Today on March 17th, 2013, Laurence Butler and I explored and birded along the Hassayampa River. We made stops at the Roadside Rest and of course continued two miles north to the amazing Hassayampa River Preserve.
The Roadside Rest Area was rather birdy today. One of the best highlights here was watching both male and female VERMILION FLYCATCHERS throughout the parking lot of the reststop. This is one of the best places in my opinion to see this awesome flycatcher up close. Another interesting highlight we had were three different BROWN CREEPERS in the immediate area, who preferred larger mesquites (the winter replacement for a conifer) around the parking area. We also had some of the same birds that Troy and Tom saw yesterday, the GREEN-WINGED and CINNAMON TEALS on the river, as well as the DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT. The cormorant was flying back and fourth up and down the river as it was yesterday. We didn't detect the Pacific Wren. Other birds here were COOPER'S HAWK, BELTED KINGFISHER, two ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHERS, plenty of singing LUCY'S WARBLERS, and a single WILSON'S WARBLER.
We then arrived at the Hassayampa River Preserve at 8 A.M. and birded there for just over three hours. Our primary target was the male Williamson's Sapsucker that Marceline VandeWater found on Friday the 15th. We searched for this bird for over half of the time without luck, which Marceline saw on the Lyke's Lookout Trail, just past the river crossing. Do keep this bird in mind if in the area. We did have a good consolation in this immediate area though, which was a BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER creeping nuthatch-like up an down in a cottonwood. This was an nice surprise, and was a new bird for Laurence! There are a lot of good birds coming in right now at the preserve!
Raptors were a good highlight as usual today at the Preserve. We were surprised to find a COMMON BLACK-HAWK perched on top of a cottonwood as we climbed up to Lyke's Lookout. This bird didn't stick around look before flying off in the opposite direction into the riparian mass. Later in the morning as we were at the sapsucker spot, Laurence spied the/or maybe a second Common Black-Hawk flying overhead. At least one of the GRAY HAWKS was heard frequently throughout the morning from Lyke's Lookout, which is always nice when they return to this area. We also heard the RED-SHOULDERED HAWK calling several times in this area also.
Another good highlight we had was the continuing WINTER WREN near the start of the River Ramble Trail. Other highlights included a WILSON'S SNIPE, a singing HUTTON'S VIREO, a flock of CEDAR WAXWINGS, calling and singing YELLOW WARBLERS, a first-year SUMMER TANAGER on the Lyke's Lookout Trail, and about 10-15 LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCHES along the Lyke's Lookout Trail. It was a pleasant day of birding, despite the absence of Willy.
Scenes from Hassayampa
After Hassayampa, my friend Dave graciously showed Laurence and I a ORCHARD ORIOLE that has wintered in his private yard for the last 7 winters. Orchard Oriole is rare in Arizona, and what a nice sight this adult male is!