Monday, November 12, 2012
Jewel of the Creek Preserve - 11 Nov 2012
Sunday morning arose with a definite change in the weather and Ellen joined me once again and we paid a visit to a new birding spot that I had not yet been to, the Jewel of the Creek Preserve which is located a few miles north of the community of Cave Creek, AZ. When we arrived it was 'COLD'!!! This place is a creek and a stream bed and the sun had not yet risen over the mountains on the east side. We even found frost on the grass and dead tree limbs, but some of the birds were already stirring, including the Gambel's Quail, Mourning Doves, and the songs of Verdins and a Curve-billed Thrasher beginning to greet the day. Ruby-crowned Kinglets were everywhere and the cold was not slowing them down. In the winter in Arizona these little 4¼" birds are very active as they fervently explore every bush and tree for any small insect that is exposed. The ruby crown is seldom seen.
This is a great birding spot and I think it would be interesting to visit this place in spring or summer. We had the fortune of seeing 3 wren species; Canyon Wren, Rock Wren, and the HouseWren. I am sure that on a really good day, one could also find Cactus Wren and Bewick's Wren.
The most colorful bird of the day had to be a male Northern Cardinal. Even though he did not want to fully expose himself in full sunlight for great photos, he still brightened up the landscape. He was very intent on feasting on what I believe are wolf berries. But he was not the only one doing so as a bit further down the trail we witnessed a male Gila Woodpecker doing the same a distance away.
At one spot we found 3 Gila Woodpeckers drinking water from a pool of water, but at the same time a Black Phoebe was apparently intent on protecting that area as it repeatedly kept chasing the Gila Woodpeckers away from its claimed water territory.
Probably one of the most exciting finds was a couple of Red-naped Sapsuckers, which is another species of woodpecker. Although these 2 were hard to photograph because of them being in deep vegetation and in really deep shade, I did manage to capture a photo of one, but without much detail. In the same area we also found a female Anna's Hummingbird in the trees. It amazes me that these tiny birds can tolerate freezing temperatures.
Ellen and I did make a point to re-visit this location maybe next spring to maybe find some migrants and also what might occur there during the breeding season. Thanks to Tommy D. for having this place listed on his Maricopa County birding sites.