Pacific Wren

Pacific Wren
Pacific Wren

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Glendale Recharge Ponds

I vowed I would always make posts in chronological order, but obviously that all went by the wayside.  Got busy in too many birding adventures that I have missed a couple of posts.  On April 28th I decided to find out if there was anything new to see in the category of wading birds by making a trip to the Glendale Recharge Ponds in the west valley  This is a place that attracts a lot of unusual migrants from time to time.  This is an unforgiving place on a hot day as there are no trees and depending on which ponds have water, viewing the birds is not too bad, but photography is most generally fairly difficult as most of the birds will fly to the other side of the pond you are viewing, or to another one of the ponds that might be holding water.  Despite the obstacles, I did manage to capture some photos of some water/shore birds and a few others as well. 

One of the most common 'peeps' (sandpipers) in and around Arizona throughout the winter months is the Least Sandpiper.  They can be confused with the Western Sandpiper when both are in their winter plumage. The leg color is the most distinguishing feature as the Least Sandpiper has yellowish-green legs and the Western Sandpiper has black legs.  But beware, the angle of the sun, and mud on legs can sometimes make a Least Sandpiper look like it has black legs.  This day, there was no doubt on them and part of that is the fact that the Westerns were also showing off their more colorful summer plumage.  Westerns are not nearly as numerous as the Least in the winter months..

 Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Then we had plenty of wading birds as well such as the American Avocet and the Black-necked Stilts.  Both birds were quite numerous in the shallow water and both are quite handsome; with the Avocets all decked out in their more colorful breeding plumage.  The photo of the Avocet is most likely a female as they tend to have a stronger more up-curved bill than the males.  

 American Avocet

 Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

Another very common wading bird in AZ in the winter is the Long-billed Dowitcher, which is usually in its winter plumage of gray and white, but these were molting into their summer breeding plumage before heading north and they are quite handsome when they look so vibrant as this.

Long-billed Dowitcher

And of course we have probably the most common land bird that is not quite a sandpiper, but a close relative, the fanatical and yet sometimes inconspicuous Killdeer.  What was cool about this visit is that I also discovered some fledglings out in the mudflats and they were blending in quite well with the mud.  Even a couple of the adults were trying to play hide-n-seek with me.

 Killdeer

 Killdeer

 Killdeer chick

Killdeer chick

Some of the other birds that were present included a Savannah Sparrow, a Western Kingbird, a Red-winged Blackbird, and a colony of nesting Cliff Swallows that had already hatched and fledged several young ones this year.  The Savannah Sparrow is one of the sparrow species that is good to learn as it just might show up just about anywhere and there are some variances to this species throughout the US.  The Western Kingbird is always a welcomed sight as it heralds in the summer weather and it is a bird that was always a summer resident back in Nebraska on the farm.  The Red-winged Blackbird is a very familiar and common species to most people and this one was putting on a display for the females.  Hopefully they get turned on by mud encrusted feet!  

 Red-winged Blackbird

 Savannah Sparrow

Western Kingbird

 Cliff Swallow nesting colony

 Cliff Swallow fledgling

Cliff Swallow adult

For about a ½ hour while I was checking out the birds a Coyote was 2 ponds away from me and barking and howling up quite a storm.  While the distance was not going to make for a great photo, I still could not help trying to get a photo.

Wyle E. Coyote


  




6 comments:

  1. You have great shots here!! These birds are so tricky to get up close and personal with. I don't know why but I am becoming a big fan of the shorebirds. They fun to ID. One has yellow legs, the other does not. Good tips for birders. Now when we put all the shorebirds together in the hundreds or thousands....well that's a whole other story!:)

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    1. I am by no means an expert on the shorebirds, but getting better. They can be a bit boring when we see them in winter plumage, but when they molt into that summer plumage, they are awesome, for example your Stilt Sandpiper photo!

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  2. Truly wonderful photographs of the avocet and stilts - what stunning birds they are!

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  3. Hi again Gordon - is it just me, or is there something strange about the feet of the Red-winged Blackbird? . . they look too large or swollen?!? What do you think? Duncan

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    1. They look like they are encrusted with mud from walking around in the mud flats at this location. Thanks for the comments!

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  4. Hope you are right. It looks like 'bumblefoot' or avian pox to me. From a quick internet search, I see that these diseases have been recorded in Red-winged Blackbird before and is most prevalent among gregarious species such as this.

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