December 6th, 2009: Patagonia Lake State Park, Sweetwater Wetlands
This weekend (5-6 December 09), my Dad and I went on a trip to Patagonia
Lake State Park, where birding was awesome! We also made stops at
Sweetwater Wetlands (both days, way up and way back), Madera Canyon, and
San Rafael Grasslands.
We arrived at Patagonia Lake just before dark, so we birded at the lake
this morning for a few hours, mainly along the birding trail. The EASTERN
PHOEBE was still present from where it was reported earlier, with both
BLACK and SAY'S present in the same immediate area. My first ever triple
Phoebe day! But my favorite sighting of the morning wasn't as rare, but
was actually my first lifer ARIZONA WOODPECKER, in which I saw two around
the birding trail. What an awesome bird that is! I was also very
surprised as we came up upon an AMERICAN BITTERN right along the lake's
east end. It stood out in the clear open for awhile before moving into
more dense cover. Towards the end of the birding trail where the
vegetation gets very thick along the creek, a PAINTED REDSTART sang in a
cottonwood, where I got great views of the bird. Waterfowl wise, birds
were good, especially at the eastern end of the lake. AMERICAN WIGEONS,
LESSER SCUAPS, BUFFLEHEADS, C. GOLDENEYES, C. MERGANSERS, RUDDY DUCKS, and
WESTERN and EARED GREBES were all present. A few other birds of note
included HERMIT THRUSH, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, and an ASH-THROATED
FLYCATCHER (present near the Birding Trail trailhead).
After Patagonia Lake, we made an unsuccessful visit to San Rafael Valley.
High wind conditions made it very difficult to locate the grassland
species. 2 adult male NORTHERN HARRIERS were rather nice though.
2 stops at Sweetwater Wetlands, one on Saturday morning, and the other on
Sunday afternoon, I didn't see anything too unusual, but hey, any visit to
Sweetwater is fantastic regardless. Birds I enjoyed there included
LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH, CEDAR WAXWING, HERMIT THRUSH, and the SNOWY EGRET.
On Saturday morning, I missed the Eastern Phoebe there by a few minutes.
I came upon a group of birders who saw it just before I got there, but
Patagonia made up for it.
This was only my 2nd real trip to Southeastern Arizona, lame for an
I also would like to mention this new birding application for the ipod and
iphone. Its called Birdseye and its awesome. Its based alot off of
ebird, and provides directions to locations of where birds are being seen
at. Definetely worth checking out!
December 9th, 2009-Tres Rios Wetlands: Bald Eagles
This afternoon I spent an enjoyable hour and a half at Tres Rios Wetlands,
with several interesting sightings.
The best sighting I had was the pair of BALD EAGLES(probably the same pair
as my post several weeks ago), which were in large trees south of the
Wetlands. There are 4 big trees all pretty close to each other, in which
raptors commonly perch in. In one of the trees is a very large nest,
which has usually been vacant in times past that I have visited. But
today, one of the Eagles sat in the nest while the other perched closeby.
They flew around several times, and one would usually land right back in
Does anybody know if they have nested here at this location in the past?
I think this nest has been here awhile, but it is interesting to me that
they are using it. If anyone knows anything about them nesting in the
past here, please let me know, cause I'd like to hear about it.
I also took a distant shot of the bird, which shows the birds in the
nest. Not the best video, but it shows the nest clearly, and the Bald
Eagle field marks are clear.
Bald Eagle video link-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbn2b9oD3BQ
If anyone is interested in looking at this nest and possibly seeing this
pair of Eagles, they can be viewed right from the Tres Rios area. Right
past the immediate Tres Rios ponds to the east is a path that leads out to
the 83rd avenue pond. To the south is where these large trees are located.
Other birds of interest at Tres Rios included several SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS,
WHITE-FACED IBISES, BELTED KINGFISHER and a very large immature ACCIPITER-
like hawk. I wouldn't dare to shout out Goshawk (ha ha ha) in this low of
elevation, but that's almost what it seemed like to me. I saw it's color
briefly but not great, and I watched it flying away to a distant area for
over a minute. It flew with three wingbeats and a glide everytime,
typical accipiter. Flight dihedral was nearly flat, with the wings raised
slightly. It was easily Red-tailed Hawk size.
