Bonaparte's Gull. This guy gave me hell in my 2011 big year and didn't appear for me at all during that year. But this year the Bonaparte's Gull and Franklin's Gull decided to change places.
Vaux's Swifts are always fun to see, especially when they decide to make some low rounds with swallows.
One of this years biggest highlights was accessing a territory that hadn't been birded in over 40 years, the Reavis Ranch area of the Superstition Mountains. For starters, this place is another high elevation zone in Maricopa County that harbors excellent pine and oak habitats. 8 intrepid birders, including myself, led by Troy Corman and Felipe Guererro, backpacked up into these mountains for two days. The place is awesome, and due to time, we were only able to explore roughly half of the area before we had to quit. This area also has a perennial stream running through it, which added to the epic demeanor the place already had. We purified water because of this stream, or else the trip would be a no go. The pine forests of the Superstitions held Spotted and Flammulated Owls, Calliope Hummingbirds, Dusky-capped Flycatchers, the usual forest residents that Mount Ord and Slate Creek Divide may have, and a major highlight in my first Maricopa County Wild Turkey. Photos were hard to obtain of birds on this trip, but the memories of it won't go away soon!
In May, Caleb Strand's Painted Bunting returned for a second consecutive summer at Tres Rios. Gosh, is this bird stunning or what?! (insert your own thoughts or comments, cause words can't do a male PABU justice).
Townsend's Warblers are sexy. This one was at Rio Salado.
The male Bronzed Cowbird is one that is truly awesome, and may be the villain of the birds.
Least Bitterns are extremely cool, but I can't help but want their American Bittern cousin for my Maricopa 2016. I've struck out three times on American already...
Spotted Owls bred at Slate Creek Divide for the second consecutive year (that we know of..)
This molty Black Tern was awesome to see on a hot July day at Glendale Recharge Ponds.
August through early September in Maricopa County was very exciting. Shorebirds were everywhere in late summer/early fall.
Family of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks
Wood Duck in Phoenix...during August!
Baird's Sandpiper, Snowy Plover, and Least Sandpiper
Calliope Hummingbird on Mount Ord's Road 1688
Tricolored Heron at Gilbert Water Ranch
Short-billed Dowitcher and Semipalmated Plover
Caleb Strand found this very rare Red Knot in Gila Bend, Maricopa County's first since 2009 (which I also saw). Caleb went on a shorebird tear during these months and found outstanding birds and numbers of bird. He also found a Ruddy Turnstone.
October started off very strong and was a very strong month for adding birds. My year list went from 297 to 312 during October! It started off with a rare Tennessee Warbler and an elusive Long-eared Owl.
I hit 300 this year early on October 6th in Maricopa County, with this Townsend's Solitaire!
Caleb continued his shorebird streak when he found this Black-bellied Plover on his patch near his house!
Tyler Loomis found this Palm Warbler at Tempe Town Lake on October 16th. Only the third time I have ever seen this species, and all of my records have been from Maricopa County. True to it's nature, this Palm Warbler constantly pumped it's tail up and down.
After not chasing a cooperative Red-necked Grebe on Canyon Lake's waters this year, Allan and Reba Dupilka found this Red-necked Grebe on Lake Pleasant. I was fortunate to see this bird, as well as find my year's first Common Loon and three surprise Surf Scoters.
Rousseau Sod Farms can produce Longspurs and other nice rarities. After hearing a Lapland Longspur and seeing Chestnut-collared Longspur in a previous week, it was awesome to add my third spur, the McCown's Longspur.
Juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Mesquite Wash.
What does the remainder of this year list come down to? Well, I don't have Ross's Goose or Fox Sparrow yet, and there are a handful of others I should get. Stay tuned for more as I hope to continue adding birds to my record at a good pace. Here's the list and dates for what I've done so far...
Maricopa, Arizona Year List