Friday, February 21, 2014

Birding Three Rivers

Kenya, Africa.  Wow, I never thought I would make it here.  I stare up in the abyss as I stand at Lake Nakuru.  I'm waiting to see my first overseas pelican, the African White Pelican.  As I look up, I see them coming in.  Besides the African White Pelican, I was hoping to see African Fish Eagles and more......

Yeah Africa is a great place, and the 10 seconds I spent there this morning were nice.  It didn't take me long to realize the Pelicans had American instead of African for their first name.  Oh, what pain!  And as I woke up from my short coma, I realized I was staring at the Estrella Mountains without a fine alkaline lake in front of me called Nakuru.  Dream on Tommy, dream on.  But this could pass for Africa, couldn't it?  The scenery looks rather a way.

Maybe someday I'll go to Africa, but today, my location was at Tres Rios Wetlands.  Tres Rios is Spanish for Three Rivers.  So I birded Three Rivers Wetlands today, not Africa's Lake Nakuru.  There were some birds today, and one of my highlights came from a shy and rather marshy shorebird.  

This bird is rather grouchy, and it flies up with a very grouchy flight call.  Despite it's unpleasant sounds and behavior, the bird is rather cool.  This, my friends, is a Wilson's Snipe.  Snipes are gamebirds, and I always forget the fact that they are.  With their strange flight motions and quick flights while they are angry to be disturbed, it would take one heck of a sniper to shoot one down.

Despite the fact there is action going on elsewhere, the local Black-tailed Gnatcatcher pair could really care less.  Small and plain, but yet striking, this pair of birds can be very fun to watch.  

At Tres Rios, one will always see a variety of neat birds.  One is the Yellow-headed Blackbird, who, at times, will fly in flocks of thousands.  What really amazes me about them is that they execute the exact same motions in their flight lines.  Right on the money too!

This Western Meadowlark took time to perch for over 10 minutes and sing it's heart out.  Tres Rios certainly doesn't hold Western Meadowlark breeding habitat, but hey, I think it's safe to say that spring is here.  It's not even March yet and we Phoenicians have already seen hot days that have almost reached 90 degrees.  We don't like it, but out-of-state visitors sure do, and so does the Meadowlark.

Redundant Red-tailed Hawks make Tres Rios their wintering home.  The redundancy isn't a bad thing, but it's the appropriate word for Red-tailed Hawk at Tres Rios.  Among the many Tails, there are many different color morphs who are represented.

Two of the largest birds at Tres Rios are the Great Blue Heron and the Great Egret.  Both can be seen in the area, whether perched up fifty feet high in a tree, wading in the water, hunting a field, or standing on a rock pile.  Anything suits these two herons.  I usually walk by them because they are so common, but today I thought I'd give them a few shots.

To close out the day, I watched a kettle of Black Vultures fly overhead.  These birds are kinda cool in a way, certainly cooler than their Turkey cousin.  

Three Rivers, Tres Rios, whatever it's called, is a great place to bird in the Phoenix area.  Pay it a visit!

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