On Saturday and Sunday, I had the privilege of showing a Facebook friend some birding spots in and around Phoenix. Jim Austin-Cole was in the area visiting and wanted to see some Arizona birds. We found several new life birds for him and some he found on his own before we met up. It was a pleasure in assisting him and one of his target birds was the Burrowing Owl. That one was an easy one as I know of 3 places that one can surely find these remarkable birds, so my first stop was Zanjero Park where Desert Rivers Audubon Society has successfully set up habitat for them and introduced some of these birds. I am sure he must have taken a couple dozen photos, so I will submit only one of my photos of one that really had its eye on us and was really to scramble down its burrow if it felt threatened.
Bufflehead-2 males and 6 females
While we were at the park, we were also entertained by 2 American Kestrels. This one could have picked a bit more attractive landing post for photos, but obviously this must be a favorite perch of hers.
From there we headed to the Salt River and our first stop was the Pebble Beach Recreation Area to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Red-breasted Sapsucker. (I will have a post on that bird a bit later with my photos). But while there, Jim not only got the sapsucker as a new life bird but the Phainopepla as well.
Next we ventured further north to Saguaro Lake and the Butcher Jones Beach area. While we were there, the Bufflehead were quite numerous and actually got close enough to capture some decent photos of them. This is our smallest duck in the United States and I think the males are quite handsome, especially when the sunlight reflects the various colors on the black part of their heads. One of the males even got into a wing exercising moment and guess I was lucky enough to have my camera firing away at the time.
We also witnessed a Pied-billed Grebe surfacing from a dive and had what seemed to be a fairly large fish in its beak. We watched it several moments struggling to swallow this fish and it finally went down the hatch. For awhile I was not so sure it was going to get it down without choking.
Finally we headed back towards town with a short stop at Granite Reef Recreation Area and I managed to capture a photo of a Northern Cardinal tucked in behind some twigs and also a Ruddy Duck that seemed to hug the shore up close to us. Also had the honor to meet fellow birder/blogger Lawrence Butler during our short time there.
To finish off the day, (we had run out of time), we made a very short stop at the Gilbert Riparian Water Ranch and with the sun dipping very low in the western sky, we managed to find a Loggerhead Shrike that was not the least bit afraid of us. The sunset glow gives this bird a different but warmer look than normal.
Lest some people think it is only about the birds, just had to add a photo of one of the small groups of Salt River Horses that frequent the area. Always nice to find them and enjoy them when we can.
This was the first day of birding with Jim. The Sunday trip will be in my next post.