Since finishing my 'Maricopa Big Year' in December, I have thought long and hard about the direction I was heading to continue my birding adventures. I have definitely decided, no more big years for me. It feels too much like a job and since I am now retired, a job is not what I want to begin again. I want to enjoy the birds and revel in the beauty and behavior and learn more about them. Along with that process, I have also started to admire and extend my interest into many more aspects of nature. So expect to see a more diverse listing of other critters on this blog in the future. One thing I have come to realize is the fact that many birding adventures are not the most physical and are lacking in exercise. Granted, there are some chases that do require some good physical exertion such as a couple of trips to Slate Creek Divide last year. But many hunts are more vehicle driving and then leisurely walking to easy spots.
The past few weeks, I have been pushing myself to get some good physical exercise and much of it has been done on some hiking trails in South Mountain Park. First and foremost, it is for the health aspect for me, but secondly, it will allow me to take trips out of state to chase some birds that cannot be found in Arizona. Currently have a couple of upcoming trips on my slate. Local birding has been fun and I would like to share some of the fun I have had enjoying local birds in the past few weeks. Also know that long winded posts most times go unread, so I try to keep them short and add lots of photos. After all, its the photos that most people enjoy seeing.
A trip to Lost Dutchman State Park got me a nice Bendire's Thrasher and a Northern Mockingbird.
Northern Mockingbird feeding on Mistletoe berries
A visit to the Gilbert Water Ranch is always a great way to capture some great photos and is never a disappointment.
Black-crowned Night Heron
Cinnamon Teal showing some of its colorful wings
A very cooperative Green Heron
An elegant Northern Pintail drake
A handsome drake Redhead taken during the Greater Phoenix Waterbird Count.
A trip out west to the White Tank Mountains Regional Park, was quite enjoyable. Had never visited the place before and was taken in by its beauty and nature. Besides having a lot of Canyon Towhees in the park, I came across something I never expected in a desert canyon; a snail! I have always associated snails to be found in wet damp areas or water, but this one was found on a trail at an elevation of 2200' and no running water or pools of water anywhere close by. Temperature was around 50° F. It had rained about week prior to my visit and some areas of the trail were damp. I was so intrigued that I posted this find on iNaturalist.org and also tried to do a little research on my own. I discovered that there are an estimated 200 species of land snails in Arizona and most of them are fairly unknown and researched due to their limited ranges and hiding until enough rain or moisture brings them out from under rocks. This one does not have a common name, but its scientific name is eremarionta rowelli. Probably only found in the White Tank Mountains west of Phoenix.
From the White Tank Mountains, I headed south to some ag fields near Buckeye where a Trumpeter Swan had been reported. This was definitely not a common bird for Maricopa County, so it was nice to find it and add it to my county list.
And a stop at the White-tailed Kite location not far from the ag fields and I was able to find the pari in one tree.
One last stop that day took me to the Glendale Recharge Ponds to see if the Long-tailed Duck was still there. It was and this time I was there by myself and it really let its personality shine for me.
There were a few other stops during this time as well. I also visited Pima Canyon Wash several times in the past few weeks and have had some really great experiences with some of the local birds. Have enough to do a separate blog post to cover those instances. So you can look forward to another post in the near future.