Sunday, June 3, 2012

Granite Reef Recreation Area

Granite Reef Rec Area is one of many on the Salt River that flows from the northeast mountains and down into the valley of the sun.  Many of these recreational places are great birding stops.  The Salt River is also a very popular place for many people in the Phoenix area to escape the city and go camping, hiking, tubing, and kayaking in the Salt River, so at times, especially holidays in can get very crowded and congested.  Granite Reef is known as hotbed for many varieties of birds and it almost never disappoints.  Saturday morning, this was my destination and while nothing rare presented itself it was very enjoyable for the couple of hours that I spent there before the heat got unbearable. 

The most entertainment I found was a pair of Western Kingbirds that had 3 recently fledged young in the trees.  The fledglings had not yet learned how to capture bugs in flight by themselves so they were still very much dependent on the parents.  This first photo show one of the young that had just received a morsel from one of the parent birds.

 Western Kingbirds

And just as soon as that morsel was gone, it was begging for more!

Western Kingbirds

I spent several minutes watching these birds and during that time an Ash-throated Flycatcher flew in and landed almost on the same branch of one of the fledglings. 

Ash-throated Flycatcher and Western Kingbird in the rear

It is always interesting to see 2 different species of the same family together as it is great to compare them and understand how much in common they are and in this case, it helps to understand whey they both belong in the flycatcher family.

Another visitor that was quite active in the same area were Lucy's Warblers and it was very nice and generous of one of them to land on a bare branch for my photo op!  This is a female and you can see a hint of red patch on its rump.

Lucy's Warbler

The last birds that I attempted to photograph were some Lesser Nighthawks.  They belong to the family of night jars and are most generally a nocturnal bird flying through the air catching insect in the large gaping beaks.  They are a migratory bird and this was my first observation of them so far this year.  They were at least 15 of them flying over the lake water but at quite a distance from me.  Since they sleep most of the day, they are usually very hard to find in a tree or on the ground as they blend in so well with their surroundings.  I decided to try and capture some shots on them in flight and found out it is not an easy thing to do as they zigzag all over the sky.  Here is one of the photos I got that at least shows the field markings of one of them.

Lesser Nighthawk

And as was making my way to my car, one of them flew overhead on the road and I had just enough time to lift the camera and fire off a shot and came away with this photo.

Lesser Nighthawk

 A very challenging task, and even though the photos are not as crisp as I would like, I can live with these photo until a better opportunity comes along.


  1. Nice work Gordon! You're right, NIghthawks are a real challenge. I have a hard enough getting binocular looks at them, haven't even tried photographing yet.

    Your shots turned out great I think! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great photos, Gordon; and even better tips on a nice place to chase the little birdies. That's pretty close to our house and now I've got to get up there early some morning and have a look. Thanks for sharing!

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