Sunday, March 28, 2010

Feathered Friends Festival

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

The Feathered Friends Festival at Gilbert Water Ranch had plenty of activities for kids, and adults. The Desert Rivers Audubon was there offering guided bird walks, and had a great selection of guide books for sale. Kids really had it made here - where else on earth could you go hunting for creepy crawly bugs, put paint all over your face, play with pinecones and peanut butter, dig in the dirt looking for dinosaur bones, and pick apart owl poop! Life doesn't get much better than that.

I told myself I wouldn't wander off and explore the many trails, but I couldn't resist - the weather was perfect, sunny, breezy, 75 degrees, and the wildflowers were in full bloom.  Before I knew it I had spent 3 hours wandering the riparian preserve watching hummingbirds, warblers, herons, ducks, shorebirds, flycatchers, and even a Loggerhead Shrike

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Celebrate Hummingbirds

March 13th was the Celebrate Hummingbirds walk at Rio Salado, but it was more like Celebrate Warblers.  The Yellow-rumped Warblers were everywhere!  We were at the Central Ave. location, NE side.  The highlight was seeing a Brown Creeper, and a Black and White Warbler in the willows on the way to the waterfall.

This spot along the Rio Salado is great for people of all levels of disability - you can practicaly bird right in the parking lot.  If you don't want to venture out on the trail, just sit by the observation pond and just wait to see who flies in, or overhead.  You're bound to see Cormorants, Herons and Egrets fly overhead, and a few Coots, Grebes, and a variety of ducks in the pond.   There are plenty of sidewalks, paved trails, shaded areas, and hard-packed dirt trails.  I only encountered one trail (after the Hummingbird Walk was over) that became inaccessible halfway through - a set of artsy hand made pavers jutting 4 inches out of the ground made the trail impassable.

Tom Gaskill led the walk and gave great advice about identifying Hummers - look at COLOR LAST - first look at FORM, SIZE, BEHAVIOR, and HABITAT.   I saw mainly Anna's, but there was one Broad-tailed near the demonstration wetlands.

DOUBLE-CLICK image below to see an ENLARGED version of the slide-show.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tres Rios Nature & Earth Festival

Western Bluebirds made an appearance at the Tres Rios Festival! (held this year at Estrella Mountain Park), and there were Blue Heron Rookeries within view!  Both a first for me!

My plan was to go on the Early Bird walk led by Bob McCormick of the Sonoran Audubon, but on the drive there I got carried away using the cruise control on my new van, and  before I knew it, I was at 303rd Avenue!!  Didn't get there in time for the Early Birds, but thankfully Andre Tarver (from the Sonoran Audubon, and DBG Monday Morning Bird Walks) was there waiting and willing to help me down the "wheelchair accessible" trail of terror (the 4WD Tank Chair would have come in handy here).  Bless her heart, she was bound and determined to get me down that rocky path, and she did.  Once we got down near the river, Andre set up a scope for me to take a gander at the Heron Rookery off in the distance.  But, as is often the case, I just couldn't get quite close enough in the wheelchair to see through a scope. 

My brother and I went on to enjoy the festival, see all the rescued birds on display, go birding in the mesquite bosque area (hopping all over were Western Bluebirds, Yellow-rumped Warblers, a few Black Phoebes) and then try out Estrella Mountain Park's barrier free trail - the Gila Trail.  Its a nice trail, flat hard-packed granite, but not much shade, and not that great for birding. 

On the way home, we stopped at the Tres Rios Hayfield site, which was flooded and the road was closed.  But just a few feet away was a Blue Heron rookery!  You could almost reach out and touch it.

 Here are photos of the festival, the barrier free Gila Trail, and the 91st Ave. Tres Rios Hayfield site...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bird While You Fish

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

If you're an outdoorsman and compulsive multi-tasker, this is the place for you. Just kick back with your binocs, fishing pole, camera, sunscreen and you can bird, fish, snap some great wildlife photos, and get a tan all in one place! Red Mountain Lake has to be the nicest urban lake in Mesa, and the most wheelchair accessible. Just southeast of Brown & Power Roads, you could easily stop here enroute to birding along Bush Highway. Aside from the assortment of birds, this park is also loaded with Rock Squirrels, Round-tailed Squirrels and Cottontail Rabbits. Birds seen included Yellow-rumped Warblers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Aberts Towees, Gambels Quail, American Coots, Pied-billed Grebes, Cormorants, Red Head Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Canada Geese, and Cactus Wren.

Do you have an event, bird walk, meeting, or nature walk that belongs on this calendar? Please send info to

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