Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Birding in Chandler, AZ
Deciding that a change of pace would be good, and after getting a report from my good friend Muriel and seeing her great photos of a Pectoral Sandpiper at Veteran's Oasis Park in Chandler, AZ, it was an obvious choice for a different destination to visit. Luckily another birding friend Ellen, was also wanting to check it out, so we met at this location early on Sunday morning. While we did not find the target bird, the Pectoral Sandpiper, we still had some nice birds to observe and one of them is the Burrowing Owl. I always have to check in on the resident pair, and as usual about all I see is their heads peeking over the edges of their man made burrows.
We discovered that the shore birds were generally absent from what was there the day before, but that is why searching for birds is sometimes a hit or miss day. We did however find a lone Cattle Egret. This bird is not a rare bird by any means, but not one that a person sees that often in Arizona. This bird is originally from Africa and Asia and in the late 1800's some were found in the northeastern part of South America as they had found their way to the new world by flying across the Atlantic Ocean. Slowly but surely, their range expanded in the Americas and by the 1940's they had started showing up in southern Texas and established themselves as a breeding avian species in the United States and they now inhabit much of south and eastern United States. It is a bit unusual to see a single bird of this species, as they usually travel and feed in small flocks.
The mosquitoes were very thick when we ventured down to the edges of the ponds, and since the shore birds were non-existent, we decided to head out and travel a bit east to the Higley Road Ponds. But on the way out, one of the resident Greater Roadrunners put on a show for us and was quite cooperative for photos. Towards the end of the show, it must have gotten tired of us watching and snapping photos, so it decided to 'moon' us! I suppose only a real birder would enjoy being 'mooned' by a Roadrunner, however, the photo does show off the undersides of its dynamic tail feathers.
Bidding adieu to Veteran's Oasis Park and the farewell gesture by the Roadrunner, Ellen and I then headed to the Higley Ponds a couple of miles away. Once we arrived, we quickly began seeing many more shorebirds that VOP had to offer. We counted at least 75 Black-necked Stilts, several Greater Yellowlegs, about 30 Least Sandpipers, a few Long-billed Dowitchers, and 22 White-faced Ibis. We spent a lot of time checking out every shorebird, but did not find anything rare.
We also discovered our first of the fall Northern Pintails. Won't be too much longer and these ducks will be quite numerous in many of the ponds in Arizona.
One other bird that we found at Veteran's Oasis Park was a White-crowned Sparrow which is a tad early for them in the valley, but it is another bird that will be quite abundant during the winter months in Arizona. They spend their winters here, but in the summer they head much further north to their breeding grounds.