Today on March 6th, 2013, Dominic Sherony and I spent 3.5 hours exploring the Hassayampa River Preserve. This amazing riparian area is one of my favorite places to bird, and any outing here is always enjoyable. We heard of a report of a possible Painted Bunting in the beginning stretches of the River Ramble Trail, but struck out on that possibility. Do keep that in mind in case visiting the Preserve! Dominic and I still found plenty of good highlights, and we were also joined during the morning by Donna Smith and Carol Sharplin.
At Hassayampa, the rarest bird of the morning came when I heard and re-found the WINTER WREN along the River Ramble Trail that I originally found on November 8th, 2012. The wren was of course noted by first hearing it's double callnote, which sounds similar to that of a Song Sparrow. It eventually came into view for Dominic, Carol, Donna and I. The Winter Wren gave us all very good views, and it even sang a few times while we observed it. On another exciting note, this was a state bird for Dominic! This wren has been hanging out along the beginning stretch of the River Ramble, and is heard most often by sitting at the first bench along this trail.
Another good find came when Dominic spied a GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET along the entrance trail to Lyke's Lookout. The four of us got good views of this tiny bird, who perched for nearly 20 minutes in one place, often preening itself. Golden-crowned Kinglets are rare in the lowlands, and are a good find for locations like the Hassayampa River Preserve. This was only my second time ever of seeing a Golden-crowned Kinglet in Maricopa County, and it was my main highlight of the morning.
There were also several other good highlights throughout the morning. One was hearing one of the resident RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS in this area very well without a visual near the end of the River Ramble Trail. These raptors are very shy, and are often spooked before they are seen. We were close to the bird today when it first started calling, only to hear it calling more in the distance five minutes later. A pair of COOPER'S HAWKS did make an appearance by flying at a close distance overhead. Vireos put in a good highlight today, as we found one PLUMBEOUS and two very vocal singing HUTTON'S VIREOS. Another nice surprise came when we found two different BROWN CREEPERS throughout the preserve. HOUSE WRENS were making a push, as we detected a minimum of 8 individuals. Other good birds included WESTERN BLUEBIRDS, HERMIT THRUSH, and CEDAR WAXWINGS. Another good morning of birding.
Other birds today:
Scenes from Hassayampa River Preserve
Later in the day I birded for a little while in Sun City Grand and took some pictures.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow