Today I birded the Lower Salt River Recreation Area and then followed that up by a visit to Mount Ord. Besides local birding and longer trips throughout the state, I haven't been to areas I love to bird that are further in Maricopa County where I usually love to go. Because of that, today was extra fun, and there were some awesome birds to go along with it.
I started the morning off by spending over three hours of birding at an active Granite Reef Recreation Area. As soon as I got out to bird, I heard the continuing RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH calling on the west side of the picnic area. I was never able to see the bird during my time. Things got interesting when I had a large mixed flock of songbirds mobbing what seemed to most likely be a small owl in a dense mesquite tree with mistletoe. I wasn't able to see the reason for the mob, but in the mob was an adult female AMERICAN REDSTART. It's always fun to see this bird, and she was actively fanning her tail and was moving around the area very actively. Finding the Redstart was a good way to start my day. Also in the mob were numerous RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS and "AUDUBON'S" YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS and also a single WARBLING VIREO and several HOUSE WRENS. Throughout the morning, birds continued to squawk at whatever was hanging out in the dense clump. Other highlights among 54 species of birds at Granite Reef included 12 AMERICAN WIGEON, 1 GREAT and 3 SNOWY EGRETS, 1 DOUBLE-CRESTED and 1 NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, 1 GREATER ROADRUNNER, 4 BELTED KINGFISHERS (early in the morning, three females were fighting with one another over perches, it was quite the scene to watch!), 2 VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, 1 GRAY FLYCATCHER in the parking area singing and calling, a silent "WESTERN-TYPE" FLYCATCHER, and 2 calling CRISSAL THRASHERS at different ends of the area. Granite Reef is one of those awesome places that has bird activity that can change quickly by the hour, you never know what you may find!
|The yellow-ish base of her secondaries indicate an adult bird. I still have yet to see an adult male of this species.|
|This is a horrible photo, but this is all I really did need to document a Redstart!|
|The Lower Salt River. Beautiful place and scenery.|
|1 of the lowland invasive Red-breasted Nuthatches|
|"Willow Wash". A great place to look for migrants and other goodies.|
|The striking Black-throated Sparrow|
Before exiting the Lower Salt River Recreation Area, I made a quick stop at Saguaro Lake. A large raft of WESTERN GREBES were on the water, as were roughly 10 EARED GREBES and the usual yawners. A signing ROCK WREN by the parking area overlooking the lake was the best sight.
|The Rock Wren lighting up the lake and it's coots and mallards|
My final stop of the day came from a three hour exploration on Mount Ord on Forest Road 1688. I thought I had something very interesting, as the call from either a Downy Woodpecker or a Ladder-backed Woodpecker was coming from the pine and oak forest above 6000'. I've never had Downy in Maricopa County, so I was hoping for that bird. The two species do sound almost identical, so I needed to see this bird to get a confirmation. After I chased it for awhile, I wasn't able to locate it so I tried playback. Within seconds, out flew a higher-than-usual LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER from the pine forest. It's the second time I've had a Ladder-backed Woodpecker at Mount Ord in pine habitat. Hopefully that Downy will show up one of these falls or winters! I did have two very awesome highlights at Mount Ord. One of them was a NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL perched at the top of a tall pine tree, the first NPOW I've found on Mount Ord this year. And any day where I get to see an Owl, I consider to be a great day! The other cool highlight was a striking male OLIVE WARBLER at close range. Mount Ord had 24 species total, not a lot species wise, but there were pretty good numbers birds throughout Road 1688. Other highlights included ~10 ACORN WOODPECKERS, 4 HAIRY WOODPECKERS, ~15 NORTHERN FLICKERS, 1 DUSKY FLYCATCHER, 1 HUTTON'S VIREO, 15 WHITE-BREASTED and 4-5 RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, 1 BROWN CREEPER, 2 HERMIT THRUSH, 2 RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROWS, 3 SPOTTED TOWHEES (in breeding season they are the most abundant bird on the mountain) and 13 PINE SISKINS. A great day to be birding in Arizona!
|You've gotta love Mount Ord!|
Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)
Explore Maricopa County!
My Website: http://birderfrommaricopa.com
This website features Birding in Maricopa County, my online guide for finding birds and birding locations in Maricopa County, Arizona. This guide can help find birds in the Phoenix area and throughout Maricopa County. Features of the guide include: Over 100 birding hotspots divided by 13 birding areas in the county, hotspot links to eBird, directions, and tips of how to find over 260 of the regularly occurring birds in Maricopa County. View this guide here-