Finally, the heat has arrived in the Phoenix metro area with temps finally reaching the low triple digits. Birding takes on a new persona when this time of year rolls around, usually resulting in trips to higher elevations. I decided to take on a simple trip this past Saturday with a visit to Boyce Thompson Arboretum. I had not been there for some time and I did not want to travel far. I have a major trip planned in July of this year and in preparation for that trip, I am sticking close to home on the weekends for the time being.
When I visit BTA, I usually like to get there a bit early to check out the Picketpost trailhead about a mile west of the BTA entrance. When I first started visiting the trailhead location, I usually was blessed to see Pyrrhuloxia, but after the nearby fire a few years ago, I have not been able to find them again at this location. Once again, I dipped on this species, but then I only spent about 45 minutes there and did not cover much area. I think a longer visit and covering more habitat might result in better chances in the future. Even though I only spent about 45 minutes there, I really enjoyed the stay. Included with the 15 species I found was singing Lucy's Warblers and Bell's Vireos. Even discovered a recently fledged Bell's Vireo being fed by one of its parents.
Bell's Vireo - Fledgling
And of course there were plenty of the debonair Black-throated Sparrows singing and serenading me with their songs.
For a very brief moment an odd-plumaged Summer Tanager paid a very short visit. Not necessarily odd except for the time of the year. Normally, I would expect to see a male in this first year plumage very early in the spring. It flew in and gave me a good enough look but by the time I lifted the camera it was looking the other way and promptly departed the scene.
From here I headed to Boyce Thompson Arboretum. This place is really a special place and anyone living in the east valley of the Phoenix metro area should visit this place several times a year. For me it is only about a 45 minute drive and the road is excellent. A pair of Bronzed Cowbirds greeted me at the entrance; not a bird that I get to photograph very often.
This is one place that a person can always find Yellow-breasted Chats in the summer. Not always easy to see and photograph, but there is no way a person can miss their very vocal calls.
Probably one of the most pleasant surprises was the Scott's Oriole. I do not recall seeing one at this location in the past, but that is very irrelevant as these are some stunning birds and being able to get photos of one is also a nice thing to have happen.
A couple regulars were very obliging for photos. While the Gambel's Quail is a very common bird in many habitats, most generally they are quite skittish and usually take off at the sight of a human, this male held its ground and posed quite nicely for me.
The local Black Phoebe was kind enough to pose as well. The odd thing about this one was that it was not hanging around Ayers Lake, but instead was gleaning insects on the edge of the eucalyptus grove.
Other photos of interest but not necessarily avian related are included below. I am glad I made the decision to visit this spot once again. Might not have had any rarities on this visit, but this location definitely has had its share of rarities in the past and you never know when another one will stop by to visit. This place is a great place to visit for the combination of birds, reptiles, butterflies, and the huge collection and variety of plants.
An Agave flower stalk
Another angle of Picketpost Mountain