Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Finding a Mini-Oasis in the Desert

One of the beauties of using eBird to report all bird sightings and expeditions is one of their applications called an eBird Patch. This is a spot that you chose on your own where you might frequently do a lot of birding.  I have 3 of them, but the one that I have the most fun with is Pima Canyon Wash in South Mountain Park in Phoenix, Arizona.  It is not a frequently birder by very many people, but since it is fairly easy access from where I live and I definitely need exercise, I use this spot to incorporate birding and exercise.  Of the 108 species seen in this spot, I have seen 93 of them.  I have contributed 85 checklists to eBird for this location and the 2nd place person has contributed only 12.  So I feel like my contributions have been a big plus for avian statistics.  In the process of exploring this area, I have been checking out some of the trails and washes that the hikers and bikers tend to ignore.  The reason?  More birds!!!!

One of these washes contains a couple of seeps where water from an underground aquifer seeps to the surface.  One of them is known by the parks and recreation department as it has been fenced off for many years as a wildlife site.  The second one that I have found is a bit unique and this past weekend I visited this spot once again and found a lush tall grassy area and small pools of water in the wash.  Without any rainfall in over a month, this is extraordinary to find pools of water in a desert habitat.  And of course this small oasis is a big attraction to some birds and other wildlife.  Here are some photos of this spot that I took this last weekend, and it was outstanding to see the lush green grass in all the dry desert habitat around it.  The pools provide drinking and bathing for the birds.This past weekend, this spot was being used by a flock of Chipping Sparrows, but in the past I have also had a Lincoln's Sparrow and a House Wren.  Who knows what else may be found there at other times.

Pools of water in the wash from the seep.

More pools of water from the seep

This view is from upstream looking downstream with the thick mass of branches that had washed down during the monsoon rains.

Lush vegetation behind the branches.

Looking from downstream to upstream and the lush green vegetation.

Another view of the lush vegetation.
This is definitely a spot that needs to be checked out more frequently in the future.

And while we are on Pima Canyon Wash again, I might add a few photos of birds that I have recently seen in the area, starting with a Curve-billed Thrasher and a female Ladderback Woodpecker that were photographed on this trip.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Ladderback Woodpecker

The next photos were all taken on my hike on October 26th, 2014.  Most of these birds are fairly common and are birds that I detect on almost every trip to this area.

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Canyon Towhee

Loggerhead Shrike


The next two birds are not quite as common as the previous 4.  Ruby-crowned Kinglets are by no means a rare bird, but they are only a migrant and a winter visitor to this location and even this location is a bit more of a drier spot with fewer deciduous trees, and not many would spend a great deal of time here.  The Cooper's Hawk is seen frequently, but not always.  Usually they prefer trees with a bit more foliage for hiding.  This one is a juvenile, so maybe it is still exploring because it sure wasn't hidden too well from me.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Cooper's Hawk

Many points to be made about birding the same areas fairly frequently.  Birds are very mobile and have very unique habits and behaviors which result in seeing something different quite frequently.  This spot will continue to be an often visited place for me, after all, there are more birds to be found here in the future!  


1 comment:

  1. Nice discovery Gordon on the mini oasis! That looks promising. And awesome shots of the awesome desert birds too! The Cooper's Hawk is really great!