I met a very “confiding” bird when we went back to Seven Springs, north of Cave Creek, the other day. It really enjoyed being photographed, I think.
Some of its relatives were in a sycamore tree in one of the campgrounds. Ash-throated Flycatchers are secondary cavity nesters, meaning that they rely on nest holes originally made by other species, such as woodpeckers, or they use naturally occurring cavities in standing dead trees (Cornell). One guarded this nest while the other went to get food.
I got a lifer, only the second for 2019. Things have been tough. Bad shot:
It’s very lush there.
Argentine Thistle plus Bee
This is what the above spot looked like in December 2017.
One more of my cooperative friend:
Previous visits to Seven Springs: December 2017 and April 2018.
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.
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!
Red-winged Blackbird (female)
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (at least the flowers are in focus)
And a few other critters crossed our path:
Painted Lady Butterfly
Checkered White Butterfly
Common 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.
New Waddell Dam
The new dam submerged the older, much smaller dam.
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.
It’s spring in the desert! We went to Bartlett Lake to see the wildflowers that everyone has been raving about. With all the rain we’ve had, it’s supposed to be a great year for them and it was really beautiful: the lake and the wildflowers. It was a perfect day, temperatures in the 60s, deep blue skies, and wispy clouds.
Bartlett Lake is a reservoir that was formed by the damming of the Verde River, completed in 1939.
We could even see snow-covered Four Peaks in the distance.
This is the Yellow Cliffs area:
The rocks of the cliffs take on their yellow coloration due to an extensive colony of yellow “crustose” lichen.
We saw quite a few people taking photos of the wildflowers but the lake itself was very quiet. One of the best things about being retired is being able to go places during the week and avoiding the crowds. We didn’t even see any ducks or other water birds.
Mexican Poppies and Lupines
The white poppies are rarer.
You can barely see snow-covered Mt. Ord in the distance, above, but this is it closer, below. You can see all the towers on top.
All-in-all, it was a very nice day.
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.
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.
Cactus Wrens, Arizona’s State Bird
These two were also together so I imagine they are mates, too.
Painted Lady Butterfly
There were really pretty views here.
A perfect plump Saguaro after all our rain
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…
It’s been in the 80s the last couple of days; the snow has all melted. Spring is coming to the desert.
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.
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…
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!