Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Opposites - Glendale Ponds and Mt Ord

After my return from Texas, birding friend, Jason Morgan and I teamed up on Saturday and Sunday to do some birding in Maricopa County.  On Saturday we met up at the Glendale Recharge Ponds early in the morning knowing that this place is rather unforgiving in the summertime as there is no shade and when the
Arizona temperatures start rising, this can be a miserable place to be.  But there were some reports of some shore birds that had been migrating through and timing has to be right to find them before they move on.  We managed to find 2 new life birds for Jason, the Marbled Godwit and an unexpected Bullock's Oriole.

Bullock's Oriole

Marbled Godwit

We also found plenty of evidence of some of the resident birds already nesting.  We found 3 nesting American Avocets and 1 nesting Black-necked Stilt and one more pair of Black-necked Stilts preparing for the nesting process.

American Avocet - nesting

American Avocet - nesting

Black-necked Stilt - nesting

Black-necked Stilt - (Aren't they acrobatic???!!!)

We had made plans in advance to visit Mt Ord on Sunday as it was a new area for Jason, so we met up at 6:00 am the next morning and headed north on the Beeline Hwy to the Mt Ord turnoff.  The target bird that day for Jason was the Black-chinned Sparrow and this spot is one of the most reliable places to locate this much sought after Emberizid.  It was not long and we quickly found them and from there on, anything we found were going to be icing on the cake.  Gray Vireos seem to also favor the same habitat as the Black-chinned Sparrow and we found these as well.

Gray Vireo

Rufous-crowned Sparrows can also be found in this location as well and at least one of those showed itself in the open instead of hiding low to the ground in the in the grasses and shrubs.  An Ash-throated Flycatcher was also found in the lower areas of Mt Ord near the sparrows and vireo.

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Ash-throated Flycatcher

As we moved up to higher elevations, the warblers became more common along with some flycatchers and a very colorful tanager and a gnatcatcher that was found everywhere and feeding some fledglings..

 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

 Black-throated Gray Warbler

 Painted Redstart

 Olive-sided Flycatcher

Western Wood-Pewee

Western Tanager

Western Scrub-Jay

At the top, we found a mass of Ladybugs swarming a small clump of grass, which was really quite awesome.  I have never seen this many in one spot in my life.  We also discovered a baby Greater Short-horned Lizard, which are always a great find and on the 1688 road heading back to our car we found a very calm but stunning Gopher Snake crossing our path that was about 3½ feet long.


Greater Short-horned Lizard

 Gopher Snake

Gopher Snake

This was a great day to be out and enjoying nature at its finest; awesome selection of birds with a few cool insects and reptiles thrown in for good measure.  I believe Jason got 4 new life birds on this trip and coupled with the 2 from the day before it was a 6 new bird weekend for Jason.  It is always a pleasure and a lot of fun to find new birds for others and birding with Jason is always a great experience.



  1. Great finds Gordon and great captures of so many of AZ's birds at two of Maricopa's premier locations. Can't wait to get out this weekend.

  2. Nice post Gordon! Great pictures!

    1. Thank you Cole!
      It is always great to get a variety of critters, birds, reptiles and even insects. While the focus might be on birds, some of the others can really help to make the trip worthwhile.