Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Arizona Wildlife Views - Starts Tonight on PBS

Arizona Wildlife Views TV is back on the air! An exciting new season of Arizona Wildlife Views television is coming to PBS! This Emmy award-winning program travels the state bringing you stories of Arizona’s wildlife and great outdoors.
The first episode on Tuesday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m. on KAET-TV (Channel 8 in Phoenix). You’ll meet a family of Harris hawks and the unique urban setting where they make their home, and learn how the mission of Arizona Game and Fish works to conserve and enhance all wildlife in Arizona. 

See upcoming schedule at Arizona Game and Fish WEBSITE.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Swainson's or Hermit Thrush?

Look at what all the wind blew in - a surprise visitor to my backyard bird bath! 

 Is it a Swainson's or Hermit Thrush?

Any ideas?  Send them to me at birdbloglady@gmail.com

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tour of Tres Rios Wetlands

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at Tres Rios Wetlands, May 20th, 2011

Great Blue Herons share a kiss at
the Heron rookery on 91st Ave.

 On Friday, May 20th, I had the privilege of touring the full-scale Tres Rios Wetlands with Ron Elkins, Tres Rios Operations & Maintenance Supervisor.  Ron must surely think I have a quite limited vocabulary, because all I kept saying throughout the tour was "Wow!  Look at THAT!".  Ron sure had plenty to say though, you can tell he's poured his heart and soul into the wetlands project, and knows every inch of the area.  Who better to get a private tour with?! 

The full scale Tres Rios project encompasses about 500 acres of wetlands.  Tres Rios, the confluence of the Salt, Gila and Agua Fria rivers, is green with vegetation and alive with wildlife.  The project spans 91st Avenue to the Agua Fria River.

As we toured the first set of ponds Ron explained the complexities of the wetlands project.  There are several entities that have been and still are involved in its completion.  The list includes the E.P.A.,  The Army Corps of Engineers, City of Phoenix Parks and Rec. Dept., Phoenix Water Services Dept., the cities of Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale, Avondale, the Maricopa County Flood Control District and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  Whew!  To add to the mix, the City of Phoenix recently commissioned environmental artist Adam Kuby to work with an engineering and landscape architect to design an enhanced trail system with interactive art.  So Ron's done quite a juggling act in dealing with all of them and in trying to get part of Tres Rios open to the public.
Killdeer at Tres Rios

The area will hopefully open by next summer and will include viewing platforms, shade structures, pedestrian bridges, bird viewing areas, and trail connections between the wetland’s and the nearby river.  If all goes as planned, the new Tres Rios Wetlands facility could become the premiere birding hotspot in all of Maricopa County and likely be the most wheelchair accessible!

For an overview of the work done at the full scale Tres Rios Wetlands Project and to see an interview with my great tour guide Ron Elkins, see this VIDEO by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  For more information and updates, see the Tres Rios Website.

THANK YOU Debbi Radford for commenting on my blog and arranging the tour, and thank you again Ron Elkins for taking the time out of your busy schedule to give me a most informative tour of Tres Rios - soon to be the crown jewel of the Valley!
Part of the water from the wetlands is released into the Salt River.

Note from Debbi Radford, Tres Rios Project Coordinator:

We are in the design phase for the recreation component and anticipate the site being open by the summer of 2012, but that date is dependent on the rate and amount of federal funding received for the project.
Currently, I am providing birders who wish to bird in the overbank wetlands area with a Parking and Ingress Permit, which was developed in conjunction with the Estrella Mountain Police Precinct. This allows birders to park along 91st Avenue and step over the gate to walk inside without worrying about being ticketed for trespassing.  Special arrangements can be made for handicapped birders, of course. We are counting on the birders keeping the site as clean as we want it to be. Any birder who is interested just needs to call or email me with their postal mailing address to get a permit.
Debbi Radford
Tres Rios Project Coordinator
200 West Washington St., 9th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Fax 602-495-5843

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bye-Bye Kitties of GWR

Maybe the last of the feral cats made their way to the island in "Lost"
Hip-Hip-Hooray!  The feral cat count at Gilbert Water Ranch has finally reached ZERO!  Here's the latest from Mike Evans, Conservation Director at Desert Rivers Audubon Society:
Late this afternoon I spoke with Scott Cleaves, the Park Ranger, @ GWR . In the last two weeks he has only seen one cat in the Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch. He has repeatedly tried to catch it over the last two weeks, and today he was successful. To the best knowledge of GWR and Riparian Preserve staff, there are NO feral cats left at GWR! The most recent survey in mid-March reported only 13 cats left in the preserve. The staff trapped eight of those cats. Coyotes or natural causes are believed to have accounted for the other five. (Coyotes have been photographed this spring with one adult and two kittens in coyote mouths.) Last October's survey had 82 cats and two litters of hidden kittens living in the preserve.
Signs have been installed at the GWR prohibiting the dumping of any type of animal at the facility. An ordinance prohibiting the dumping of animals has been drafted and circulated for comments. It will come before the town council this summer for adoption. Town employees will continue to trap for cats should any more appear at GWR.
If you run into Scott Anderson, Riparian Preserve Executive Director, Education Director Lisa Hermann, Ranger Scott Cleaves, or Naturalist Jennie Rambo during a future visit to GWR, please thank them for their efforts to make the Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch at feral cat-free facility. Thanks goes out as well to the members of Save the Cats Arizona for their cooperation in the removal of the cats.
Thank you to all those on the list serve that contacted Gilbert town staff and elected officials regarding this issue. The hard work of the birding community has been rewarded with a cat-free Important Birding Area here in Gilbert, AZ.

