Escape to Gilbert

Mexican Amberwing on Amaranth

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 Egrets

Great Blue Herons

Green Heron

Snowy Egret

This beautiful red amaranth was all over; I had never seen it there before.

Mallard in Amaranth

Now for some songbirds…

Yellow-rumped Warblers (last photo indicates source of name)

Say’s Phoebe
White-crowned Sparrow
Vermilion Flycatcher, immature male, SO CUTE!
Orange-crowned Warbler
Townsend’s Warbler

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…

Out of Range

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Some rare birds have been at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve (Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch) for the last few weeks and are still there. They are very unusual for Arizona as they are eastern U.S. birds. My birding friend, Marika, and I went there two weeks ago. I knew exactly where they were reported in the preserve~down to the exact trees and bench by the trees. We sat on the bench and all 3 of them came to us. They were all extremely fast and flighty and blended in with the cottonwood leaves so it was still challenging to get some photos.

Northern Parula

Black-and-White Warbler

It was pretty exciting to find them all. There were a couple more rare birds also reported there but we were unable to find those. Nevertheless, we were very pleased. I still may go back there soon.

Orange-crowned Warbler

This bird, above, is not uncommon here in the winter but I always like to see them. Last March Marika and I also went birding at the preserve and didn’t have as lucky of a day but I never posted any photos from that visit, basically because I had so few but here they are…

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Snowy Egret

Song Sparrow

Black-necked Stilt

And I also have a few photos from a trip I took to the Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden back in late October. I was happy to see the bird below. It’s only the third time I’ve seen this species. They are not very common here but they are not considered rare. This particular bird posed very nicely for me for several minutes.

Hermit Thrush

Here are a couple more from that day…

Desert Cottontail

Black Phoebe

Anna’s Hummingbirds

Northern Mockingbird

Trying to catch up with the surplus of photos I have from 2017…hard to believe the year is coming to a close, isn’t it?

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Tempe

Snowy Fishing

SnowySnowy Egret

Last week I went to Tempe Town Lake which is a reservoir that occupies a portion of the dry riverbed of the Salt River (Río Salado). It’s 2 miles long and covers 224 acres. There are many beaches and parks along its length.

Cliff Swallow 1Cliff Swallow

River Sign

This is one of 603 10-inch-by-10-inch granite tablets placed at 24-foot intervals in the wall along the lake, written by Alberto Ríos, Arizona’s first Poet Laureate, telling the story of the Rio Salado.

Rios 2

OspreyOsprey

Back in February and March, the lake was drained to install a new dam on the west end. The City of Tempe replaced the inflatable rubber dam system with a new hydraulically-operated steel gate dam which is the country’s largest hydraulically-operated steel gate dam system. I was at the same little beach park back in March when the lake was almost empty (searching for a particular bird that I never found).

Lake Drained

GullsFranklin’s Gulls

However, in the almost empty lake, I did see about 10 of these gulls which, apparently, were quite rare to the area and, after I posted the above poor photo to my Facebook birding group, several other people went in search of those gulls over the next few days.

But the lake is full again now with nice clean water. When I was there the other day I also stopped by a little place close by on Arizona State University’s (my alma mater) main Tempe campus.

ASU DAP

It’s a small park, only 2.5 acres, used for research.

DAP Bio Sign

I have a feeling that, at the right time of the year, this little park is pretty birdy given its close proximity to the lake as well as having some reedy ponds and streams of its own but it wasn’t real active when I was there.

Finch CactusHouse Finch

FlycatcherAsh-throated Flycatcher

VerdinVerdin

But the best part of that little park was this beautiful metal gate at the entrance.

ASU Gate

ASU Gate 2

Fabricated from recycled steel piping, the botanic-themed gate Urban Forestry welcomes visitors and was donated to ASU by sculptors Joe Tyler and Scott Cisson. Here’s a photo of the gate closed from Joe Tyler’s website:

ASU-Desert-Arboretum-Park-Gates

He’s got some beautiful pieces displayed on his website if you enjoy metal work.

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Papago Winter

Snowy 1

Snowy 2Snowy Egret

These photos were from a recent late afternoon visit to Papago Park in Phoenix.

PhoebeBlack Phoebe

Ring-necked Duck Head

Ring-necked DuckRing-Necked Duck Drake

CormorantNeotropic Cormorant

Snowy 3Snowy and Cormy

Shoveler ReedsNorthern Shoveler

Papago has a lot of reeds which can make for interesting patterns on the water.

GallinuleCommon Gallinule, immature

GrebePied-Billed Grebe

I went there in search of these lifers, Northern Pintails, and I found them. There were 3 drakes and a popular hen.

Pintail 5

Pintail 1

Pintail Couple

Pintail 4

Pintail 3

Pintail 2

After posing nicely, they swam off into the sunset.

4 Pintails

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