Sorry for the late report, as I have now gotten the time to write this up. On Tuesday, March 12, 2013, I ventured out to the southwestern parts of Maricopa County. I visited the great locations such as the Thrasher Site, many stops and locations along the Old US 80 through Arlington and Palo Verde, and I also birded some in Buckeye. On my way home, I stopped at Tres Rios for awhile. This great day of birding had plenty of highlights.
I started my day out by driving around the Old US 80, which actually took up a good chunk of my day. Along this route I enjoyed seeing a FERRUGINOUS HAWK, several NORTHERN HARRIERS, plenty of RED-TAILED HAWKS and AMERICAN KESTRELS, a large flock of WHITE-FACED IBIS, about 50 LONG-BILLED CURLEW in a flock in a flooded field roadside, a GREATER ROADRUNNER roadrunning, a GREAT HORNED OWL, a BURROWING OWL, BELTED KINGFISHER, my first WESTERN KINGBIRD of the year, a flock of LARK SPARROWS, and large flocks of YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS. Duck highlights at the Lower River Road Ponds included several REDHEADS, RING-NECKED DUCK, and LESSER SCAUP.
A scene from the 80
A close to two hour stop at the Thrasher Spot at the Baseline Road and Salome Highway intersection was also productive. However, this was the first time I think I've ever visited the location and missed Le Conte's Thrasher. However, at least ten SAGE THRASHERS made it a very enjoyable visit and perched up for me plenty of times for good views. BENDIRE'S THRASHERS were also present and nicely viewable, and I had a count of four of them. One of the Bendire's Thrashers strangely had most of it's upper mandible broken off, I wonder how it would manage to feed? The songs of abundant BREWER'S SPARROWS filled the location also. I love visiting this awesome location that is full of thrashers and cool sparrows!
The messed up Bendire's
A view of the Thrasher Spot
One of my next stops was at the Arlington Wildlife Area, which is managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. I was hoping to pick up a Clapper Rail, but I didn't hear or see any. They will arrive soon though! I did have a few good highlights at the Wildlife Area though. These highlights included both CINNAMON and GREEN-WINGED TEAL, many BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS, SORA, WILSON'S SNIPE, two GREEN-TAILED TOWHEES, a calling SWAMP SPARROW, and a flyover LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH.
A view of Arlington Wildlife Area
Another stop I made was at Gillespie Dam. Good news for us birders is that the Dam area has been made into a historic viewing plaza, which is awesome to visit after the location was closed for awhile. I had good highlights here to. Around the dam both CORMORANTS, HERONS, and EGRETS were abundant. A few SORAS called, and CLIFF SWALLOWS were present in high numbers and were fun to observe up close. ROCK WRENS and a CANYON WREN sang on the surrounding cliffs above the Gila River. Migrant warblers were represented by a WILSON'S and a LUCY'S WARBLER.
A view of Gillespie Dam
As I was heading back home in the direction of Tres Rios along the west end of M-C 85 (Buckeye Road), I was treated to watching an amazing flock of LONG-BILLED CURLEWS up close. They would feed and then fly in circles to find another good feeding spot. Several times, I was rewarded and the flock landed very close to the road. With the flock of Curlews strangely was a young IBIS, which looks good for a Glossy Ibis. It is a young bird however, they seem harder to identify with certainty. Reviewing my photographs shows a good traits for a potential Glossy, too bad it wasn't a nice adult!
Tres Rios was full of bird abundance as usual. I recorded nearly 70 species in less than two hours. Highlights for the Tres Rios walk included a female COMMON MERGANSER up close, a flyover SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, a calling VIRGINIA RAIL, BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD, and the continuing NORTHERN PARULA.
Common Merganser female
It was another pleasant day of birding, I recorded 95 species for the day.
Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)