On my way home while driving down 91st Avenue, I came across two
FERRUGINOUS HAWKS, one just north of Tres Rios, and the other one north of
Broadway. I got video of both, especially the second one. The video link
of the Ferruginous Hawk is below, enjoy!
Ferruginous Hawk video- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0se8x2l2pyw
Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)
December 11th, 2009-Birding: Gilbert, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Glendale-Eurasian Wigeon
Today I took a long birding trip around town, and it was awesome! I
stopped at Gilbert Water Ranch, Rousseau Sod Farm, different ponds in
Scottsdale, Tres Rios Wetlands, and Glendale Recharge Ponds.
My first stop was at Gilbert Water Ranch, where I recorded 51 species in
two hours. I usually stay here alot longer, but in winter there are never
as many birds to search through, compared to spring and fall. I did have
a few notible sightings. The first was an adult COMMON MOORHEN in pond
7. I think Moorhens are probably uncommon here, this is the first I've
ever seen of one here. They aren't reported much either. Also, I found
my first NORTHERN CARDINAL (female) here at GWR, which I have never seen
here either. Nothing else was really of note.
Following GRW, I made my first visit to the Rousseau Sod Farm, which I
really enjoyed. I got to see both WESTERN and MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS, a
PEREGRINE and PRAIRIE FALCON and an OSPREY at this location. I failed to
find any Longspurs.
I then decided to look through some ponds in Scottsdale for various
waterfowl. There wasn't much at McCormick Ranch, but as I was near
Chaparral Park, I went up Hayden Road to check some of those ponds. I got
lucky and came across a EURASIAN WIGEON in a series of small ponds at the
edge of a residential area at the southwest corner of Hayden and
Jackrabbit Roads, across the street from Chaparral Park. The Eurasian was
of course with many American Wigeons. This location has to be accessed by
foot and crossing the street. When I first drove by and noticed the
ponds, I wasn't going to stop, but a smaller looking Canada Goose grabbed
my attention. I wanted to check in case for a Cackling, and I got a
Eurasian Wigeon out of it. Sometimes luck wins out that way!
A stop at Tres Rios for an hour produced LEAST BITTERN, BLACK VULTURE, 2
OSPREYS (one had a fish), SHARP-SHINNED and COOPER'S HAWKS, and a calling
Going north up 91st Avenue and just past Broadway, I came across the
FERRUGINOUS HAWK again perched on a pole, who seems to love this area.
My final stop of the day was at Glendale Recharge Ponds. Driving up to
the ponds I had a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK perched in a tree close to the dirt
road. A few OSPREYS were present. Waterfowl numbers continue to be
good. CANADA GEESE, GADWALLS, one LESSER SCAUP, BUFFLEHEADS, COMMON
GOLDENEYES (probably around 15), and 6 COMMON MERGANSERS (one drake, 5
hens) where species of note.
