This hobby of birding is not always what it seems. Once a person gets addicted to birding and listing, then every week and every day, one is always thinking what should I chase on my next day off? Currently for me, that is pretty much weekends only, but if everything falls into place, next year at this time I will be able to head out any day I feel like it. So it was, when the fourth weekend in January rolled around. I wanted to add some of the rarer birds being reported to my Arizona list and my Maricopa County list for the new year. So I headed for Lake Pleasant to see if I could locate some of the rarer birds being seen at that location. What I did not plan on, was the wind. It was brisk, and cold coming in off the water of the lake. White caps in the water were not conducive to finding birds as they were most likely hiding in some sheltered coves on the opposite side. Next time I decide to go to this place, I am going to check on the weather first.
Since I was that far north, I figured I might as well hit a couple of other spots on the way home where I might have better luck. Next closest spot to Lake Pleasant was Dos Lagos Park in Glendale to locate the continuing Eurasian Wigeon. This is the second year in a row that this bird has wintered in this park and one of the easiest birds to add to one's list for the year at this location. But from where I live it is quite a drive just for this one species, so being in the neighborhood gave it more credence.
Next stop on the list? Tempe Town Lake to add the Brown Pelican to my list. This spot has been a consistent place for a small population of these birds to reside. Most generally it consists of juveniles, but this time I found one in adult plumage. Even though it was not easy to get close enough for killer photos, it was fun to watch it glide in from the west with a flock of cormorants and see the noticeable size difference between these two species. Here is the Brown Pelican with its entourage of cormorants.
Brown Pelican & Cormorants
Final destination for the day was the Gilbert Water Ranch. Arriving late in the morning, took a little excitement out of the hunt as this place is so popular with joggers, dog-walkers, human strollers, and of course families with kids! Oh yes, there is also always a plethora of photographers taking photos of some of the great birds that are there and are usually easier to photograph here than at most locations. On this day, one could say that I must have joined ranks with the photographers because I started photographing ducks. A drake Green-winged Teal and a drake Northern Pintail are always nice; the teal with its blaze green on the head and the pintail showing off its elegance and it is quite easy to see how it got the name pintail.
Then I visited the fishing pond that has quite a flotilla of Ring-necked Ducks. Most non-birders do not understand why they are called ring-necked instead of ring-billed ducks. And to be quite honest it would seem that ring-billed is more apropos with that ring around the bill. However, they do have a ring around the neck which is most generally not visible, but on this day, the drakes were stretching their necks and the rufous/cinnamon colored ring around the neck was visible. Always nice to get photos of this duck with the visible rings.
And as an added bonus, I wanted to add a photo of a Yellow-rumped Warbler just to let everyone know that I was checking out other birds, not just ducks. This the Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler subspecies, and this photo leaves no doubt on how it got its name with that bright yellow patch on its rump.
Although my original goal was a bust in the beginning, it ended up still being a good day of birding.
And if one is interested in mammals, this location has an abundant population of Cotton Rats. They were great food for the Coyotes when they were there and are still a draw for several raptors that tend to visit this location.