Spoiler alerts don't usually come this soon, but I'll say now, I didn't find anything particularly rare that I haven't seen in Maricopa County. It was a fun few hours of birding, and I did have a few neat highlights. The rarest bird I had was a fly-by Broad-billed Hummingbird. These hummers are rare but annual throughout Maricopa County annually. They have a distinctive call note in flight, which sounds similar to that of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Despite that was the only semi-rare or rare bird of the day, the thick riparian area was filled with birds.
During the hike, my first cool highlight came from this adult Peregrine Falcon. For a second, I was hoping it would be a Mississippi Kite before I lifted my binoculars up. There was a historical breeding record for Mississippi Kite somewhere along the Verde River, Maricopa County's only breeding record of the species. On a county scale, I think Box Bar would actually be possible place for a pair to breed if they made it here. They like cottonwood and willow riparian forests with tamarisk nearby. There is some sort of insect that is found on tamarisk trees that the kites like to feed on. And Box Bar has some tall tamarisks throughout it's duration. But back to the Peregrine, it is always cool to see this incredible predator....
I then started to see Lesser Nighthawks flying around in the sky. Cool! Funny thing is, it was close to being 8 A.M. in the morning and had been light for over two hours. The Lesser Nighthawks didn't want to sleep apparently.
I then walked along the Verde River and noticed a flock of Lesser Nighthawks feeding low over the water! I thought it wouldn't last long, but I was wrong with my time estimate. Here is a view of the Verde close to where I stood for the next 30 minutes. Actually, do you see the reeds along the shore at the bottom left corner of the screen. I was actually standing right by them. If you look closely in the picture, you can see one of the Nighthawks.
There must have been plenty of insects, because the Nighthawks swarmed over this area. There were probably 6-8 of them I would guess. They would fly be me on a regular basis at very close distances. Lesser Nighthawks aren't easy to photograph at close range, but I did try very hard! I haven't photographed this bird much, so this was quite the treat.
Oooh, the nighthawks are so freaking cool! Especially up close!
One of the birds that was heard the most today and seen some was the Yellow-breasted Chat. These large and huge and giant "warblers" are usually pretty shy and skulky. It's more like watching a thrasher forage in a cottonwood tree up high. But this Chat was pretty cooperative.
It was a fun morning of birding at Box Bar for two hours. This is a location I should visit more. If I did visit more, there is no doubt in my head that I would find rarities from the east......