Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Low Budget Birding

Some of you may already be wondering why I am calling this post...well....Low Budget Birding.  I wouldn't be at all offended if all of you are wondering that.  Well the truth is, I'm an idiot.  In some ways no, but in most, yes, I'm an idiot.

On July 29th, 2013 I was back from my wonderful Greer vacation.  I hadn't driven in Phoenix much really or to work for that matter in 10 days.  I was out of my routine and it felt weird driving in the hole as opposed to highways lined by mixed conifer forests and high elevation rivers and meadows.  Mentally I went from a high to a low.  I was missing the White Mountains and wasn't so happy to be back in Phoenix.  I wanted to get back up into the mountains soon whether it being Flagstaff, Prescott, or Mount Ord.  Little did I know, I would make my own situation worse and even those places would have to be on hold.

I was looking for a new high to be on as I was on my way to work.  I just pulled out of my apartment complex and continued shortly east on Northern to start my drive.  Kari Jobe was then on my iPod.  Kari Jobe is an awesome singer.  The concert video had my attention, and the road didn't.  Well, I didn't have time to stop right and I managed to break somewhat before I smashed by truck into someone's rear.  I knew I was screwed...

Tommy, your just an idiot.

I crashed into the lady, but luckily it wasn't a bad collison.  Well for her it wasn't.  For me, it cost me a little too much.  Too much that it will sideline the birding I really want to do for a few months.  After my insurance company wasted over 3 grand on repairing my ride and I completed traffic school, I am back in my truck again.  My truck most likely won't be seeing and birding Flagstaff, Mount Ord, or Prescott anytime soon (unless I get lucky).  The one positive thing that came out of this crash was the rental truck I was lent...a 2014 Chevy Silverado that I drove for 8 days.  All because my distraction couldn't wait 15 minutes.

So birding wise, I have been and am really going to be able to visit one spot that is the closest to home.  Here's what it looks like.  I've been here a lot lately.

This is one of six large basins known as the Glendale Recharge Ponds.  It isn't a pretty place by any means.  But there are a lot of birds, and many rarities have been found and documented here.  This is the closest birding location to my home, and I have a list of nearly 200 species here.  So yeah I've been here a lot.  It's always the place I'll visit if all else fails, such as right now.  But this is Maricopa County's version of the Salton Sea.

The Glendale Recharge Ponds are very good for shorebirds, herons, waterfowl, gulls, terns, raptors, and more throughout the year.  August is a supreme time for shorebirds, a.k.a., right now.  There have been a few good highlights, but nothing really spectacular so far.  I'll do a combination of picture highlights for the majority of my recent visits rather than a separate freaking post for each day.

One can often see a Peregrine Falcon and a Mallard side-by-side at the ponds.  Are these two buddies?  Is the mallard maybe telling Peregrine about his summering enemy American Wigeon's where-abouts?  

Spotted Sandpipers like the canal areas

Greater Yellowlegs in breeding plumage

A dramatic size difference:  The Snowy and Great Egrets

Black-necked Stilts

Here's another size comparison-the Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs.  I wish they were a little closer!

There are three different shorebirds species in this picture.  What are they?

These next three pictures show two Stilt Sandpipers with two Long-billed Dowitchers.  The Stilt Sandpiper is one of my favorite shorebirds.  It is interesting as it almost combines several different attributes for different shorebird genuses, although it is a hardcore calidris.  It feeds like a dowitcher but is much smaller.  When I look for Stilt Sandpipers, I look for a bird feeding dowitcher-like and sticking it's butt way up in the air.  Because the Stilt Sandpiper is smaller than a dowitcher, but has to bend it's body more forward, making them noticeable immediately.  

Stilt Sandpipers and Long-billed Dowitchers

Long-billed Dowitchers

Wilson's Phalaropes

This Black Tern has been the best highlight during the visits.  This small tern is always a treat to see.  When my buddy Laurence Butler joined me at the ponds, this tern was cooperative for both of us.  It rarely stopped flying the entire time we observed it.

Egrets and White-faced Ibis

And this marks the end of my assortment of pictures taken over many early morning visits.  Each visit usually lasted less than two hours.  Out of the six basins, only two have water.  One has medium levels and the other is full.  I'm hoping for the water levels will decrease so they will be more shorebird appropriate in the coming weeks!  Then you'll all be in for a better post with better pictures.  The shallower the water levels, the closer the birds will be.  I've also had two Semipalmated Sandpipers as well as a Solitary Sandpiper out there, but they were distant.  

As for now, stay Fender Bender free!!!!!  Glendale Recharge Ponds, I'll be seeing you very soon and much more.


  1. Sorry to hear of your accident! I just might run into you sometime out there. Going to keep an eye on the place for a while. You got some nice birds!

  2. Nice tip on identifying Stilt Sandpipers, Thanks.