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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Critters Prettily Lit

Thrasher BuffetedCurve-billed Thrasher

The above bird was seen at Glendale Xeriscape Garden (on a very windy day). I’ve been to quite a few locations in the past couple of weeks looking for birds but didn’t get enough good shots at any to make a post on their own so the theme here is “pretty lighting.”

Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center:Hummer AudubonAnna’s Hummingbird, male

Phoebe Stick 1Black Phoebe

Sorry, Dragonfly :(
Sorry, Dragonfly 😦

Tempe Town Lake:Verdin Munch 2Verdin

Desert Botanical Garden:Finch BabyHouse Finch, juvenile

RT Ground SquirrelRound-tailed Ground Squirrel

Glenrosa Estates (our yard):Towhee PineAbert’s Towhee

2 SkippersCommon-checkered and Fiery Skippers

IncasInca Doves

Liz MesquiteTree Lizard

Gila WPGila Woodpecker, male

BCHU BuzzyBlack-chinned Hummingbird, male

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*I’m adding this post to the weekly WordPress Photo Challenge because it represents how I view the Earth through my lens. Check some of the other blog posts out.

Rarity #1

Mandarin Swim 2

Mandarin Swim 3

Last week I went in search of two rarities in town. Both are not only rare in AZ but rare in North America. This Mandarin Duck (drake) resides at Tempe Town Lake, just across the bridge in Tempe.

Drink

Mandarin Head On_edited-1

It’s a pretty big lake (for here) but he was the first duck I spotted in the water. No one quite knows his origins but I guess he has been there “awhile.”

Mandarin Mug

“Mandarin Ducks are found in southeast Russia, China, Japan, and Korea.  They were introduced into Britain and exported to many other countries. The largest populations are in Japan and Britain.  Ducks found in North America are usually escapees from collections or feral ducks in small numbers. There is a small colony of Mandarin Ducks in northern California. Their habitat is marshes, streams, and pools in wooded areas.  They are partial migrators, migrating in early September.” (Birding Information)

Mandarin Stand

Swim Other

I have about 80 shots of him but I whittled them down to these few. He was extremely handsome, colorful, and small.

Herring Gull 11.22.15

While there, I also spotted this immature Herring Gull, 1st winter, above. I stopped at another Tempe park after that, Evelyn Hallman Park, but spotted no more rarities or lifers, just these cute guys:

GrebePied-billed Grebe

Green Heron 11.15Green Heron

Stay tuned for the next rarity I saw last week…

Back to the Park

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So, let’s head back to the park where we saw the Snowy Egret the other day and I’ll show you some more of the local wildlife and scenery. (Click on photos for more detail.)

Checkered White

Checkered White Butterfly…

Gila  Woodpecker

My first Gila Woodpecker…but he went back here, below, before I could get a frontal shot…

Cactus

Ground Squirrel

Round-tailed Ground Squirrel…he saw his shadow so there will be 6 more months of summer.

Nest

Pigeon

Roosting pigeons…

Dragonfly

Damselfly…

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Cormorant 2

What is that on those submerged trees?

Cormorant

A Cormorant! I think it’s the same one mentioned in John Romeo Alpha’s post here…really.

E37

E37! Bingo.

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Hawk

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Snowy

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We went for a walk on Sunday through Evelyn Hallman Park in Tempe, a park I used to visit a lot over 20 years ago when it was called Canal Park.

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I was so excited, toward the end of our walk around the pond there, to see this guy (or girl). In fact, there were 2 of them but I only got shots of one. We first spotted him high in a tree overlooking the pond, searching for a meal. I’ve never seen an egret (or heron) in a tree before.

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This is the first Snowy Egret I’ve been able to photograph. What I usually see are the larger Great Egrets (here are some and here is one). Great Egrets have yellow bills and dark legs and feet. Snowy Egrets have dark bills, black legs, and yellow feet (which are somewhat comical).

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We saw some other interesting birds and critters there, which I’ll show you in my next post. And he took off, soaring over the pond with his friend…

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