birderfrommaricopa.com

Tommy J. DeBardeleben

June 2011

June 1st, 2011:  Glendale Recharge Ponds-A Tern Show

Hi everyone,

After Gary reported the Caspian Terns earlier today, I decided to give it
a quick afternoon chase. 

I headed straight to the northeast pond, where I immediately saw the two
CASPIAN TERNS.  What a pleasure they were to see, really the first time I
have had good looks at this bird in Arizona.  They were rather aggressive
to all the other birds around, both vocal and taking dives at the herons
and egrets closeby to them, as well as the Ring-billed Gull that Gary also
reported.  They did spend the majority of the time on the island too, as
well as fly around the other basins throughout my visit.  I saw one of the
Caspians catch a fish in the much deeper northmiddle basin.

As I was watching the Caspians and was about to leave, I was very pleased
to see two beautiful breeding plumaged BLACK TERNS fly in.  They flew over
the ponds for about five minutes before I lost track of them.  I wasn't
expecting them, but they were certainly a great surprise!

Other birds out there tonight included many GREAT and SNOWY EGRETS, GREAT
BLUE HERONS, WHITE-FACED IBIS (good numbers), a single LONG-BILLED
DOWITCHER, the RING-BILLED GULL, and HORNED LARKS.  The two terns gave me
261 species so far in Maricopa County for 2011, which I didn't reach 261
until August 9th of last year in 2010.  Caspian was also a new Glendale
Recharge Pond bird for me, the birding location closest to me that I love
to see new birds at.  Thank you Gary!

Good Birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

 

 

June 3rd, 2011:  Hassayampa River Preserve

Hi everyone,

I birded the Hassayampa River Preserve for three hours this morning, 8 to
11 A.M.  

It wasn't as birdy as last time, but there are still some nice migrants
moving through.  My highlight of the day was a beautiful male TOWNSEND'S
WARBLER that was singing away.  I heard the bird first and knew it was one
of the black-throated warblers, and was able to get on it with good
views.  It was the first time I've ever heard a Townsend's Warbler in
song, it was a cool thing.  The runner up to the Townsend's Warbler were
at least two SWAINSON'S THRUSHES, which is the most recent addition to my
Maricopa County list, so I was still very thrilled to see them for the
second time in the county.  This timeframe is sure productive throughout
Arizona for this species, I'm shocked with how many there's been. 
WILSON'S WARBLERS were very numerous, as I counted at least 14 birds
throughout the hike.  Other migrants included two WESTERN WOOD-
PEWEES, "WESTERN" FLYCATCHER, a WARBLING VIREO, and three BLACK-HEADED
GROSBEAKS. 

The regulars are always worth the trip.  The GRAY HAWKS were calling
throughout the morning at the Preserve, as I also caught a glimpse of a
retreating bird along the Mesquite Meander.  I found one TROPICAL KINGBIRD
on the same trail also, where they are usually found.  Once again, I
located it by hearing it's voice, the easiest giveaway.  And of course
there are other greats to enjoy such as VERMILION and BROWN-CRESTED
FLYCATCHERS, CANYON WREN, YELLOW WARBLERS, YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS, SUMMER
TANAGERS, BLUE GROSBEAKS, and BULLOCK'S and HOODED ORIOLES.
   
Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

 

 

June 6th, 2011:  Southwest Maricopa County

Hi everyone,

I attempted to re-find the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that was seen on
Saturday without success.  I spent four hours in the area, driving back
and fourth in the general area it was seen.  I did this many times in
between looking for other birds at some of the other locations.  If in the
area, do keep an eye out for this bird.  I looked up Scissor-tailed
Flycatcher records in the historical database on AZFO and saw some of them
hung around in areas for a good amount of time.  It could still be around
somewhere, as the Roseate Spoonbill in this area has shown us time and
time again!

One of the other locations I visited was the Arlington Wildlife Area. 
Highlights were a few CLAPPER RAILS calling, a LEAST BITTERN, BARN
SWALLOW, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS, and a singing WESTERN MEADOWLARK in the
surrounding fields.  The surrounding forest of tamarisk had tons of
singing WHITE-WINGED DOVES, which was pretty cool to hear.

In the areas where I searched for the flycatcher and also along the Old Us
80, I had numerous BURROWING OWLS, RED-TAILED HAWKS, WESTERN KINGBIRDS, a
flock of sixty or so WHITE-FACED IBIS, a GREATER ROADRUNNER, and a COMMON
GROUND-DOVE.  I also saw a total of four LESSER NIGHTHAWKS with one near 7
A.M., the second at 8 A.M., and then two flying together at 10:30 A.M. 
They are feeding like that over on this side of Arizona as well!  GAMBEL'S
QUAIL chicks are starting to fly and were very viewable throughout this
area during the morning. 

