Ellen and I were supposed to take part in a CBC (Christmas Bird Count) in Payson, AZ this past weekend and due to snow in the Payson area, it got postponed, so instead we opted to go out to Tres Rios Wetlands once again and walk the entire 2½ miles out and back for a 5 mile hike to see what we might find. This place is an amazing spot for birding with lots of birds everywhere you look. We had only been there about 10 minutes when some birding friends also arrived and joined us in our walk, Scott and Fonda Christopher.
On this trip, the Sora was probably our best showing bird. It is a bird of the marshes and spends most of its time in the reeds and rushes and are more often heard than seen. Of all the Rails, it is probably the one seen most often, but even then, they are usually quite secretive and do not often make themselves visible. On this day we had 2 of them put on quite a show for the 4 of us and we all observed their nervous habit of flicking its tail. It was fun to be able to capture some photos of these birds.
With such a diverse amount of bird life in this place, it was not hard to find more birds to photograph. Other birds that were quite plentiful were Song Sparrows, Marsh Wrens, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. We also found a couple of Loggerhead Shrikes, which are always an exciting bird to find and watch as they perch out in the open looking for their next meal, almost like a miniature raptor!
'Audubon's' Yellow-rumped Warbler
And just to add challenge to the photography, of course I had to try my hand at 'in-flight' shots of some of the birds that were constantly on the wing. These included 2 Osprey, (1 with its catch of the day and 1 in search of its catch of the day), a Northern Harrier, constantly soaring low over the area in search of a meal, and another American White Pelican. This is one of the best places to find this species in Arizona. We saw over 50 of these birds in the sky over Tres Rios that day. This pelican has a wing span of about 9 feet so they are very impressive when flying over.
American White Pelican
The water birds include the Common Gallinule (an adult and also two juveniles) and a male Cinnamon Teal, which is one of the best looking waterfowl in Arizona. Also had a Great Egret fly onto the road where we were walking, so it appears just a little out of its element, which of course is the water.
Common Gallinule- adult
And to keep things interesting, we did see a small herd of Javalina running on the other road and they were not stopping, so the best I got was a rear end fading into the foliage. Always nice to try to add a photo of something other than an avian species.
What a great day the 4 of us had. We did miss a couple of birds we were looking for, but the cooperative Soras made up for our misses. Thanks to Ellen, Fonda and Scott for making it a great outing!