I made another visit to bird the awesome Prescott area yesterday on April 19th, 2013. This place is addicting to bird, and I keep on wanting to go back the second I have to go back to Glendale. Yesterday the birding fun continued for me in this awesome area in a full 11 hour day of birding. The birds were abundant and there was never a dull second in the four stops I made and birded during the day. Two new stops were made for me on this route, which was the Kendall Camp Trail and Granite Basin Lake. Those two locations were followed my another visit to both Willow and Watson Lakes.
My first stop of the day was at the Kendall Camp Trail, which can be accessed by driving south for just over seven miles south on the Senator Highway off a dirt road. This is a very nice birding area with good potential. The Hassayampa River runs through this area, and creates a pleasant birding experience. In the immediate area of the Kendall Camp Trail, the ponderosa pines are joined by both Douglas and white fir, a few aspens, and oaks. I hiked the trail for about a mile, which was filled with birds and I was able to find my target plus many more goodies. My target bird here was Greater Pewee, which are found reliably in this location by Prescott birders. As I hiked up the trail and was coming close to the fences of Kendall Camp, I heard the "Jose-Maria" call of the GREATER PEWEE. I quickly went in the direction of the song, and I eventually saw the Greater Pewee singing on top of the snag. It was a big thrill for me, and this is a species I don't ever see often at all. The Greater Pewee stayed high and had a few perches it flew back and fourth too a considerable distance apart where it sang frequently. Another Greater Pewee sang below the first on a forested slope. I have decided to name all Greater Pewee males Jose and the females Maria, at least the ones I encounter in the field! Certainly a cool bird. Besides Jose, I encountered plenty of other cool birds on the Kendall Camp Trail. One was hearing a WILD TURKEY calling, which I didn't expect to hear. A small flock of BAND-TAILED PIGEONS flew by at close distances. BLACK-CHINNED and BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRDS were both present. There were also four DUSKY FLYCATCHERS in song during the course of my hike, most singing on the top of conifers. 4-5 PLUMBEOUS VIREOS were scattered throughout the trail, and a single HUTTON'S VIREO sang it's simple song a few times. VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS flew around above the trees. All three NUTHATCHES were present: Pygmy, Red and White-breasted. I also enjoyed hearing a few HERMIT THRUSHES in song. This is one of my favorite birds to listen to, and it was the first time this year I have been able to do so. VIRGINIA'S and GRACE'S WARBLERS were common on the trail, and I was able to find a one PAINTED REDSTART. PINE SISKINS were very common, and a RED CROSSBILL flew over calling. In over two hours of birding at the pleasant Kendall Camp, I found 34 species.
Kendall Camp Views
Next up was my first visit to the Granite Basin Recreation Area to bird Granite Basin Lake. I stopped here for almost two hours to explore the area, which I was impressed with. The habitat here is high chaparral, rocky habitats, and ponderosa pine forests. The small Granite Basin Lake has nice willow/cottonwood riparian habitat surrounding the lake. There are many trail options to hike in this area, which makes it a popular destination throughout the year. When I got out of the truck, the songs of CANYON WRENS and BLACK-CHINNED SPARROWS were the first birds I heard. They were 2 of the 42 species I recorded in this area. Other highlights at Granite Basin Lake included an AMERICAN WIGEON on the small lake, BLACK-CHINNED and ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS, ACORN and HAIRY WOODPECKERS, a DUSKY FLYCATCHER, BLACK PHOEBE, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, HUTTON'S VIREO, WESTERN SCRUB-JAYS, MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE, BUSHTITS, JUNIPER TITMOUSE, BEWICK'S WRENS, LUCY'S, VIRGINIA'S, YELLOW-RUMPED, GRACE'S, and YELLOW WARBLERS; LINCOLN'S SPARROW, and LAZULI BUNTING.
Granite Basin Lake
After Granite Basin, my third stop of the day was at a very birdy Willow Lake, where birded at for over three hours. This lake birding wise is almost like the Gilbert Water Ranch or Sweetwater Wetlands of Prescott. Things constantly change here by the day. Right off the bat on this visit, I had a very nice highlight when I started at the north end of the lake by the boat ramp. A flock of FRANKLIN'S GULLS floated on the water at very close distances at times. They were a treat to see, and at one time I counted 25 Franklin's Gulls in the group at once. From here I started to work my way around the lake. A good diversity of waterfowl is still present, but the numbers are decreasing dramatically. 13 species of geese/ducks were represented best by two pairs of BLUE-WINGED TEAL, a few CANVASBACKS and REDHEADS, and BUFFLEHEADS. About ten EARED GREBES were on the lake, as was a single WESTERN GREBE. One NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (possibly two) was at the lake in midst of the common DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT. A few GREAT and SNOWY EGRETS were on the lake, and a few birders also saw a rare-in-Prescott Cattle Egret. Raptors were represented by OSPREY, COOPERS, SHARP-SHINNED, RED-TAILED, and ZONE-TAILED HAWKS. Shorebird highlights included three WILSON'S PHALAROPES, three LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS, 4 BLACK-NECKED STILTS, and 4-5 LESSER YELLOWLEGS. Both WESTERN and CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS were present. A PLUMBEOUS VIREO foraged in a big stand of cottonwoods located at the western end of the lake, where a few CEDAR WAXWINGS were heard calling. A CANYON TOWHEE was present near the north parking area. Sparrows were found in SAVANNAH, LARK, BREWERS, CHIPPING, LINCOLN'S, and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS. 7-8 YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS in reeds around the lake was nice to see, and a male BULLOCK'S ORIOLE was present in the cottonwoods. A very productive visit at Willow Lake once again produced 77 species in the 3.5 hours.
My final stop of the day was at Watson Lake, which is just east of Willow Lake. It was a very productive visit here birding wise as well. 11 ducks/geese were present here through my eyes, and I wasn't able to find the recent White-winged Scoter. 2 WESTERN GREBES found the lake. When I walked down the Prescott Peavine Trail (which travels along the east side of Watson Lake), I came up upon a cove that held 10 more FRANKLIN'S GULLS. Between here and Willow Lake, I had at least 35 birds. Swallows put on a good show here, which included my first BANK SWALLOW of the year, and a single BARN SWALLOW among the 6 species. BRIDLED and JUNIPER TITMICE were present along the trail. A CRISSAL THRASHER also called from a nearby hill. A sparrow highlight for me was a single RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW along the trail. An EASTERN "LILLIAN'S" MEADOWLARK flew by and gave it's "zeet" call on my way back. I had a total of 67 species at Willow Lake, which had a similar bird list overall to that of Willow Lake with a few differences. Between these two neighbor lakes, I had 97 species. Certainly an extremely productive area right in the heart of the town of Prescott.
I ended the day in Prescott with a total of 119 species recorded in the four stops made, all within a rather short distance of each other. It was a great day to be out birding in a great area. The Prescott Audubon Society has an excellent website, which has a guide to the area's birding hotspots on it. This guide covers the areas I have covered in my last three visits here, and it gives great directions and information about the birds and hotspots. I have included a link to this guide from the Prescott Audubon Society at the link below:
Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)