birderfrommaricopa.com

Tommy J. DeBardeleben

March 2012

 

March 9th, 2012:  Bendire's Thrashers at Red Mountain Park in Mesa

Hi everyone,

As Jim Koptizke and I were returning from the Apache Trail last weekend,
we drove by Red Mountain Park and he informed me that the park is a good
location for Bendire's Thrashers, as well as the area around the park.

It really interested me to have a place like this on the east side of the
valley, so I explored it myself yesterday (March 9 2012).  Jim told me
that he would often see the thrashers in a large desert area on the east
border of the park, and I searched that section without luck for over an
hour.  Ironically, as I went over to the more crowded section of the park
were the fising lake is, I found two, probably three BENDIRE'S THRASHERS
around the mesquites and surrounding desert scrub of the lake.  I'm almost
positive of a third bird, but the look was just a glimpse (and there were
a few Curve-billeds around).  The first bird I saw was very cooperative
and sang out in the open for at least thirty minutes.  I even got to show
the Maricopa Audubon Society group of ten birders led by Kathe Anderson
the Bendire's Thrasher, and it was a nice sight for everyone.  So
obviously, this park is reliable for this species. 

A lot of the park is surrounded by creosote desert with a lot of tall
paloverde and mesquite trees.  The lake has interesting cottonwood and
willow habitat which is a good spot probably in migration.  I could see
this park being a great birding area throughout the year, so hopefully
others will explore it.  Thanks Jim for telling me about the park!

The park is on the south side Brown Road, a less than a mile east of Power
Road, with Sun Valley Blvd. being immediately east of the park, which is
your turnoff for parking.

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

 

 

March 12th, 2012:  Two lifers at Pinal County's Santa Cruz Flats

Hi everyone,

I was craving a few lifers today, so Jim Kopitzke and I headed for the
Santa Cruz Flats.  Because I don't travel outside of Maricopa enough, I
have yet to ever see Mountain Plover or Crested Caracara.  And it doesn't
help with the fact I've only visited Santa Cruz once! Lame exuses aside, I
was in hopes of seeing those birds today.

Things got off to a good start for us as we quickly found a CRESTED
CARACARA feeding with a group of Ravens on dead cattle.  It wasn't there
too long, but it gave us good looks before taking off into the distance. 
The Caracara was a special lifer for me, my 400th bird (390th in Arizona,
I don't get out of AZ enough either).  It proved to be a lucky find as we
found it in an area we really weren't thinking to look for Caracara.  The
rest of the day resulted in two distant heat blurred Caracaras near one of
the traditional cattle spots. 

The second best highlight came from the Sod shortly after my first ever
Caracara.  I was worried Mountain Plovers would be a no show after seeing
negative reports lately.  We scanned and found a single MOUNTAIN PLOVER,
who disapeared on us as Jim was setting up his scope.  A two lifer day for
me! # 401 baby!

The Flats had other good highlights throughout the day as well and didn't
disapoint.  This included a nice kettle of BLACK VULTURES, 2 FERRUGINOUS
HAWKS, great looks at an amazing flock of 25 LONG-BILLED CURLEWS perched
on a berm, one GREATER ROADRUNNER, four BURROWING OWLS, and also a nice
highlight of a singing BENDIRE'S THRASHER. 

It was a great day to bird the Flats.  Excellent habitat.  Excellent birds.

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

 

 

March 17th, 2012:  Birding the Desert Botanical Gardens

Hi everyone,

Today I birded at the Desert Botanical Gardens on March 17th, 2012.  This
place is a very nice location to bird at, despite the $18 dollar entrance
fee.  Besides the common desert species, I had a few nice surprises.

Just minutes after arriving at the Gardens, when I was walking on the
Desert Loop Discovery Trail, I had my day's best highlight.  I heard a
Verdin giving it's alarm call only to look up and see a LONG-EARED OWL
flying away.  This Owl flew back and fourth through this trail every few
minutes.  It was easily spooked by the people walking on the trail.  I had
one decent perched look at the bird and several close up looks of it in
flight.  Certainly a bird I didn't expect to see there!  It was easy to
keep track of for about thirty mintues, and then it wasn't relocated by
anyone else the remainder of the day.  The trail was too crowded for a
Long-eared Owl to favor, so it has most likely left the area. It certainly
entertained the crowd of people throughout the loop trail while it was
flying around.

I was then treated to seeing a WESTERN SCREECH-OWL, shown to me by Jeff
who volunteers and takes excellent photographs of the different wildlife
at the Gardens.  Thanks Jeff! 

Another good highlight were my first few BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRDS of the
year.


Good Birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

 

 

March 23rd, 2012:  Birding Tres Rios's extensive Overflow Wetlands Project

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I stopped at the Tres Rios Overflow Wetlands after visting South
Mountain Park for my first time.  I enjoyed South Mountain, and a pair of
BENDIRE'S THRASHERS highlighted my trip there.  I got to the Overflow
Wetlands of Tres Rios at 1:30 P.M.  This is one remarkable birding area,
which still isn't open to the public.  However, you may obtain a permit
from Tres Rios personnel.  I was expecting to see decent amount of birds
there with it being later in the day, it it turned out I was wrong and
birds were everywhere.  I hardly ever closed my notebook. 

I did see most of the birds in the Overflow Wetlands, but some where seen
through the fences of the huge regulating wetlands that are part of the
wastwater treatment plant.  This area is closed to the public.  I was
priveleged to do that spot during the Tres Rios Christmas Count, which was
beyond amazing. 

Birdwise yesterday, I guess I'll summarize my highlights taxonomically. 
Twelve duck species were highlighted by BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS, a
pair of BLUE-WINGED TEAL, numerous pairs of CINNAMON TEAL, and singles of
REDHEAD, HOODED MERGANSER and BUFFLEHEAD.  Between the wetlands and the
Gila River, this area is a flyway for AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS.  Several
LEAST BITTERNS called throughout the area.  Large flocks of WHITE-FACED
IBIS flew through the area.  Eight different raptors were highlighted by
my first ZONE-TAILED HAWK of the year, two BALD EAGLES, several OSPREYS,
several SHARP-SHINNED and COOPER'S HAWKS, and two NORTHERN HARRIERS. 
VIRGINIA RAILS and SORAS could be heard in the dense marshes, where plenty
of COMMON GALLINULES made visual appearances.  Some of the ponds were
shallow and held good shorebird habitat.  BLACK-NECKED STILTS and LONG-
BILLED DOWITCHERS were plenty, and I also got my first two LESSER
YELLOWLEGS of the year.  I scared two WILSON'S SNIPES out of the grass
lining one of the ponds also.  Several LONG-BILLED CURLEWS could be heard
in the fenced in wetlands.  A GREATER ROADRUNNER crossed my path, always a
nice sight.  Two BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRDS and two BELTED KINGFISHERS
were also nice.  I had a two kingbird day, one being my first WESTERN
KINGBIRD and the other being the continuing rarity in the TROPICAL
KINGBIRD.  The Tropical reconfirmed his identity with me, and called
loudly twice.  Three swallow species were represtented by CLIFF, VIOLET-
GREEN and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED.  MARSH WRENS were everywhere.  A stand of
4 large non-native trees were full of warblers.  Besides the usual Yellow-
rumps that were everywhere, I managed to find a WILSON'S and a TOWNSEND'S
WARBLER.  My sparrow highlight was a SWAMP SPARROW, a nice surprise in the
marsh.  Hundreds of YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS in the area are another
highlight anytime in this area.

In the four hours during the afternoon that I spent there, I recorded 87
species!  Looking back on my records, the highest number I've ever had in
a single stop was 81 at Gilbert Water Ranch in Sept. of 2009.  I can't
wait to cover this area in the morning sometime soon when activity is even
higher!

Good Birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

 

 

March 26th, 2012:  Birding the Horseshoe Lake Recreation Area for the first time..

Hi everyone,

Yesterday on March 26th, 2012, my cousin Trevor Knupp and I explored the
Horseshoe Lake Recreation Area.  It was my first time to see this area,
and I hired Trevor to take me back on this rough road route with his
jeep.  Trevor hasn't birded much, but he really wants to see a Pink-footed
Goose after seeing the Big Year.  Birdwise, the entire eleven mile route
along Horseshoe Dam Road leading up to Horseshoe Lake was very scenic and
birdy.  I got to show Trevor some awesome birds during the day.  This was
a "location lifer" for me, and I was blessed to see this awesome area for
the first time.

The birds were active all morning without a dull moment.  Bartlett Dam
Road has a nice mix of lower sonoran desert and chaparral habitats for the
first half of the route.  With this habitat mix, there was good birding
with several singing BLACK-CHINNED SPARROWS, BREWER'S SPARROWS singing
everywhere, WESTERN SCRUB-JAYS, my first BELL'S VIREOS of the year noisily
singing, a surprise in a WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, numerous LUCY'S
WARBLERS, and a few SPOTTED TOWHEES. 

