After so many birding trips to escape the heat of the desert and with fall finally settling in, the temperatures have subsided somewhat and now it is much more enjoyable to do some some local birding. A large part of Arizona lies in the Sonoran Desert, including Phoenix and its surrounding suburbs. Recent birding trips have been to familiar desert locations with some familiar birds. Saturday, my original goal was a long hike in South Mountain Park, but changed my plans after seeing the reports for a Red-breasted Merganser at Glendale Recharge Ponds by birding friend, Tommy DeBardeleben earlier in the week and then reconfirmed by Steve Hosmer a couple of days later. The last time I had visited this place, my camera was out of order and I tried birding it with binoculars only. This is a tough place to go birding with just binoculars as the ponds are fairly large and the waterfowl are usually on the opposite side. (Not too difficult to figure out why that is!) I also recently purchased a modest spotting scope and this would be a great tool to have when visiting this place.
I arrived there early and started scanning pond number 5, that had lots of waterfowl on it and during this time Babs Buck arrived and joined me. We spent a lot of time scanning this pond without finding our target bird, so we moved over to pond number 4 to see if maybe it might be there and after about 45 minutes we moved back to pond 5 (those 2 ponds were the only ones with water). Within about 5 minutes of returning I discovered our target bird out past some American Coots and a couple of Eared Grebes. Mergansers are diving birds and easy to miss as one scans a pond if they are under water in one of their dives. The distance to the bird was pretty far, but since this was a life bird for both of us, we took photos anyway for documentation purposes. Of the 3 merganser species in North America, this is the species that is hardest to find in Arizona.
Not the best place to try to get photos of birds, but a couple that did cooperate to a certain extent we an American Pipit and an adult Bald Eagle that flew over being harassed by an Osprey. The pipits were abundant and could be heard flying overhead before we finally found them on the ground.
The title of this blog post is 'Desert Meanderings' simply because my most recent birding had been brief visits to some of my most familiar spots and along with some of those hikes, a few photos were taken from time to time of some of the birds that I find in almost every trip. Since I never get tired of looking at birds, why not take more photos?
First off, Javalina Trail and Pima Canyon Trail in South Mountain Park. From one of my hikes on Javalina Trail, I found a couple of cooperative Gilder Flickers and my first-of-fall 'Oregon' Dark-eyed Junco.
'Oregon' Dark-eyed Junco
Next from Pima Canyon Wash in South Mountain Park, an Ash-throated Flycatcher, a Northern Mockingbird, and a Rock Wren.
A quick stop at ASU Research Park presented me with a very nice Green Heron and a Ring-necked Duck.
And finally from a short stop at Fountain Hills Lake, a Killdeer and another first-of-fall Lesser Scaup.
Have some interesting birding trip planned in the future, so it should be interesting to see what I might see and photograph.