Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Canal Birding in Arizona

Recently I have taken to get some hiking exercise along one of our neighborhood canals.  This canal is a border between the cities of Mesa and Chandler and it has been greatly improved with a nice concrete walkway on the south edge of the canal and pedestrian traffic lights installed where it crosses the major heavy traffic streets.  Not sure how far east it goes, but I know that one can walk all the way to parts of
Tempe to the west.  I had a Facebook friend suggest I check it out as there seemed to be plenty of bird life all along the length.  And she was right!   (Thanks Tina!) 

I have discovered this has been the best place for me to see and photograph the Greater Yellowlegs.  On my last visit, I found 3 of these birds within just the first mile and they have been quite accommodating.  What fun it is to watch them bob up and down while watching me as I take photos.  Here is a variety of photos in different poses.  Notice the black toenails in the photos.  Also note the bi-colored bill and the very slight upturn of the bill.  These are key identifications of this species compared to the Lesser Yellowlegs. 

 Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

 Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

This last visit I was graced with an elegant Black-necked Stilt.  Such a lovely and very photogenic wading bird and when I can capture the red eye clearly of this species, then I am happy with my photo.

Black-necked Stilt

Another bird that I see on almost every visit is the Green Heron.  Quite often they fly away before I can get close enough for a shot, but finally one of them stayed put as I walked past.  Just wish it could have chosen a better back drop!  On one other occasion, another one attempted to hide behind a stick.

Green Heron

Green Heron

The Belted Kingfisher has always been one of my nemesis birds as far as photographs, but along this canal, I had a nice male finally allow me to approach and get some decent photos.  Usually this bird is quite skittish and can be difficult to approach for a good photo.

 Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Of course this is not about water birds only, there are usually a few predators in the vicinity as well and this handsome American Kestrel was another of those obliging avian friends.

 American Kestrel

 American Kestrel

A couple of ducks also presented themselves for photos; a Ring-necked Duck female and a very handsome Mallard drake.  The Mallard is probably the most common and recognizable duck in the United States, but one cannot help but marvel at the iridescent green head on this bird. 

Ring-necked Duck-female

Mallard

Of course a blog would not be complete without a mammal of some kind.  Saw a couple of Harris's Antelope Ground Squirrels on the opposite bank running and hiding, so I just stopped and got myself and my camera ready and waited for them and sure enough one of them had to come up and check on me to see if I was still around and what I was up to.  

Harris's Antelope Ground Squirrel

Don't be surprised to see more future blogs about this wonderful spot for getting some great exercise and observing some very enjoyable wildlife as well.

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