor, old, decrepit saguaro is at the beginning of the trail. We saw a bird fly into it so stopped to watch.

Saguaro R11

Who’s that?

Gila in Cactus 1

Gila in Hole_edited-1

It’s a male Gila Woodpecker. There must be a nest in there.

Gila Bill in Hole_edited-1

He was kind of shy. But then we saw more action…

Starling in Hole_edited-1

A European Starling. It had a nest in one of the center holes and kept flying in and out with food. We could hear babies chirping every time a delivery was made.

Then we saw someone else fly in the other side…

Flicker on Cactus_edited-1

A Gilded Flicker (male) seems to have a nest, too…

Flicker Butt in Hole_edited-1

Flicker in Hole_edited-1

We stayed on the trail and didn’t disrupt the nesters but I’m sure they were pleased we left. We also saw another Starling head into a hole in the back so this saguaro is home to at least 4 different nests now. Who knows what else might be living in there? The wind was really blowing hard and gusting while we were there so I hope when that poor saguaro falls that there are no nests left.

After we walked a little more, we started to see the “hidden gem” part of this area. It was very lush back in there, all sorts of grasses, wildflowers, etc.

Wild Plants

Thru the Trees

There was a mesquite bosque and a little hidden pond in there, full of tadpoles, called Bullfrog Pond. It was really peaceful and pretty. No one was around but one biker.

Pond 1

Tree Tunnel

Globe MallowGlobe Mallow

LizardCommon Side-blotched Lizard

BTGCBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher

Hummer R11Anna’s Hummingbird

I know this place is teeming with birds and other wildlife but it was so windy that day that the birds were having a hard time staying airborne. It’s definitely a place we will return to as it’s only about 20 minutes from our house and very unique.

*The reason this recreation area is called “Reach 11” is because it’s on the 11th reach of the Central Arizona Project canal. Across the street from the nature trail is a huge sports complex with 20 soccer fields, an equestrian area, and more.

 

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Lake Pleasant

Burros 2

Burro Tracker

Burros Running

Burros Cavorting

Burros in Field

Burro 1

Burro 2_edited-1

Burro in Field

Burros 4

We went to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, northwest of Phoenix, last week. What I mostly wanted to see were the wild burros and we did! The herd is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and there are anywhere from 480-600 from what I’ve read. They are descendants of burros brought over from South Africa in the 1600s. 100 wild burros (jacks) were freeze marked and 55 jennies (female burros) were radio collared to help study and monitor the herd. Some are removed at times and put up for adoption while living and being cared for at a BLM facility. You can read more about this program here.

WB Trail Sign

This is the trail we hiked to try to find them. We didn’t see any there but, fortunately, we saw them even before we started hiking. It was extra nice to see them with some wildflowers around; they looked especially cute frolicking through the flowers.

And we actually saw a few birds!

Say's Phoebe

Say's Phoebe on Flowers_edited-1Say’s Phoebes

Rock Wren

Rock Wren Singing

Rock Wren Ocotillo

Rock Wren in BranchesRock Wrens

Red-winged Blackbird FRed-winged Blackbird (female)

Black-tailed GnatcatcherBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher (at least the flowers are in focus)

And a few other critters crossed our path:

Painted LadyPainted Lady Butterfly

Checkered White ButterflyCheckered White Butterfly

Common Side-blotched LizardCommon Side-blotched Lizard (check out his tongue!)

And we saw the lake, too, of course! This is a lake I used to go sailing on back in the mid-1980s…all the time…almost every weekend for 3-4 years. Since then it has been enlarged a lot so it didn’t really look at all familiar. The lake now covers 10,000 acres and is fed by the Central Arizona Project Aqueduct which diverts water from the Colorado River as well as the Agua Fria River. It was pretty cloudy when we were there and not many boats were on the lake.

Dam

Dam ControllerNew Waddell Dam

Waddell Dam

The new dam submerged the older, much smaller dam.

Lake View_edited-1

Lake View 2

Panorama x 4_edited-1

This is a 4 shot panorama of the lake. You can see a larger version of it on my Flickr. It was fascinating to see how the lake has changed, I loved everything we saw.

RoseGlobe Mallow

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Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

Glowing Cholla 3

Glowing Cholla PSP

Glowing Cholla 2

Longshot

Much like the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve, located in North Phoenix, has over 18,000 acres of beautiful desert views including 36 miles of exciting multi-use trails. The wildflowers were just beginning to bloom but the tons of Chollas were glowing in the sun.

