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
Bald Eagle, immature
This is either Hope or Joy, one of 2 Bald Eagles hatched in a nest in a Scottsdale golf course last spring (in a densely populated area). They were well-known locally then and each of them fell from their nest as nestlings and were placed back in by Arizona Game and Fish and Liberty Wildlife rehabbers. You can read their story and see them as babies here and here. I never saw them last year as their exact location was a secret, for their safety.
Anyway, I was at Lake Marguerite, which isn’t far from that golf course, a couple times recently looking for a Hairy Woodpecker and the second time I looked up and Hope or Joy was watching me! It’s always exciting to see a bald eagle, I think, and he/she took off right as I watched, zipped over the lake, swooped down, grabbed a fish, and flew off right by me. And I even saw the Hairy Woodpecker (which was my 12th lifer this year) but the photo is basically a black and white blur so I won’t show it here. However, I got a couple shots of this girl:
Ladder-backed Woodpecker, female
I was also at Granada Park recently, my old standby park that I don’t visit much anymore, and I was surprised to see this beautiful guy watching me from the trees. While not a lifer, it was the best shots I’ve ever gotten of one.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s
And when I was recently volunteering at the Desert Botanical Garden, I walked around afterwards and saw a few more critters.
Gila Woodpecker, male
Costa’s Hummingbird, male
Costa’s hummingbird, female
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…
Fountain Hills, AZ, is home to a world-famous fountain that operates daily and shoots water 562 feet high. I was there on December 15th and today, New Year’s Day, Tony and I went back. Fountain Park is a beautiful place with a 29 acre lake and the park is filled with sculptures and recreation areas. It has changed a lot since the last time I was there years ago. This is my favorite sculpture there:
But…the reason I initially went was because I wanted to see these guys, and I did…fun-loving Hooded Mergansers, a lifer. Both drakes and hens were there.
The second lifer I saw there was this female Common Goldeneye:
And the third lifer I saw, today, to start out 2016, was this Eared Grebe.
Love those red eyes. And I also saw these guys:
Ruddy Duck, male
Ruddy Duck, female
Northern Shovelers, churning up their food
The first day I was there, which was cold and windy, I also saw these birds:
Great-tailed Grackle, female
Red-winged Blackbird, male
House Sparrow, female
I hope the new year has started out fortuitously for you, too.