On my way home I stopped at the Glendale Recharge Ponds.  The highlight
there and of my day was a/or continuing BLACK TERN in breeding plumage. 
It was a beautiful bird, and fun to watch, as I spent about thirty minutes
watching fly back and fourth at close range.  The RING-BILLED GULL was
still present, as well as the single LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER.  Also present
was a lingering drake AMERICAN WIGEON. 

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

 

 

June 17th, 2011:  Sunflower and Mount Ord, Maricopa County, Arizona

Hi everyone,

I spent the first half of my day yesterday on June 17th, 2011, birding in
the areas of Sunflower and Mount Ord.

My first stop was at Sunflower, which was a three hour stop starting at
5:45 A.M.  It was a birdy stop, producing 51 species.  I was hoping to get
my first Yellow-billed Cuckoo of the year, but they remained unseen and
quiet.  Maybe next time.  My favorite sighting here was a group of
CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS mobbing a COMMON RAVEN.  It was rather funny, and I got
to observe at it close range.  At first there were only a few Cassin's
Kingbirds on the raven, and when the raven perched in a tree (close to
me), the kingbirds kept on coming, as eventually seven of them crowded
around the raven.  As the raven took off, the kingbirds all seemed to take
turns grabbing it's back, at times there were two of them at once striking
the raven.  I know I wouldn't want to be that raven, the kingbirds
certainly don't have that aggressive of an approach when looking at one. 
Another highlight was a continously singing INDIGO BUNTING in the area of
the Sunflower Work Station.  I also birded the entrance road before I
hiked back along the Old Beeline Highway.  A few CLIFF SWALLOWS are
nesting under a tunnel, and I found a good number of BRONZED COWBIRDS in
an open field, which a male VERMILION FLYCATCHER was as well as numerous
BLUE GROSBEAKS.  Other highlights I had during the three hours included
both COMMON BLACK and ZONE-TAILED HAWKS, a few COSTA'S HUMMINGBIRDS, two
singing WESTERN WOOD-PEWEES, GRAY VIREOS singing from the hillsides, as
well as great numbers of HOODED ORIOLES and a few BULLOCK'S ORIOLES.  I
also observed and heard a LESSER GOLDFINCH giving notes identical to the
scream of a Gray Hawk, which was very odd.  Obviously it wasn't that loud,
but I've never heard them give that call out of all the other birds I've
heard them immitate.

Next I went to Mount Ord.  I had a strong feeling to come here when I woke
up in the morning, despite the fact I was tired.  It's a good thing I did
as Mount Ord was closing yesterday as I left for temporary fire danger,
who knows when it will be open again.  I honestly can't complain however,
I am glad Mount Ord will be reduced from fire chances.  The birdlife was
what Mount Ord basically brings on my usual outings for the most part.  I
observed PHAINOPEPLAS for the first time on Road 1688, where one will
first meet the pine and oak forests.  At the top of Ord, I found a family
of CHIPPING SPARROWS with a young juvenille bird.  They were up here last
year too, and this is the only place I have found breeding Chipping
Sparrows in Maricopa County.  A HOUSE WREN was singing at the top, and I
also encountered a male WESTERN BLUEBIRD.  Other highlights throughout Ord
included ACORN WOODPECKER, WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS,
BRIDLED and JUNIPER TITMICE, BUSHTIT, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH,(only two
singing throughout the day, no other nuthatches heard or seen) singing
HERMIT THRUSHES, OLIVE, VIRGINIA'S, GRACE's, and BLACK-THROATED GRAY
WARBLERS; PAINTED REDSTARTS (including a recently fledged juv.), BLACK-
CHINNED SPARROWS, five or more HEPATIC TANAGERS, one WESTERN TANAGER, two
BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS, and a singing SCOTT'S ORIOLE. 

I came down from Ord to find the forest service waiting for me, so they
could officially lock the gate.  Who knows how long it will be closed, but
at least there is a better chance for Ord to be here longer, which is the
most important thing!  The habitat and birdlife is so great here and is
one of my very favorite places on earth.  However, Slate Creek was not on
the closure map and I made a quick run over the FR 201 (Slate Creek's
access road), and it was still open.

Also, I have recently published my own website.  On that website, I've
been working on a project called "Birding in Maricopa County".  It's an
online site to birding locations and hotspots around the county, and I've
written information about many different sites and hotspots.  Hotspots on
the site are divided by area in the county.  Each site has a description
and information on birding at the site, what birds can be seen there,
directions (with Google Maps), as well as many photographs of each site,
and pictures of the birds taken at the sites that can be seen there.  I
have 42 sites done so far, many more to go.  It's a work in progress and
I'll never officially be done from adding to this.  By the end of this
year, I hope to have many more sites done.  If anyone is interested, the
area page to Highway 87 and it's hotspots on my website can be found at
this link-http://www.birderfrommaricopa.com/area-a-highway-87-from-desert-
to-the-high-country.htm.  This includes Mesquite Wash, Sunflower, Mount
Ord, and Slate Creek Divide.  I hope you all enjoy this website!

