Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Birding Expedition to Southwestern Maricopa County

Hi everyone,

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.  

Northern Harrier

Ferruginous Hawk

Yellow-headed Blackbirds

American Kestrel

A scene from the 80

Burrowing Owl

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!

Sage Thrasher

The messed up Bendire's 

Brewer's Sparrow

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.  

Cinnamon Teal

Black-crowned Night-Heron

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.  

Cliff Swallows

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!

Long-billed Curlews

Glossy Ibis?

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.

Pied-billed Grebe

 Great Egret


 Common Merganser female

It was another pleasant day of birding, I recorded 95 species for the day.

Good birding, 
Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

1 comment:

  1. Man Tommy you're killing it with the photography lately, great shots!

    I've patrolled those roads for Curlew so many times...and nothing like this awesome sighting. Same with the Ferruginous Hawk. Great stuff, and those Thrashers are top quality too. Cheers!