Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Two Birds Are Better Than One

Black-capped Gnatcatcher
On a beautiful and relaxing weekend out, we went searching for 2 new birds to add to the Arizona State list. It was cold and it felt good to be on the trails again for long periods of time.

White-faced Ibis
Our first count happened at Patagonia Lake State Park for the rare(to the US) Green Kingfisher.  It's a pretty bird that happened to be hanging out in a beautiful location. 

The waterways of Patagonia
These past two months close to home have been fun for me because the riparian corridors in Southern Arizona have been really exciting to explore.  And it seems like the birding trend has been for birders to explore these spaces more.  The weather was perfect and the bird finds were fantastic.

Bewick's Wren
Besides all the regulars we get, we had a whopping 10 rare species show up on our count over a 5 hour time period! Yes.  We were on the trails for 5 hours because the weather was SO nice.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker
We also went to help out with the CBC counts down in Patagonia.  I didn't sign up at all because I couldn't commit to the dates.  Originally we were supposed to go up to Mt. Lemmon but a snow storm hit the mountain and made it difficult for us to help that CBC count.  My car is a simple one. She's not rough or rugged like other birder cars.

While we were down there, we were able to relocate the Green Kingfisher and help the crew find some new species to add to their counts.

Hutton's Vireo
The photo of the Green Kingfisher below is a stock photo of the many we have seen down in Mexico. It's a very pretty bird.

As we were finishing up our counts, we saw a gull fly towards us.  Gulls in Arizona are fun because we obviously don't get to see them often in the desert.  But a Pacific Storm had rolled through the area bringing with it a Pacific Loon(expected rarity during this time of year) and a California Gull.

California Gull at sunset
People had said there were Ring-billed Gulls in the area so I had expected to see this more common gull.  Then I saw the red dip on the lower bill and I knew we had a California Gull. Again this bird isn't unexpected, but it does show up as rare.  Patagonia State Park is expensive and the 20 dollar entrance fee is too much.  Unfortunately, this will be our last trip there until that fee comes down.  However, we had an amazing day out finding at least 77 species of birds. Here is our count.

Cackling Goose
As Sunday arrived, I had one more bird I needed for my AZ state list, the Long-tailed Duck. It's a crazy bird for our state.  They do show up from time to time in December.  A couple years ago, one showed up on Christmas Day and then disappeared shortly afterwards.  For those who could break away from the Christmas formalities, it was a gift.

Hammond's Flycatcher
So when this one showed up a week ago, I thought it wouldn't stick around for the weekend.  Then it did.  And that's when I made the decision to go.

Northern Cardinal
However, this location, the Glendale Recharge Ponds, is not so pretty and not really so much fun to explore.  You just show up and look at the basins to count birds that are usually too far out to see without a scope.

When a birder arrives at this location, they are greeted by lots of graffiti. I've been told that some people have had things stolen or worse.  Just recently, a man hung himself from the bridge.  There was an altar to remember him as we parked our car at the "entrance". 

The canals of Glendale Recharge Ponds
I called my friend Gordon on a whim to see what he was doing and he's like....yeah, let's go birding!  That was awesome.  Even though he had seen the bird, he wanted to go out and bird for awhile. Plus, he is a master of kung fu and jujutsu.  So he warded off the bad people as we scoured the ponds for the Long-tailed Duck.  While we were there, we witnessed a lot of poaching along the canal.  Several people were collecting fish illegally.  When we moved to their location, they moved away but not without collecting several buckets of fish.  So here is my advice for this popular birding spot.  If you are visiting, go during the day and with a friend.  Many locals go alone but only because they are familiar with the area. 

Long-tailed Duck
Coming up next week, Las Aventuras hits the road once again to find new birds.  I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season.  Until next week.......


  1. Lovely birds..Best Christmas wishes to you Chris.. :-)))

    1. Happy holidays Ana!!! The same back to you!:)

  2. Enjoy the Holiday Season Chris. Glad to see you are collecting these many birds in a single weekend. Here I can hear the birds but I am having a hard time spotting them, they are too high in the trees for my eyes... so having a camera doesn't help much.

    1. You do the same. I have the same issue most of the time. I can hear them but oh do they like to hide:)

  3. Good to read of your latest birding adventures. Have a wonderful Christmas :)

  4. Hello Chris, great variety of birds. The long-tailed duck is an awesome sighting. Happy Wednesday, enjoy your day! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  5. Hi Chris. Really enjoyed this post, although the Glendal Recharge Ponds sound a bit scarey!

    Best wishes to you and Micheal for a very Happy Christmas, and a healthy and prosperous New Year, filled with awesome birds, and other wildlife - - - - Richard

    1. Richard, you do the same. If you ever come to visit, we'll go to lots of places and find birds. Glendale isn't too bad when you are with other people, but I wouldn't go alone just because it's weird. BUT when they have a rare bird, there's almost always people there scoping out the ponds. Have a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic start to your new year!!!

  6. An interesting post as usual. Merry Christmas.

  7. Great set of pictures!

    Hope you have a great Christmas - Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  8. Drew me to the third picture from the bottom. I wish you a wonderful New Year!

  9. I wrote a comment here and apparently somewhere flew away :(. It's hard, it happens. I am charmed by the third photo from the bottom. I wish you meet all sorts of dreams in 2017!

  10. That's a lot of birds! I'm so glad I didn't try to go to those recharge ponds by myself while I was there. And WHAT is a Long-tailed Duck doing in AZ? That's just crazy! Nice find!


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