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…

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

Hello, October!

Desert CottontailDesert Cottontail

Dragonfly SXGMexican Amberwing, female

Vermiflion FC 3 SXG_edited-1

Vermilion FC 2 SXGVermilion Flycatcher, female

October is a good month for Phoenix since the mornings and nights get cooler, although the days can still get hot. Right now, we have the remnants of Hurricane Rosa bringing us rain and clouds so it’s cooler than normal, high 70s-80s. Feels great after a long, hot summer.

The above photos were taken at Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden one day last week. I love the light there. I often see warblers there during migration but not this time.

The next few photos were taken yesterday at Desert Botanical Garden on a gloomy day. I mistakenly thought the birds would be out in full force but I was wrong again. There were a ton of Queens, though.

Queen 1

Queen 3Queen Butterfly

Cactus Wren Lomo

Cactus Wren 2Cactus Wrens

QuailGambel’s Quail, male

Bee and Sunflower

SulphurSulphur with tattered wings

Verdin 2Verdin, mid-snack

I just don’t know where all the migrating birds are!!! I keep looking. The following photos were taken in our yard last week. The skippers are out in full force.

Skipper 9.23Fiery Skipper in Lantana

Svengi as ElvisSvengali does Elvis

It’s definitely beginning to look and feel like Fall here. Happy October!

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Global Big Day

Desert Spiny Lizard (regrowing his tail after some incident or accident)

Phainopepla, male

On May 5, Global Big Day, 28,000 people ventured outside in 170 countries, finding 6899 species: 2/3rds of the world’s bird species in one day. This is a new world record for birding and more birds seen by the Global Big Day team than any one person has ever seen in an entire year. You can read more about the results here.

My birding friend, Karen, and I went to Hassayampa Reserve Preserve, near Wickenburg, that day so that we could participate. By submitting our sightings to ebird.org, our results are included in all this data, too.

I have a slight disclaimer. While we did see many Desert Spiny Lizards and Phainopeplas that day, the above 2 photos are actually from another day when I was at Desert Botanical Garden because the shots I got on May 5 were not as good. That said, all the following shots were taken at Hassayampa on May 5. It is very dense and dark there, tree-wise, so I’m not pleased with many of these shots.

Yellow-breasted Chat (lifer)

This bird, above, was the bird both of us were most hoping to see as it was a lifer for both of us. They were very elusive but I finally got a couple mediocre shots. You can see, in the second photo, that this bird has a band around its left leg.

I got 2 more lifers that day (with no photos):

Common Yellowthroat
Lazuli Bunting~the male is gorgeous but we saw only the female, pretty but not nearly as colorful

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Myrtle subspecies

The above bird was a little unusual to see as we usually see the Audubon’s subspecies around here. The Audubon’s has a yellow throat and the Myrtle has a white throat and other subtle differences.

Vermilion Flycatchers, male and female

Wilson’s Warbler, male

Townsend’s Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Song Sparrow

Summer Tanager, male

Pine Siskin

Red-winged Blackbirds, male and female

Ornate Tree Lizard

A couple more excerpts from the article I mentioned earlier:

For the second year in a row, Colombia led the world in bird species on Global Big Day. The herculean efforts of the Colombian birding community found an unfathomable 1546 species in one country in one day.

The final US tally was 716, bolstered by great totals from Texas (408), California (361), and Arizona (310). US eBirders also documented 577 species with photographs in their eBird checklists, and 172 with audio—quite remarkable!

And there you have it—another birding world record in the books! Never before have so many birders gone out in this many countries, found so many birds, and noted them all down in eBird for their fellow birders, researchers, and conservationists.