We then had a nice raptor show as Trevor spied a hawk that turned out to
be a ZONE-TAILED HAWK.  A RED-TAILED HAWK flew closeby.  Trevor then spied
an AMERICAN KESTREL and seconds later, a soaring PRAIRIE FALCON. 

The view of the Verde River and riparian habitat came into view about
seven miles in.  The riparian habitat here is amazing, dominated mainly by
thick stands of willows with a fair amount of cottonwoods.  Several nice
mesquite bosques complete the habitat make up.  We stopped and went down
to the river in a few places.  Highlights here included a huge roost of
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS, two HARRIS'S HAWKS, three COMMON MERGANSERS in
the river, and a few singing YELLOW WARBLERS.  Our favorite stop of the
day we made twice, a recreation and camping site, called the Mesquite
Recreation Site.  The Verde River flows right along this loop and
recreation site which is highly mesquite bosque.  Tall willows lined the
river and there were even a few sycamores along the bank.  Birding here
throughout the year would be interesting.  Highlights in the mesquite
habitat were a few amazing VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, LADDER-BACKED
WOODPECKER, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, HERMIT THRUSH, and LUCY'S WARBLERS
singing everywhere.

We moved on to Horseshoe Reservoir itself, where we had more amazing
highlights and the best sightings of the day.  Horseshoe Lake is at the
northern part of Maricopa County, which a lot of the lake is in Yavapai
County.  I'm pretty sure most of what we saw was in Maricopa, some was
probably slightly in Yavapai.  What I heard of this lake that it is
usually dry, but during our outing it was relatively full of water,
although the water was rather shallow.  The lake looked more like a huge
marsh.  Before we got to the lake, I spied a young BALD EAGLE fly and
land.  We wanted to get closer to it by taking a path that went along the
west side of the lake.  As we started walking on the path, we noticed a
large amount of RAVENS, RED-TAILED HAWKS, and two BALD EAGLES flying
around together and perching on trees and snags that lined the shore. 
Food sources were obviously good for them around the lake!  As we walked
the road, Bald Eagles seemed to keep coming and coming, as well as the
Ravens and Red-tailed Hawks (some of these birds perched on the ground
also).  We ended up counting at least eight Bald Eagles-one adult, a sub-
adult, and the remainder of the bunch being juvenile and second year
birds.  It was amazing seeing these eagles in such a short amount of
ground covered on one side of the lake!  Some of the younger birds didn't
mind our presence much at all.  Looking across the lake, we saw some very
large distant raptors that were probably Bald Eagles as well, but they
were too distant to be sure.  The lake certainly was heaven for hungry
Bald Eagles.  A NORTHERN HARRIER added to our day raptor list.  I forgot
the scope at home, and there were a lot of birds on the waters.  This
included CANADA GEESE, GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN SHOVELER, GREEN-
WINGED TEAL, PIED-BILLED GREBE, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, AMERICAN COOTS
(eagle food!), as well as many GREAT-BLUE HERONS and a few GREAT EGRETS.
Hadn't I forgot the scope, we wouldv'e seen more!  With the relatively
shallow water, this would be a very interesting spot during shorebird
migrations, as well as checking throughout the year. 

My first visit to Horseshoe Lake Recreation Area was nothing short of
great, with 67 species recorded in the area.  Many thanks to Trevor for
helping me explore it!


BIRD LIST:

Horseshoe Lake Recreation Area, Maricopa, US-AZ
Mar 26, 2012 7:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
11.0 mile(s)
Comments:      <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.1
67 species

