Tuesday, April 24, 2012


 Barbie (no relation to the doll), Helen, and I birded around the neighborhood.  We stopped at 3 sites -  Sweet Springs, (photo) 3rd St., and Audubon Overlook. Even though it was overcast, we managed to identify 23 species.  Still a few winter migrants enjoying our mild climate - No. Shoveler, Cinnamon and Green-winged Teal, and a large flock of Avocet.  The Avocet  were quietly feeding when a another flock of Avocet flew in.  They became very vocal and moved toward each other as in greeting.  Below is a YouTube of their vocalizations.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


The majority of the winter migrants have left for their breeding grounds. The Blue-winged Teal (photo) from my observation are often the last to go. They breed throughout the western U. S. Their preferred nesting habitats include marshes and shallow ponds.

Teals are dabblers. They feed in shallow water, either skimming the water or dabbling below the surface. This lovely morning, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, and Northern shoveler were feeding out from the Audubon Overlook. In the shallower water a large flock of Avocet fed, bills swaying rhythmically. Many in transition to their breeding colors - their head and breast turning from white to a deep cinnamon.

On the bay was an Eared Grebe, looking exotic in its breeding plumage. Total species for this morning's birding, 27. Sweet Spring was alive with sound. Heard Pacific-slope Flycatcher (a spring migrant), Kestrel, Chickadee, Common Yellowthroat, and Kingfisher. The Kingfisher will soon be heading out. They usually nest in a tunnel which they excavate into a riverbank.

I have done much fiddling with youtube. Here goes another try. This movie is a semi-humorous attempt at birding around the Phoenix waste water treatment facility. Some of the photos are fuzzy (due to using an iTouch), but the music is jolly.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Destination - My brother's house in Avondale, Arizona. First stop - Palm Springs. Purpose? Certainly not the golf courses. (Per Wikipedia there are 125) I had stopped in Palm Springs to experience a Palm Canyon. It was most fortuitous that Cathy (below photo), whom I had met on a Morro Strand Beach walk several years ago, is a Palm Spring's resident and is very familiar with the Indian Canyons. Our canyon of choice was Andreas. (photo) It is one of the three Palm Canyons located on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation. A scenic trail leads through the canyon, passing through dense groves of California native fan palms (Washingtonia filifera).
The first bird we saw was the White-throated Swift. They nest deep in cracks or crevices of rocks. The rugged granite formations of the canyon allow the Swift numerous nesting sites. The palms, clad in long dense skirts of frond, made birding a wee bit of a challenge, but after we crossed the creek, birding looked up, as were out of the canyon, looking down into the Palms. We saw Verdin, Wilson's Warbler, 3 Nuttall's Woodpecker, Black and Say's Phoebe, Phanopepla, and Cactus Wren. Most memorable was a bright orange House Wren whose coloration matched that of one of the desert's most colorful and abundant plants, Desert Mallow. Thank you Cathy for a memorable walk.

Avondale, where my brother lives, is a suburb of Phoenix. To the south east is the Phoenix Waste Water Reclamation site. A huge pond complex, creek and wetland (not open to the public) is across the road from the industrial site.

As I was peering through the fence at the teeming throngs of Ruddy Duck, Northern Shovelers, a flock of Cattle Egrets, and more Yellow-headed Blackbirds one could possible see in a life time, a worker gentleman drove up; we started talking about the birds. He showed me where one could get partial access to this fascinating area. He said a permit was required, but I did not need one. What a nice guy.

As one walks along the road, to the right is the fenced pond complex. To the left are native plants, the waste water creek, and endless open space (This area was once were three rivers: Gila, Salt and Agua Fria came together). The creek is not accessible due to dense vegetation. The first item of interest besides the trillions of birds in the ponds and reeds, was an old Cottonwood Great Blue Heron Rookery (photo). I counted 18 active nests. Following the road were shallow ponds and dense reeds. Birds were easy to see: Numerous Black-necked Stilt (photo below), Dowitcher, Canada Goose, Cinnamon Teal, Common Moorhen, Greater Yellowleg. Not not bad for the Arizona desert.

On the way back, was thoroughly parched due to leaving my water bottle in the car, I looked up. Soaring overhead, with two Turkey Vultures, was a flock (9 or 10) of Black Vultures. They have silvery white wingtips and appeared a tad smaller, and blacker than the TV. Unlike Turkey Vultures the Black vulture depends on vision to find its food. Terribly thrilling for a fledgling birder, such as myself, to have a first time sighting. Thank you City of Phoenix Waste Water Facility.

Below is a link to a simi-humorous youtube on birding around a water treatment facility. Keep in mind I am a novice.