We began our morning at the Hassyampa River Preserve. It was a pretty place and we did have a nice bird count. But it was a random trek out to Sun City to confirm a recent sighting of a Tundra Swan that would make our day fun and exciting. But I'll start off with some pretty Gray Fox and Hassayampa photos to properly get this adventure started.
We entered the realm of Sun City, a huge Arizona retirement community. It's always good to begin your search with the facts. When the facts/data don't match up, it's time to ask questions. "Hi there, we were wondering if you've seen swans on your golf courses? We're here to verify a Tundra Swan recently seen at one of your ponds."
"OH yes! We have swans at several of the ponds. There are some in that direction and over here."
"And you're sure they are not geese? Like the two Snow Geese seen over there?" Oh gods....what if they thought those geese were swans. It wouldn't be the first time. This search reminded me of our Monk Parakeet follow up last year in Casa Grande. What was impressive is that the residents here KNEW their birds and definitely knew the difference between a goose and a swan. That was really cool. But where were they?
"No. No," they continued, "These are definitely swans. Go to the club house and they can give you better directions", replied the happy retired couple. We went to the club house and an elderly man asked me if I could fix the hot tub. I felt like a guy wearing a red shirt in a Target Store. As it turned out, it was the wrong club house. If there were swans, did the residents know the difference between a Mute or Tundra Swan? We'd find out.
|One of several Mute Swans found on the golf course ponds|
|As she heads towards the light, Magill realizes before it's too late that this isn't the right hotspot......for now.|
|A Harris's Hawk perches on top of a resident's home|
As stated before, the hotspot markers were in different areas of the city. The birder reporting this swan certainly had specific and detailed information in their report leading us to believe that the swan was legit. Not many people have searched for this bird because there is question as to whether or not this swan is truly wild AND there has been some inaccurate reporting from this area in the past:) So we hoped for the best and prepared for the worst. But when it comes to birding, is there really a worse case scenario? Well maybe if you were attacked by bears or fall off a cliff......but other than that.......:)
The Tundra Swan has a provenance issue. If you don't know that word, don't worry.....I didn't either:) It basically questions the origin of the bird and whether the swan can be "counted" as a wild bird. After hearing the history of this particular Tundra Swan, I think we'll find out that the bird is indeed countable. Come spring, if the bird flies North, there is no question. If it stays, it's a different story.
|The stunning Hooded Mergansers|
After finding the correct club house, we stopped and asked several of the residents if they had seen the Tundra Swan or knew of any swans on the property. They said they did. And what was even better? They knew what a Tundra Swan was! Then something really spontaneous and fun happened. They took us straight to the bird in their golf carts. Both women were so kind. If you are reading Patti and Sylvia, a big THANK YOU for taking a couple of strange bird people out in your golf carts.
And sure enough. There they were. The Swans.
It's always great investigating areas with Magill. It reminds me of playing detective as a kid except that it's all for a good cause. Plus you get to meet new
The world is an ever changing place and with it, we are finding that the birds are also adapting or struggling to survive against those changes. I've been birding for a short 5 years in Arizona and I have to say that this year has been the craziest with sightings. What will next week hold? Stay tuned for more........