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.

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