Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mesa's Electric Park

Dreamland Villa Desert Nature Walk (a.k.a. Mesa Electric Park) is a nice little hidden gem in Mesa, running along the tall electrical towers between Higley and 64th st., north of University Drive.  The well maintained smooth trail winds through a 2 mile stretch of desert lush with old-growth saguaros, ocotillo, prickly pear, palo verde, creosote and mesquite.  Its quite wheelchair friendly and there are shady spots along the path with rustic benches to rest on, and a few cute home-made bird feeding stations here and there. 

The entire park is smack-dab in the middle of the Dreamland Villa subdivision of 1960s patio homes.  The homes directly next to the park have their back yards open to the desert park, so if you decide to bird here, please be respectful of the homeowners and enjoy the park quietly, staying on the trail.  Parking is available in a small lot by the community pool, on E.Colby st. east of 56th st..

Over the years the surrounding homeowners introduced additional plants to this sonoran desert habitat, as there are a few cacti here that I haven't even seen at Desert Botanical Garden.  There are patches here and there lush with huge aloe plants, or dotted with wildflowers, or filled with agave.  Huge stands of prickly pear are now loaded with hundreds of buds ready to bloom any time now. Everything seems to grow here.
(After checking the HOA rules I found that - All trees, shrubs, cacti, etc., planted on the Nature Walk must be native or common to the southwest and must be able to survive on their own without any care - drought resistant).

A feral flock of Peach-faced Lovebirds has made this place their home and can be heard chattering away up in the palo verdes.  They've also taken over old Gila Woodpecker nests in the huge old saguaros that have been here long before the path, electric towers, or surrounding homes appeared.

This is a great place for an early morning walk or to just sit and observe the wildlife.  You could probably identify quite a few birds by simply sitting in one spot waiting quietly and listening.  There's quite a  bit of nestbuilding going on and a number of nests to be seen from the trail, and critter holes, old and new.
Birds seen included Anna's and Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Verdin, Aberts Towhee, Cactus Wren, White-crowned Sparrow, Inca Dove, Peach-faced Lovebird, Gambel's Quail, Curve-billed Thrasher, and Gila Woodpecker.  I wouldn't be surprised to see an occasional Phainopepla, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal or even a Bullock's Oriole.  Other critters seen were Cottontail Rabbits, Rock Squirrels, Desert Spiny Lizard, and signs of pack-rats, and maybe a coyote.

For a map and more info see the Dreamland Villa website.

To view a slideshow of the trail at Mesa's Electric Park, click on the image below.

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