With the Arizona temps finally starting to fall, decided it was time to start visiting some local spots in and around Phoenix. Ellen once again joined me on this visit and we saw some great birds. Tres Rios is not open to the public and one needs to obtain permission before entering this place. That is probably one of the reasons that this place is a very special place to go birding as there are relatively few humans in and around the area. We tallied 43 species of birds during our 3 hour visit.
One of the highlights of the trip was actually viewing and being able to photograph a Least Bittern. This is a water bird that likes to hide deep in the reeds near water. I had caught glimpses of them in the past and have heard them on just about every trip I had made to this location, but this time around, we found one that allowed us some proper time for observation. Check out that foothold this bird is showing. Once it got tired of watching us, it very quietly disappeared back into the reeds.
Another bird that showed off very well despite being one that also likes to hide in the reeds was a Marsh Wren. This bird is another one that is more often heard than seen.
The most numerous birds were Neo-tropic Cormorants and Yellow-headed Blackbirds; which must have numbered in the hundreds, flying over constantly in large flocks. Another very common bird was the Song Sparrow and they too were in the vegetation in and around the water, but they were a bit more easy to view, often coming to the top of shrubs and reeds to check things out like the one below.
With many birds in flight through out the area, of course I had to attempt some in-flight shots. The Osprey were the most numerous, we also saw a Red-tailed Hawk, a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron and a distant American White Pelican.
Black-crowned Night Heron-Juvenile
American White Pelican
Also found many perching birds, including a Black Phoebe, a Turkey Vulture, a Belted Kingfisher, an Abert's Towhee (that really blends in with its background), and a White-crowned Sparrow peeking over the tops of some leaves. We can expect to see these White-crowned Sparrows for the rest of the winter and into the spring when they will once again head north.
Also came across a Spotted Sandpiper which can be one of the easiest 'peeps' to identify by observing their behavior. They are constantly dipping or bobbing their tail as they forage along the edges of ponds and lakes. We also found an American Coot out of the water and walking on the trail, which seemed a bit unusual for them. But it gave us a chance to observed its lobed toes.
The last bird featured in photo is a Common Ground Dove. (Not sure why it has a moniker with the word Common in it, as it is far from being common in central Arizona.) Maybe it is common in places further south in Mexico. But seeing it just reinforced the habit for a birder to study every bird you see as it would have been easy to pass this off as an Inca Dove. When it first flew into out area, that was the first impression I got because of the red flight feathers under its wings, but once it landed and we took a look at it on the ground, we quickly realized that it was not an Inca Dove but a Common Ground Dove. It has a distinct scaled appearance on the head and breast, a bill with a pink base, and a short tail.
Common Ground Dove