Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Cabin Fever ???
Whoever heard of cabin fever in the summer? Most generally I associate that with being cooped up in the winter in the northern climes. In Arizona, you just need to change the season to summer and it is just about the same thing. The heat sometimes has a tendency to keep one indoors for far too long. Been hibernating too long in the comfort of the A/C of the house. This last weekend I decided I needed to get out and see some of my avian friends and anything else that nature could dish up for me!
To start off the weekend, I decided to check out the Glendale Recharge Ponds in the west valley. This is not the most hospitable place to visit in the summer as there are no trees and the sun quickly makes the place very uncomfortable for humans. The birds don't seem to mind though and this spot can be a hot spot for rarities, especially during migration and August is usually the month that some of these rarities start showing up. I planned my visit to arrive before the sun rose and take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures and it was a pleasant visit, before the heat started getting toasty about 9:30. Only 2 of the 6 ponds had water in them, but the vegetation was quite lush and both spots were definitely being used by many birds. While I was not lucky enough to find anything rare, it was still nice to observe the many birds.
This place is where I have been lucky enough to see both Great Yellowlegs and Lesser Yellowlegs together in the same spot and it is always a learning experience to observe the two species side-by-side. This time I was even able to capture some photos of them. The Greater yellowlegs is the most common species seen in Arizona, but Lessers do show up from time to time. In the photo below, there are 3 Greaters and 1 Lesser (and a couple of Long-billed Dowitchers and Least Sandpipers thrown in for good measure). The Lesser is the 2nd bird from the left with a Greater slightly in front and to the left of it. In this photo, the size of the bill is quite obvious. The Lesser's bill length is about the same length of the head from the base of the bill to the back of the head. Compare the Greater with a bill that is 1½ to 2 times the length of its head. Also note the very slight upturned bill of the Greater. Lesser bill is very straight. Obviously they are easy to differentiate when seen together, and more difficult when you see just one. But with experience, one gets to know the differences along with call notes of the two species which are very different.
Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs
This place is usually not the best place for photos as the bird tend to see you long before you can approach them, so distances make photos much tougher. But on this day, there was an exception, a juvenile Pied-billed Grebe that apparently has not yet learned to fear humans. Since it is still showing some of the stripes around its head and neck, this was a year-hatch bird and has probably 'flown the coop', so to speak from where it fledged. No adults were anywhere around. These birds are quite adorable and are one of my favorite waterfowl. Just cannot resist taking photos when they are so accommodating.
The dragonflies were quite plentiful and I was able to capture a photo of a new one that I had not seen. This is a Black Saddlebags.
It was a brief outing, but one that I needed and even though no rarity was discovered, it was a very enjoyable visit.