Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Great Birds to Recharge Up With at Glendale

Its that time of year when my closest birding hotspot, the Glendale Recharge Ponds, is teeming with different waterbirds such as shorebirds, gulls, terns, waterfowl, and more.  Fall migration is in full swing, and it is one of the best times of the year to be birding and scanning Glendale.  Other good times of year are of course spring migration as well as late fall and winter.  Basically, the Glendale Recharge Ponds are worth a visit any time of the year.  You never know what may show up.  With that in mind, I look for something odd or out-of-the-ordinary whenever I visit Glendale.  Besides that, it's a great place to study many different bird species and to brush up on species identification.

The best find at Glendale Recharge Ponds during this fall migration so far has been a Sabine's Gull that was found by Bill Grossi yesterday.  I wasn't expecting it today on my visit, but as I scanned through shorebirds and waterfowl, there it was.

I didn't know what the bird's age was when I read the report, but I was surprised that it was in front of me and I was even more surprised that it was a stunning adult.  

Sabine's Gulls are very distinctive at all times, especially when in flight. It's pied wing pattern of black, white, and gray make it a "flying field mark". This bird had a complete dark gray hood that extended lower on the front of it's neck and higher on the back of it's neck. The gray hood had a black base to it. It also had a black bill with a yellow tip at the point of it's bill.

Amazingly at one point, the Sabine's Gull kicked up and flew around the southeastern corner of Basin 5 where I was standing.  It passed by me at no more than ten feet with eye level views!  If my automatic focus wasn't screwed up, I probably would have killer flight shots to go along with it.

Other than most of the Sabine's Gull population being far out at sea during their migration, some of them venture inland annually and late August-September is a good time frame to see them in Arizona. I watched this bird on and off from 7:45 to roughly 9:45 before I didn't see it again. Robert Bowker observed the gull with me for some of the duration I saw it and Joshua Smith and I looked for it in the later hour of this observation without success.

Baird's Sandpipers have been among the many shorebirds I have seen.  One of the better birds I saw in my last few visits here was a Snowy Plover that gave good scope views but was otherwise out of reach for my camera lense.  

At the Glendale Recharge Ponds, shorebirds congregate together a lot.  One can make photo quizzes if they would like to.  I've got one right here.  In the next two pictures, there are four shorebird species in each photo.  Can you name them?  

The Semipalmated Sandpiper is one that is sought after every year by birders.  It looks like a Western Sandpiper, only it has a short blunt-tipped bill and lacks the rufous-tones the Western has on it's scapulars.  Some Semipalmateds have longer bills, which make them difficult to identify at times from Westerns if they are distant or if views aren't good.

Here is a comparison between Semipalmated (left) and Western (right) Sandpipers.

The water levels at Glendale in Basins 1 and 5 have been perfect for shorebirds.  I hope the levels continue to be awesome.  As we get into fall, enjoy birding..


  1. I think I can see Western, Semipalmated, and Least Sandpipers and a few Wilson's Phalaropes in there.

    1. Thanks for participating Josh, you are correct! :)