Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rackensack to Seven Springs to Bartlett

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday on November 4th, 2014, I birded throughout the Seven Springs area and I followed that up with a visit to Bartlett Lake.  It was a beautiful day to be out birding, I couldn't have asked for better weather.

As I headed up north towards Seven Springs, I made several stops along the way and I never really officially made it to Seven Springs itself.  My first stop was at Rackensack Canyon, which is a very fun location to bird at.  In December last year, I came here and found close to 15 Fox Sparrows while walking in the canyon over a relatively short distance.  I was hoping to repeat Fox Sparrow history in this canyon yesterday, but I came up with zero.  Perhaps it's still a bit early for these birds, but most of my previous visits here in season have at least resulted in a Fox Sparrow or two.  Despite not getting the bird, the canyon was very birdy in the 55 minutes I spent here.  The main highlight was three CRISSAL THRASHERS, two of which I had excellent visuals of, and one was a heard only.  In a half-mile's worth of coverage, I had 31 species of birds.  Other highlights included GRAY FLYCATCHER calling across the canyon, 4 WESTERN SCRUB-JAYS, 3 ROCK, 2 HOUSE, 2 BEWICK'S, and 5 CACTUS WRENS; 3 GREEN-TAILED, 5 SPOTTED, 6 CANYON, and 4 ABERT'S TOWHEES; 3 RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROWS, and 3 LINCOLN'S SPARROWS.

Western Scrub-Jay


Rackensack Canyon

From Rackensack Canyon I went shortly northeast to Lower Camp Creek.  This area is always a gorgeous place to visit, whether if it's active with birds or not.  Out of 30 species I recorded here, the best highlight I had was a single RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH foraging in trees along the creek while I hiked along the flowing creek.  Other highlights I had in the area of Lower Camp Creek included a CASSIN'S VIREO, 2 BRIDLED TITMOUSE, 2 BROWN CREEPERS, CANYON WREN, 13 HERMIT THRUSH, BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, DARK-EYED JUNCOS, and 5 PINE SISKINS.

Lower Camp Creek

Mr. Oregon sipping on it

Because I was in the area, I looked for the Grasshopper Sparrow that James McKay found on November 3rd.  I didn't find the bird despite the fact I had a quick glimpse of a sparrow that seemed to be an Ammodramus.  In this area there were many BREWER'S and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, as well as several LINCOLN'S and 4 VESPER and 5 BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS.  A LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE also made an appearance.

I then visited and spent over two hours walking the dense Seven Springs Wash.  The habitat in this difficult-to-navigate wash is incredible, and I was kicking myself for not starting the morning here.  I've birded some of this wash once in the past, and I wanted to explore it again.  I started near the eastern reaches of the wash where the riparian trees start, and I then walked west up the wash until I came up upon the Seven Springs Recreation Area itself.  Strenuous loop hikes are fun in my opinion.  My main highlight in the wash was pishing in a very curious and showy PAINTED REDSTART.  A TOWNSEND'S WARBLER was also nearby, and the Painted Redstart chased off the Townsend's Warbler while I was observing the two.  Other highlights in the wash among 25 species included 2 HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHERS, a close encounter with a cooperative CANYON WREN, TOWNSEND"S SOLITAIRE, and another TOWNSEND'S WARBLER.

Seven Springs Wash

You gotta love the Canyons of Arizona.  Both the wren and rock formations.

Painted Redstart

Townsend's Warbler

Seven Springs Wash

I didn't explore Seven Springs Recreation Area due to lower activity levels as the afternoon quickly crept in.  I took a quick drive a short distance up the scenic road up in the direction of the 5200' Mount Humboldt and got to see a SAGE THRASHER, which are quite numerous here and are very viewable in the earlier hours of the day.

Sage Thrasher

Mt. Humboldt area

After finishing up at the Seven Springs Area, I then headed out to the Bartlett Lake Recreation Area.  This lake is long but yet very wide and big in parts, and I think it is a difficult lake to bird.  Access is impossible in sections where the lake has distant masses to scan.  Here I had many duck sp., which I hate to write down in notebook.  As I got out to bird the lake, a second-year BALD EAGLE flew overhead.  Once I got to scanning the lake over the next 2.5 hours I had ~350 WESTERN GREBES, ~50 EARED GREBES, ~10 HORNED GREBES, and 5 PIED-BILLED GREBES.  The best highlight I had was being able to make out a distant female type RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, which is always cool to see.  4 BUFFLEHEAD and several distant AMERICAN WIGEON and REDHEAD were make-out-able in Duck spuh flock.  2 RING-BILLED GULLS and 2 Gull Sp. were also present.  31 species total at Bartlett Lake.

Bald Eagle

Bartlett Lake

It was a great day to be out birding in areas I haven't visited in a long time.

Good Birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

Go Birding in Maricopa County!
My Website:
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-


  1. Pretty sweet Tommy. It has been a great past few days. It's about time we had nicer weather to bird! It's all starting to pick up again....and I'm feeling the energy come back:) Excellent birds!

    1. Thanks Chris! Yeah this weather is great, and when the weather gets like this, I usually bird from sun up to sun down. November and December are two of my favorite birding months, and I usually find my share of rarities during those months, hopefully I'll find some decent ones this year!

  2. Jeepers, you find lots of good birds! Almost every bird you listed would be a lifer for me, but that Painted Redstart takes the cake! That guy is high on my list for this spring.

    Good birding and great field trip report Tommy!

    1. Thanks Josh! Hopefully I'll have work off when you visit in March so I can show you around and get you some awesome lifers! The Painted Redstart is a favorite of mine, and I have never gotten sick of seeing them.

  3. Awesome post and photos Mr. Tommy!!! When it comes to photographing the CRTH's I always end up getting in a huge slap-fight with the bird (FYI the bird always wins!). I love any plumage of the BAEA but the 3rd year plumage is almost as good as the adult!

    1. Thanks Caleb! The Crissals can be challenging indeed but every now and then I'll get lucky with them. At Rackensack Canyon they have shown very well more than once when I have visited. The Bald Eagle was very fun to see and photograph :)