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

 

 

June 20th, 2011:  Miller, Mesa and the Salt River-An expedition to see a male Broad-billed Hummingbird

Hi everyone,

I headed out to the Mesa/Salt River area today for a few hours of birding
before I couldn't tollerate the heat anymore.

My first stop was at the Miller House of Mesa, where Jay Miller showed Jim
Kopitzke and I his most recent addition to his fantastic yard, the male
BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD.  Broad-billed put on a show for us with great
looks in the thirty or so minutes we observed.  The three of us were
talking and keeping an eye out for the bird, when it appeared just feet in
front of my face.  It was chasing other hummers away from the area it
frequented.  To bring back a good memory, Jay had a Magnificent
Hummingbird in his yard for five days several years back, he certainly
gets great birds.  Other birds I enjoyed in the yard was a calling WESTERN
KINGBIRD and an active VERDIN nest at very close views.  Thanks again Jay
for everything!

Jim and I then continued on to the Granite Reef Recreation Site at the
Salt River.  Marcus Watson has been seeing a Caspian Tern recently on a
regular basis for about a week now here.  The tern has been flying up and
down the Salt River, so it has been at other locations besides Granite
Reef.  We ran into Marcus as we got there and he saw it there as recent as
yesterday.  So hopefully it will stick around.  The birdlife here was
regular.  A juvenille BALD EAGLE perched on a dead snag across the river. 
Both ASH-THROATED and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS were vocal.  A few LESSER
NIGHTHAWKS were flying over the river fifteen after seven.  Singing BLUE
GROSBEAKS and BULLOCK'S ORIOLES were also nice to see and hear in the area.

After Jim went home, I continued on to the area of the Foxtail Recreation
Site.  I read about this site in Mike Rupp's book, but it seems to be
closed, but I have found an accessable area just a mile east of where the
official Foxtail Site is, which is equally great in habitat.  I've posted
about it before.  There is a nice wash here full of willows, which I found
the Salt River to be flowing through the wash this time around.  I had to
bird at the sides of the wash, but it created good habitat for different
birds.  This is seasonal, sometimes the river goes through, sometimes it's
dry.  Jim said it's due to tubing, which makes perfect sense.  The water
flowing into the wash is a perfect pulloff for the tubers.  Birdwise, my
best highlight here was a pair of GREAT HORNED OWLS, who were calling back
and fourth just after 9 A.M.  I had great looks at both of them, which the
first one I saw I spooked out of one of the willows.  Many YELLOW WARBLERS
were singing in the willows, as were a few BULLOCK'S ORIOLES.  BROWN-
CRESTED FLYCATCHERS were very vocal as well.  With the river running
through the wash, it created good habitat for COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, RED-
WINGED BLACKBIRDS, SONG SPARROWS, and BLACK PHOEBES.  I hoped for a Yellow-
billed Cuckoo once more, no luck.  Maybe nextime. 

For anyone intersted in accessing these recreation sites or has never been
to the Salt River and would like to bird the area, I'll include a link to
the Salt River section on my website, which has directions and information
about every recreation site at the Salt River, which is a thirteen mile
stretch.  Link- http://birderfrommaricopa.com/area-b-salt-river-area.htm

Another good but short day of birding.  And I think the Ivory-billed
Woodpecker still exists.

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

 

 

June 31st, 2011:  Phoenix Mountains Preserve-An expedition in pursuit of my first ever look at a Western Screech

Hey everyone,

I went with my friend, Norman Dong (who is avidly into herbs), this
afternoon to explore a very shady area in the Phoenix Mountains close to a
parking lot.  Out of a quick hike I got my first ever look at a WESTERN
SCREECH-OWL!  I have heard Western Screech-Owls plenty of times, but this
afternoon I finally tore that wall down with a perched owl right in front
of me.  We were able to get about six feet away from the bird without it
spooking, which was perched up on rocks in a small and shady cave area. 
We watched the bird thirty minutes or so and walked away from the Screech-
Owl still perched in the same spot.  My first look at this bird was what
I've always wanted, an open view without any branches in the way.  I'd
call the owl an "official lifer" now!  I guess we all have overdue birds,
I have my share.

Another standout highlight in the cave was another lifer for me, only from
the reptile department, a TIGER RATTLESNAKE.  It was coiled up peacefully
just below the owl.  We didn't want to spook the owl, so we enjoyed the
snake at a further distance at ten feet away.  Birding/herbing in a shady
cave makes any summer day bearable!

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

 






Birding in Maricopa County

My online guide to the birds and birding locations of Maricopa County

 

The Maricopa County Big Year

Two Big Years I did in Maricopa County

 

Birding in Arizona's White Mountains

My online guide to Birding in Arizona's White Mountains