Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Start of a Long, Hot Summer

Blog posts have been a little sparse recently for me, but there is a reasoning behind all of this.  With a major epic out-of-country birding trip planned in the month of July, I have been focusing on more local birding rather than many 2 to 3 day trips around the state of Arizona as I had done last year.  But at the same time, I just cannot stay home and ignore all those marvelous avian creatures we have in the great state of Arizona.  It is becoming hard for me to find too many more life birds in Arizona, but there are still a few on my wish list and with luck I will be able to pursue those goals in 2016 and beyond.  But rather than staying at home while planning this epic trip in July, I like to return to visit some of my favorite haunts in Maricopa County and the surrounding area.  So with that in mind, I made a couple of trips on consecutive weekends and both ended up being the same destination, although the first was meant to be a little bit different.  

On Saturday June 6th, another birding acquaintance, Rob Bowker, and I planned to make a trip to Slate Creek Divide and we gave it the good old All-American try, but due to some really freakish weather, we were not able to make it up the road.  Seems Mother Nature decided to bless many areas of the state with rainfall in June.  June is traditionally one of the driest months of the year in AZ, but this year we have been blessed with rainfall in most areas of the state.  Since we were not able to access the muddy road to Slate Creek Divide, we opted to go across the highway to Mt Ord and see how the roads were and what we could find.  

It was still cloudy from the rain the day and night before, but the road was fine to navigate and we ended up enjoying the hiking in and around the 1688 trail.  While I have had Acorn Woodpeckers near this area in the past, they have always been a bit distant, but on this trip at least one of them perched within a decent distance to allow a photograph.  It is a bird I have photographed many times in many other locations in the state, but I believe this is my first photo of one in Maricopa County.

Acorn Woodpecker

At one point as we were bushwhacking through some of the pines, I heard a squawking noise fairly close by and low to the ground and it did not take long to discover the source of the noise; a newly fledged chick, but a bird at that age can be difficult to identify at first glance.  This is a case though of having patience, because a youngster making that much racket will most likely have a parent nearby fetching morsels of food for them and they will return.  Sure enough, in less than a minute, one of the parents dropped in with some food and it became clear this youngster was a Plumbeous Vireo fledgling.  And here is a sequence of photos of this youngster and his parent.

Plumbeous Vireo - Fledgling

It is always a treat to witness something new like this and obtain a few photos knowing that is a moment in time that only 2 of us witnessed and captured some documentation by our photos.  

As we finally headed back towards the vehicle, rounded a corner on the trail and found this Painted Redstart singing up a storm for us.  Lighting left a little to be desired, but one can never have enough photos of this smartly dressed bird.

Painted Redstart

While we were not able to access our target location, we still had a great time birding at one of my favorite locations in Maricopa County.  

A week later and the summer heat had arrived, but I thought I could maybe get in a couple of hours of birding early on a Saturday morning before the heat kicked in and once again I chose to go to Mt Ord, but this time by myself.  Wanted to do a little more practicing with my new camera and this time around, different species of birds made themselves available to my camera.  There are going to be some challenges for photography on my upcoming adventure in July.

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Spotted Towhee

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Hutton's Vireo

Hepatic Tanager

Hepatic Tanager

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay

And to round out the trip, the agave plants on Mt Ord were sending up their tall flower spikes which really added to the color of the spring day.


  1. Great post, Gordon! You always bring Ord to life well with your photos. What amazing shots of the Painted Redstart, and especially, the Plumbeous Vireos.

    Looking forward to seeing what you get in Mexico too!

  2. You're darn tootin'. It's going to be awesome. Of course, finding all these birds is just as awesome. Ord is a pretty cool place to visit. Still partial to Sunflower as being my favorite Maricopa Hotspot....but Ord would be a close first:)

  3. Nice shots of the PLVI feeding behavior! I need to get up to Ord one of these days.

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