Canada Goose  5
Gadwall  1
American Wigeon  10
Mallard  10
Northern Shoveler  50
Green-winged Teal  10
Common Merganser  3
Gambel's Quail  50
Pied-billed Grebe  2
Double-crested Cormorant  30
Great Blue Heron  10
Great Egret  2
Black-crowned Night-Heron  50
Turkey Vulture  30
Bald Eagle  8
Northern Harrier  1
Harris's Hawk  2
Zone-tailed Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  10
American Kestrel  1
Prairie Falcon  1
American Coot  100
Killdeer  10
Mourning Dove  10
Costa's Hummingbird  3
Gila Woodpecker  10
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  4
Northern Flicker  2
Gilded Flicker  3
Black Phoebe  1
Vermilion Flycatcher  3
Ash-throated Flycatcher  2
Loggerhead Shrike  1
Bell's Vireo  4
Western Scrub-Jay  10
Common Raven  20
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  20
Verdin  15
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Cactus Wren  5
Rock Wren  1
Bewick's Wren  5
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  3
Hermit Thrush  1
Northern Mockingbird  10
Curve-billed Thrasher (Western)  2
Phainopepla  100
Lucy's Warbler  40
Yellow Warbler (Northern)  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)  50
Wilson's Warbler  1
Green-tailed Towhee  2
Spotted Towhee  3
Canyon Towhee  1
Abert's Towhee  15
Brewer's Sparrow  200
Black-chinned Sparrow  2
Black-throated Sparrow  5
Song Sparrow  5
Lincoln's Sparrow  20
White-crowned Sparrow  50
Northern Cardinal  30
Western Meadowlark  40
Great-tailed Grackle  3
House Finch  10
Lesser Goldfinch  30




Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

 

 

March 27th, 2012:  Continuing the birding expedition at Tres Rios Overflow Wetlands

Hi everyone,

I birded the Tres Rios Overflow Wetlands again this morning.  I was
excited to bird this area again after birding it last week.  It was once
again a very productive stop.  This time, I recorded 90 different species
in 4.5 hours along what seems like "endless" riparian habit.

Highlights from today included BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS, 15 BLUE-
WINGED TEALS, numerous CINNAMON TEALS, two HOODED MERGANSERS (both female
types), one EARED GREBE, AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS everywhere, a kettle of
about twenty BLACK VULTURES, three OSPREYS, an adult BALD EAGLE, three
young HARRIS'S HAWKS, a heard VIRGINIA RAIL (grunting just feet away from
me, the tall reeds separated us), heard SORA, one LESSER YELLOWLEGS, the
continuing TROPICAL KINGBIRD, close looks at feeding TREE SWALLOWS, two
YELLOW WARBLERS, probably the same WILSON'S and TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS in the
same set of trees, and good looks at the continuing SWAMP SPARROW. 

I love birding this place already and I'm fortunate it's close to home!   


BIRD LIST:

Tres Rios Overflow Wetlands, Maricopa, US-AZ
Mar 27, 2012 6:50 AM - 11:50 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
Comments:      <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.1
90 species

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  3
Canada Goose  5
Gadwall  30
American Wigeon  30
Mallard  200
Blue-winged Teal  15
Cinnamon Teal  50
Northern Shoveler  500
Northern Pintail  3
Green-winged Teal (American)  50
Redhead  1
Ring-necked Duck  4
Hooded Merganser  2
Ruddy Duck  250
Gambel's Quail  40
Pied-billed Grebe  20
Eared Grebe  1
Neotropic Cormorant  30
Double-crested Cormorant  50
American White Pelican  40
Least Bittern  2
Great Blue Heron  30
Great Egret  20
Snowy Egret  20
Green Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  40
White-faced Ibis  100
Black Vulture  20
Turkey Vulture  30
Osprey  3
Bald Eagle  1
Northern Harrier  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Harris's Hawk  3
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Virginia Rail  1
Sora  1
Common Gallinule  30
American Coot  200
Killdeer  30
Black-necked Stilt  100
American Avocet  30
Greater Yellowlegs  3
Lesser Yellowlegs  1
Least Sandpiper  20
Long-billed Dowitcher  50
Wilson's Snipe  1
Rock Pigeon  5
Eurasian Collared-Dove  20
Mourning Dove  30
Greater Roadrunner  1
Black-chinned Hummingbird  3
Anna's Hummingbird  2
Gila Woodpecker  3
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  2
Black Phoebe  4
Say's Phoebe  1
Ash-throated Flycatcher  3
Tropical Kingbird  1
Western Kingbird  1
Loggerhead Shrike  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  5
Tree Swallow  20
Cliff Swallow  300
Verdin  3
Marsh Wren (Interior West)  20
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
European Starling  50
Orange-crowned Warbler  20
Common Yellowthroat  10
Yellow Warbler  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)  50
Townsend's Warbler  1
Wilson's Warbler  1
Abert's Towhee  15
Brewer's Sparrow  5
Song Sparrow  30
Lincoln's Sparrow  20
Swamp Sparrow  1
White-crowned Sparrow  40
Northern Cardinal  5
Red-winged Blackbird  200
Western Meadowlark  30
Yellow-headed Blackbird  1000
Great-tailed Grackle  40
Brown-headed Cowbird  10
House Finch  15
Lesser Goldfinch  10
House Sparrow  2



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