We were at the Apache Wash Trailhead where a mountain biker crashed into a rattlesnake that same day and was bit. We did see an ambulance but didn’t know about this until seeing it on the news that night. It’s rattler season.

BTSP Gathering 2 PSP

BTSP 3

BTSP Gathering PSPBlack-throated Sparrows

The female Black-throated Sparrow is the nest builder (you can see her gathered materials in her bill) and a breeding pair is very territorial so the one on the nearby cactus must have been her mate.

CW PSP

Cactus Wren 3 SagCactus Wrens, Arizona’s State Bird

These two were also together so I imagine they are mates, too.

Painted Lady PSPPainted Lady Butterfly

Mexican Poppy PSPMexican Poppy

Purple FlowersScorpion Weed

Purple Wildflower

BrittlebushBrittlebush

Rock

Longshot 2

Another Longshot

There were really pretty views here.

Fat Sag PSPA perfect plump Saguaro after all our rain

4 Peaks in Distance

It was hazy but in the distance, we could see Four Peaks, 42 miles away, as the crow flies, still covered with the recent snow.

The day before, we drove around trying to get a good view of Four Peaks with the snow, away from houses and buildings. This was taken somewhere north of Fountain Hills…

4 Peaks 1

It’s been in the 80s the last couple of days; the snow has all melted. Spring is coming to the desert.

Estrella Mountain Regional Park

Red-tailed Hawk

RTHA Over ShoulderRed-tailed Hawk

Isn’t he/she gorgeous? We went to another of Maricopa County’s Regional Parks the other day. It was a gloomy, cloudy day and the park left a lot to be desired. It was definitely the least attractive of all the county parks we’ve visited. This hawk was really the only redeeming factor for me.

RTHA 2

RTHA Flying

We saw a Red-tailed Hawk 3 different times while there so I don’t know if this is the same one as the first 2 photos. The one in the first 2 photos was a very cooperative poser and there was even a little sun by then so it was a great photo op. Thank you, Hawk.

Everything else was pretty mediocre. I had a couple of target birds but we didn’t see them…

Sag Old

Sag Detail

Mtns

Purple Flower

Say's PhoebeSay’s Phoebe

VEFLVermilion Flycatcher

EM Yellow Flowers

EM Scrub

Not a park I would go to again but we did get a free pass to go to another county park so it kind of evened out.

Valentine’s Day is also Arizona Statehood Day. This is a very big saguaro superimposed on a 1912 map. Happy 107th Birthday, Arizona!

Map and Sag

An Assortment

roadrunnerlong_edited-1

roadrunnerGreater Roadrunner

yrwabathingYellow-Rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

verdinVerdin

Those photos were taken at Desert Botanical Garden a couple weeks ago when I took a friend there.

Tony and I have not gone on one of our day trips for a few weeks now but we went over to Granada Park the other day, which was a dreary day, and saw these birds:

vf1

vf2Vermilion Flycatcher (first I’ve seen in central Phoenix area)

rndufemaleRing-necked Duck, female

wcspimmWhite-crowned Sparrow, first winter

giwogranadaGila Woodpecker

And then the yard birds…

bbhu1.26Broad-billed Hummingbird, female (Yard Bird #46)

She was a new yard bird! And a rare bird for the area! I reported her on eBird and it was confirmed. These birds normally don’t come much further north than southeastern Arizona although a few others have been reported in our area this winter. I would so love a male to show up because this is what they look like (we saw this one in Madera Canyon earlier this year):

BBHU_edited-1

Aren’t they gorgeous? Of course, all hummingbirds are beautiful. The one below is an Anna’s female, you can see how different she looks from the Broad-billed female.

anna27sgirl1.26

gilawp1.26Gila Woodpecker, male

mock1.26Northern Mockingbird

yrwa1.26Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

I saw this guy a few weeks ago and then he disappeared. Now I saw another one in our yard the other day by itself so don’t know if the same one returned:

wcspfos2

wcspfosWhite-crowned Sparrow

And then my very favorite yard bird, Tink, was kind enough to pose away from the feeders the other day:

ocwa11.26

ocwa31.26

ocwa41.26

An amazing thing happened just before I took these photos. A hawk (Sharp-shinned, I think, but I didn’t get a photo) crashed through the mesquite tree where the feeders are looking for a snack, I guess. I know they need to eat but I was pleased it came out empty-taloned. It then landed on my neighbor’s garage while I ran in to get the camera and it took off just as I tried to get a shot. I really hope it gets its meals somewhere other than our yard…so does Tink.

ocwa21.26Orange-crowned Warbler