Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mogollon Rim Area - Part 2

When we decided to head to Woods Canyon Lake, I knew it would be crowded as well as it is usually a more popular destination than Black Canyon Lake.  And it was, they even had to open up extra free parking in one of the maintenance areas where we parked.  As we made our way to the lake, we stopped to enjoy some of the birds in the pine forest.  American Robins were abundant and some of them were this year hatch and it is always interesting to see the different looks of a juvenile bird.

American Robin - juvenile

Hairy Woodpeckers were also quite numerous and busy searching our insects on the trunks of trees.  Why is it, that they always seem to land on a tree and in the shady side of the trunk?

Hairy Woodpecker - Female

At the east end of the lake where the water trickles down the embankment, a group of raucous Steller's Jays put on quite a show,  A couple, including a fledgling, came in for a drink before heading up into the trees.  It was interesting to see the fledgling did not have the white streaks on the head like the adults.  Most likely this takes place on its first molt.

 Steller's Jay - Adult

 Steller's Jay - Recently fledged

Steller's Jay - Adult

Just a few minutes with the jays and then we watched some excitement unfold before our eyes.  The first was an Osprey that came in and dove and captured a fish right in front of several people fishing.  Think the Osprey was having better luck than the fishers!


Osprey with its catch of the day

Shortly after the Osprey had a successful dive, an adult Bald Eagle also came in for a shot at a fish, but unfortunately the eagle was not successful.  The adult pair do have a nest at the lake and hatched 2 chicks in April and both are almost fledged and ready to leave the nest.

 Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle starting its unsuccessful dive

What happened next was a first for me.  With all the the antics of the Osprey and the Bald Eagle taking place, I also caught a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron also flying over the lake.  Normally, when I see a Great Blue Heron, I move on to something else because the heron is a very common bird around water.  For some reason or another, I focused my camera on this one and in a sequence of photos we saw it fly near the surface of the lake and actually plunged while in flight with its beak and came up with a fish and then continued on in flight with its prized catch.  I have seen many of these birds spear and nab an unsuspecting creature while standing motionless in the water, but have never seen one capture a fish while in flight.  Always something new to learn.

 Great Blue Heron - flying across the lake

Focusing on its target

 The plunge and grasp with its beak

 Lifting off again from the surface of the water

Flying away with its prize catch!

That is the end of the birds in this post, so if you, dear reader, are not interested in other critters, you can consider yourself done with this post.  However, if you are still inclined to marvel at some more wonders of nature, then please continue on!

We will start with a couple rodents; squirrels and a chipmunk. (FYI: Chipmunks have stripes on the face and squirrels do not.) 

Cliff Chipmunk - Note the stripes on the face

 Golden-mantled Squirrel - no stripes on face

Pine Squirrel

Next up are a couple of butterflies and a cicada.

 Blue Azure Butterfly

 Queen Alexandra Butterfly


And last but not least, a reptile which is a Terrestrial Garter Snake, the Arizona subspecies.

Terrestrial Garter Snake

Really turned out to be a great afternoon at Woods Canyon Lake with more than just birds, even if the place was swarming with humans enjoying their weekends.


  1. Outstanding photos as usual Mr. Gordon!!! Steller's are always hard to photograph and whenever I get great photo opps I never have my camera! The rime is awesome!

  2. For a relaxing birdy weekend, we sure did well:) Love that snake photo slitherin!