Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Beauty of Mt Ord

This past Saturday, I was free to go birding by myself and decided that Mt Ord in Maricopa County was a prime spot for FOS (first of the season) migrants.  As I have mentioned in past posts, this is probably my favorite place to go birding in Maricopa County and once again it did not disappoint.
 
I set my sights on the top of the mountain first and headed directly to the top.  I quickly discovered that Blue-gray Gnatcatchers had returned with a vengeance and was probably the most numerous species of bird that I found over the entire mountain.  They were very vocal and singing and at one time I had 5 of them in the same area, out-dueling each other for territory rights. 
 
 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
 
 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
 
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
 
The second most numerous bird was the Bewick's Wren, however they were a bit less photogenic that the gnatcatchers, but I have to include at least one photo of one for comparison with a House Wren that was also located along the way.
 
Bewick's Wren
 
House Wren
 
The irruption of the Cassin's Finch this year was still evident in the upper elevations including this male and female.
 
Cassin's Finch - Male and Female
 
At the top, I had a female Hairy Woodpecker pose long enough in the sunlight for a photo or two.  It is always strange to have this bird show up as a 'rare' bird in eBird when I complete my list.  But eBird has factors built in to prevent rarities being added without some kind of backup and this bird is definitely rare in the rest of the county.  This is the only area in the county where they are regularly seen. 
 
Hairy Woodpecker - Female
 
Violet-green Swallows had also returned which is always nice to see and since I had a nice blue sky background to work with, I attempted to photograph one in flight.  Not easy to do if you are aware of the erratic flight pattern of these birds.  But the photo does help to show how this species got its name with its violet rum patch and green head and back.
 
 Violet-green Swallow
 
Violet-green Swallow
 
The highlight at the top of the mountain was my FOS Painted Redstart.  Such a colorful bird and a regular summer breeder in Arizona and New Mexico.
 
 Painted Redstart
 
Painted Redstart
 
One final bird at the top as I reached my vehicle and was getting ready to head back down the mountain, was the Juniper Titmouse and this one appeared to be feasting on some tree buds.
 
 Juniper Titmouse
 
 Juniper Titmouse
 
I descended back down from the top to the 1688 Trailhead and headed out along this trail that runs along the west side of the Mt Ord but at an elevation that is considerably lower than the summit.  I covers quite the convergence zone of pine forests and the lower scrub oak habitat lower down.  Spotted Towhees and Black-chinned Sparrows were in abundance along this road.  One of the Black-chinned Sparrows gave me probably my best ever photos of this species.  And one can never get enough photos of the vibrant Spotted Towhee.
 
 Black-chinned Sparrow
 
 Black-chinned Sparrow
 
 Black-chinned Sparrow
 
 Spotted Towhee
 
Spotted Towhee
 
Want some scenery photos of this magnificent place?  Then here are some various photos of the surrounding areas.
 
 Mazatzal Mountains to the west with Beeline Hwy in the lower foreground.
 
 Bartlett Lake to the west.
 
 Roosevelt Lake to the south and east.
 
 Four Peaks to the south
 
 Mazatzal Mountains to the west.
 
 Mogollon Rim in the distance on the horizon to the north.
 
 Manzanita flower buds
 
 More Manzanita flower buds
 
 Looking west again, with the bridge and Beeline Hwy to the lower left.  The smaller yellowish road on the closest ridge is the rock and dirt road one has to traverse to get up the mountain.
 
Mazatzal Mountains to the north and west.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  

9 comments:

  1. This post is giving me second thoughts on our last-minute location change, BUT I am excited about our prospects in SE AZ. These birds are incredible, and you captured them so well. That Redstart shot is exactly what I'm looking for!

    I really liked the scenery shots too. They add a lot of perspective for someone who has never been to Mt. Ord.

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    1. Josh, thanks for the comments. With your two biggest targets, I think we can get those and more extras with our plans. You can do Mt Ord in the future. It is nice and I think timing had a lot to do with this great day.

      Looking forward to our 2 day trip!

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  2. Nice crushes Gordon. Mt. Ord is such a gem.

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    1. Laurence,
      Yes, it truly is a great place and sometimes it is better than others. After being warbler deprived all winter, this was a great little visit.

      Thanks!

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  3. Flat out incredible post Gordon! You brought Mt. Ord to life in this post....

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    1. Tommy,
      You know this is all your fault! If it was not for you, I might not yet have visited this remarkable place. Timing can really add to the experience. Might have to camp out up there sometime in the future.

      Thanks for the comments and looking forward to some great birding down south.

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  4. From the base, it doesn't appear to have many trees and yet once at the top, incredible things! Maricopa's best kept secret. Great photos!

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    1. Chris,
      I totally agree. Just driving by it does not look like much, but once you get up into the mountain, you really discover how cool this place really is. Let me know when you are up to visiting it in the future!

      Thanks

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  5. Man you crushed a LOT of birds in this post! Those BGGN photos are outstanding!

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