Monday, September 2, 2013
Mid-week Birding Splurge
Just to be different for a change, I decided to fight rush hour traffic and head on out to the Glendale Recharge Ponds in the middle of the week one day after I left work. When I left work on a Thursday afternoon, the heavy traffic was just getting started, but I had made up my mind to get out there and see what I could find. Of course one of my birding friends, Tommy D., had already posted that he had found a Snowy Plover a few days earlier. Thanks to Tommy, I had seen this bird 2 years earlier for the very first time, so it was not going to be a life bird, but a great bird to find anytime as they are rare in Arizona except during migration, when a few are found at various places. It was hot and humid, but cloudy and a thunderstorm was quickly building up to the south and appeared to he headed right for the ponds. Only two of the ponds had water and only one of the two had the right amount of water for this bird. In the process of searching for this very small plover, I had a group of Western Sandpipers come in close up while I was standing there and of course the camera was in action.
A White-faced Ibis flew in as well and allowed some photos of it as well. This is a very oddly colored bird and the iridescent feathering can really present a wide array of colors depending on how the sunlight falls on it. This one even showed a bit of pink in its feathers.
Another bird that was quite numerous was the Horned Lark. Their unique coloring can make them difficult to spot on the soil where they like to reside and many times the best views of one is when it is flying away. Found a couple that allowed me to approach close enough to capture a couple of photos.
Since I was not having much luck finding my target bird, I eventually headed to the other pond and along the way I saw an Osprey take flight on the road and head to the area of the canal. Since I had decided to pursue the Osprey, I noticed a Red-tailed Hawk at the top of a power pole. I approached the pole slowly and quietly taking photos along the way. Finally at the last stop for photos, I could sense it was going to take flight, and it did as I was shooting multiple frames. I call this sequence: Ready, Set, Go!!!!!
Finally started spending some time at the second pond to try and locate that Snowy Plover, and once again I was striking out. But I did have a bit of a consolation prize, a Spotted Sandpiper, and for once it was mixed in with some of the other shore birds. Usually they are relatively rather solitary and keep to themselves. While my photos were really focused on this bird I found it interesting to share one photo that also includes a Killdeer and a Least Sandpiper.
Least Sandpiper in front, Killdeer in back, Spotted Sandpiper on the right
Also spotted on the edge of this second pond was a Red Saddlebags Dragonfly. Another new one to me and I had to look it up to identify it.
After scanning this second pond and still not finding my target bird the Snowy Plover and watching the thunderstorm rolling my way from the south, I decided I better start heading for the car which meant I had to walk right past the first pond once again. As I did this, I heard a Sora calling and decided to see if it might make an appearance by sticking its head out of the grasses. Naturally that wasn't going to happen, but I scanned the pond one more time and lo and behold, my target bird the Snowy Plover showed itself. It was a bit of a distance away, and as small as they are they are easily overlooked and I knew immediately when I found it my day was now complete.
And finally I give you the Snowy Plover!!!!
Storm rapidly approaching, I quickly made it to my car and head home in the late afternoon rush hour traffic, but the journey was worth all the traffic frustration.