Today, the destinations I chose were Papago Park and the Desert Botanical Gardens for my birding adventure. Started out very early at Papago Park which is just outside the Phoenix Zoo and I was in search of a female Hooded Merganser that had been hanging out there for some time and I had not yet seen a 'Hoodie' this year, so figured it was worth a look if I could find it. Arrived before sun-up, and walked the 3 small ponds with no sight of it and decided that I had missed it. As I was thinking about leaving and proceeding on to the Desert Botanical Gardens, (which is almost right next door), I bumped into a couple of Facebook birders/photographers (or maybe that should be reversed), Bryan and Ruth, and visited with them for a while and during our conversation another good friend, Muriel arrived, so I was in really good company. Finally I headed out to the DBG and while I was there, Bryan and Ruth showed up there as well and advised me that they finally found the 'Hoodie" back at Papago Park so when I left DBG, I stopped by to see it and capture a couple of photos.
The rest of this blog post is all about my visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens. At the admissions booth a nice young man approached me and asked me if I was a birder and so we struck up a conversation about birding and Robert was in town from Vancouver, so we joined forces to do some birding while we were there. Many of our southwestern birds were new to him, so I hope he enjoyed the visit and came away with some new life birds.
During our walks on the trails, we managed to find some Rosy-faced Lovebirds feasting on some sunflowers and once they departed a male Lesser Goldfinch paid a visit to the same flowers. For those that are interested, the lovebird has established a strong breeding population in the Phoenix area and is now a recognized species in most birding associations.
We also found a sleeping Great-horned Owl and preferred to let it sleep and not arouse it from its slumber. Also had to throw in a photo of a Gila Woodpecker for Robert's sake.
This last set of photos is a bit unique due to the fact that I found 2 species of gnatcatchers during my visit. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher made an appearance early on, and the Black-tailed Gnatcatcher made an appearance during my exit. These 2 birds are very similar in appearance to the novice birder and can be confused, especially in winter plumage, when first getting into birding. The biggest difference is trying to see the undersides of their tails. The Blue-gray has white on the underside while the Black-tailed is obviously black. But considering how busy they are, this is not always an easy task while they are flitting around in the foliage. They also have a different call which takes a bit of time to learn. In my photos, I was fortunate to capture a photo of the Blue-gray's underside of the tail and one can see the white. No such luck on the Black-tailed photos, but believe me, the photos below are of a Black-tailed.
Another fine day for birding in Arizona and some interesting birds as well.