Sunday, July 22, 2012
Montezuma's Well---A new birding hotspot!
Last weekend, on my return to the valley of the sun, from Mund's Park, and with a birding friend, Wayne along, we made a short detour to Montezuma's Well. We first stopped at the picnic spot and found it to be a very nice place with lots of shade trees and nice restrooms and we decided to check it out. Within a few minutes we had discovered the trees and grasses were alive with birds. The place is not a photographers friend as most of the birds were in heavy shade. This weekend I travelled back to this spot mainly to try and get a glimpse of the one elusive bird that I had only heard the weekend before but was not able to see; the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. More on that later in the post. Both visits produced 3 red birds: the Vermilion Flycatcher, the Summer Tanager, and the Northern Cardinal. No photos of the Cardinals, but I did manage a couple of the Vermilion Flycatcher and the Summer Tanager. Not outstanding photos, but the red is hard to miss in the canopy of trees.
Also seen in the picnic area were Lazuli Buntings, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Anna's Hummingbird, Gila and Ladderback Woodpeckers, juvenile Yellow Warbler, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Western Wood Pewee, Bell's Vireo, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Bewick's Wren.
And finally the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. This is a very elusive bird; they tend to be very shy and definitely make it difficult to find. Photos are even harder to come by, but today when I got out of the car, it was the first bird I saw and it took off and I followed a short distance trying to get a better view. I finally got a couple of photos of it that are recognizable, but far from being what I would have liked to have gotten, so here is my very first salvageable photo of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. It is nice to know these birds are breeding in this location in Arizona. They have a very short stay in the US for breeding in the summer.
After spending a considerable amount of time in the picnic area, I ventured on to the actual sight of Montezuma's Well. This is a natural up-welling of warm water into a large limestone sink and was utilized by ancient indigenous people for irrigation for crops in the Verde Valley. It is a very interesting place to visit with no admission fees and you can follow the trail to the top looking down into the large pool of water. After only being there twice in two weekends, I have decided this is the best place to view Canyon Wrens. What show they put on both weekends. Here are 3 photos that they were so eager to give for me and my camera. (By the way this happens to be my favorite wren species! Might have been a better state bird for AZ instead of the Cactus Wren!)
Also had a Rock Wren make an appearance today that was making quite a fuss about something, but not quite sure what it was.
And to end this post I thought I would toss in a photo of a Empress Leilia Butterfly and a Katydid that I enjoyed during my short stay. If someone reads this and notices that I have missed the identification on the insects, please let me know so I can correct it.