88 species for the day (16 duck species, 10 raptor species)
December 17th, 2009-Southwest Phoenix Birding
Sorry for the late post, but my computer has been down. I spent the
morning and early afternoon yesterday (17 Dec) showing two of my friends,
Joe Phillips and Joel Pearson, around different birding sites in the
southwest part of Phoenix. We stopped at Tres Rios Wetlands, Baseline and
Meridian Wildlife Area, and the Glendale Recharge Ponds. Joe and Joel are
wildlife photographers, and have a great amount of awesome pictures. I
was able to show them some good birds in these areas that they haven't
seen before. They focus their photography efforts mainly in the Phoenix
Mountains Parks near Squaw Peak, and have found an amazing variety of
Tres Rios was good as usual, 48 species in a few hours. The best sighting
was getting to see a PEREGRINE FALCON capture a dove in the air, who
didn't have a slight chance against the falcon. Feathers went everywhere,
and it was spectacular to watch. We were all watching him through our
binoculars the entire time. The falcon flew very low to the ground and in
the blink of an eye swooped up probably at least 100 feet to capture his
prey. The first Peregrine kill I've seen out in the wild, and one I
definetely will never forget. If only I could've captured that on film to
show! Also present at Tres Rios were 2 BALD EAGLES, SHARP-SHINNED and
COOPER'S HAWKS, OSPREY, and nice male WOOD DUCK, RING-NECKED DUCK, a nice
flock of WHITE-FACED IBIS (flyover), RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, and several
calling CRISSAL THRASHERS. I didn't hear any Least Bitterns this time at
Our next stop was Baseline and Meridian Wildlife Area, which was pretty
dead as usual. Birds of note were several heard only LEAST BITTERNS,
OSPREY, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, NORTHERN HARRIER, and a lone COMMON GROUND-
Our last stop of the day was at the Glendale Recharge Ponds, where we had
a nice raptor show. A RED-TAILED HAWK flew along with our vehicles as we
were driving in, and landed right in the dead cottonwood when we pulled in
and parked, and stayed above us for about a minute. Then, stealing the
show where two young BALD EAGLES, who soared together over the basins,
often playing with each other while in flight. At one time they landed
and sat in the basins, which was very cool to see as well. So our Bald
Eagle total for the day was four individuals, which I was happy to get
that count in the Phoenix area. Before we left, we were treated to an
OSPREY diving and catching a fish about 75 feet away from us, what a sight
that was! The fish was alot smaller than the usual Osprey catches that
I've observed. Ducks of note included CANVASBACK, LESSER SCAUP, COMMON
GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD, and GADWALL.
Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)
December 23-24th, 2009-Birding around Phoenix Areas
Yesterday (23 Dec) and today (24 Dec), I spent my time birding around many
areas throughout Phoenix.
Yesterday I ventured out to the Seven Springs Area to mainly explore the
area briefly, and then I followed that with visits to Scottsdale and
Gilbert Water Ranch.
It was my first visit to Seven Springs, and I really enjoyed the area.
Higlights included SAGE THRASHER, TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE, JUNIPER TITMOUSE,
CEDAR WAXWING, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, WESTERN SCRUB-JAY, BROWN CREEPER, and
abundant numbers of AMERICAN ROBINS. A drive up to Humboldt Mountain
produced a nice flock of about 15 WESTERN MEADOWLARKS, CANYON TOWHEES,
WESTERN BLUEBIRDS, and a CRISSAL THRASHER.
Following Seven Springs, I went to the Scottsdale Area to look for various
waterfowl types. At the south end of McCormick Golf Club alongside Indian
Bend Road, I found 3 ROSS'S GEESE with 7 SNOW GEESE. It was very neat to
see the mixed flock with the noticable difference between the species.
COMMON MERGANSERS were abundant in numbers, and another duck of note were
I made a short visit through Rosseau Sod Farms, where I had WESTERN and
MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS, a PRAIRIE FALCON, 2 OSPREYS, and several NORTHERN
A stop at Gilbert Water Ranch produced 59 species, including a GREATER
WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, NORTHERN HARRIER, VERMILION
FLYCATCHER, NORTHERN CARDINAL, and SAVANNAH SPARROW for the highlights.
Then today (24 Dec), I stopped at Tres Rios Wetlands and the Glendale
Tres Rios held 50 species to my vision and sight, where I had some awesome
highlights. A nice flock of 11 AMERICAN WHITE-PELICANS flew overhead, and
I also found a SPOTTED TOWHEE. Other notables included BALD EAGLE,
OSPREY, PEREGRINE FALCON, RUDDY DUCK, LEAST BITTERN, SORA, CRISSAL
THASHER, and HERMIT THRUSH.
Then, my stop at Glendale Recharge Ponds was another good one! I got less
then 50 feet away from a perched sub-adult BALD EAGLE on a pole which
overlooks the canal running though the middle of the ponds. I took good
video, I hope to post it soon. When the eagle flew off to the east, it
landed in a tree just east of the ponds with another young BALD EAGLE. An
OPSREY was also present as well as a few NORTHERN HARRIERS. COMMON
GOLDENEYE was the only duck of note, everything else was usual. A COYOTE
proweled through the ranchers yard along the east end of the pond, odd to
109 species for the two days.
I hope you all have a blessed and Merry Christmas!