Bonus section written by this blogger's dog "Paco"-

Quiz for Cat Owners:

The above sign means:
  1. No swinging cats by the hind legs allowed at GWR.
  2. No "Kitty n' Me" Thai Chi permitted at GWR.
  3. Cat-Juggling is not allowed, please keep your circus animals at home.
  4. No dumping cats at GWR.
Answer:  TBD

Monday, May 16, 2011

Madera Canyon Bird Walk With Tucson Audubon

Western Tanager at Madera Kubo
On May 10th I made my first venture into the famous Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson.  Tucson Audubon Society had organized a bird walk for handicapped birders and/or those birders who like a more leisurely pace.  Nina Hansen led the birdwalk and did a great job establishing the birding etiquette and protocol - soft voices only, describe where the bird you're seeing is, don't point, stay on the trail, and don't go ahead of the leader.  This gal doesn't mess around!  It was a challenge for most of us not to point. 

Fellow birders on accessible trail at Proctor Road.
Our first stop was the wheelchair accessible paved trail in Lower Madera Canyon at Proctor Road.  Its a 0.8 mile long loop, partly shady with benches along the way.  (There is one other accessible trail just up the road at the Whitehouse Picnic Area, a half mile loop.)  Birds seen at Proctor included  a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, a Cassin's Kingbird, a Hermit Thrush, Wilson's Warbler, several very vocal Bell's Vireo, Townsend's and Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Western Tanager and some Brown-headed Cowbirds. (We didn't go beyond the crossing.)

We stopped briefly at Santa Rita Lodge, there we could kick back and just watch all the action at the many feeders below us.It seemed as if the Black-headed Grosbeaks and Mexican Jays were everywhere!  We also saw several White-throated Swifts flying about, two Lazuli Buntings and some Lesser Goldfinches. 

Madera Kubo Gift Shop
Our final stop as a group was at Madera Kubo where I was so agog at all the beautiful birds and the cute lodge that I committed the cardinal sin of parking right where you're not supposed to!  Eee-gaaaddds!  Somehow the kind lodge owner managed to just look at me and smile, likely hoping I'd realize my mistake. But I was way too busy looking every which-way at all the amazing Tanagers.  So it was Nina who broke the news to me - I immediately moved my van across the street where signs clearly pointed out where to park.  Duhhhh! 

The best viewing area at Madera Kubo is on the porch looking out at the many feeders, but its not wheelchair accessible.  Even so, I still saw a lot of great birds here - a Magnificent, several Black-chinned and several Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Summer, Hepatic and Western Tanagers, more Black-headed Grosbeaks and Mexican Jays, Pine Siskins, Bridled Titmice, and White-breasted Nuthatches.

For more information about Madera Canyon see The Friends of Madera Canyon website.

Click on the image below for a slideshow of Madera Canyon.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Arizona Bald Eagle Nestwatch Eaglet Update

One eaglet looks on as his nest mate falls from the nest!
It was a most un-graceful fledging for this eaglet - she slipped off the edge of the nest, hung on upside down, then lost her hold and tumbled into the water below.  But don't fret, the eaglet eventually made it back to the nest!  See the video by nest watcher Greg Joder on YouTube.  To read the latest eaglet news go to Greg's blog - My Earth - http://gregjoder.wordpress.com/

Also, check out this interesting video showing

All photos and videos are by naturalist and nest watcher Greg Joder.  For more about his adventures as a Bald Eagle Nest Watcher, go to his blog - My Earth, and check out more of his photos at PhotoBucket.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Birding at Mickey-D's

Okay, now I'm busted.  Usually I'm seen munching granola bars, chomping on trail mix, and drinking green tea.  But I must admit that every now and again I get a hankering for a Mocha Frappe' from McDonalds.  So on my way to bird along Bush Highway, my vehicle may on occasion suddenly veer off and go through the drive-thru at the McDonalds on Power Rd. and McKellips.  I guess the Peach-faced Lovebirds like Mickey D's too, because more often than not they're all over the Palo Verde tree right by the drive-thru.  You can't help but hear them when you roll down your window to place an order.  There seems to be a whole flock of them, I've seen up to 20 in one tree!

There is also a very tall sycamore tree across the street that is loaded with birds.  I've seen orioles, lovebirds, warblers, and goldfinches popping in and out of it. 

So add McD's at Power and McKellips to your list of birding pit-stops along the Bush Highway.  Just don't order the Mocha Frappe' - they're highly addictive!
Palo Verde tree full of Peach-faced Lovebirds at McD's.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Saguaro Lake Ranch

Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)
The next time you bird along the Bush Highway, take a pit stop at Saguaro Lake Ranch.  The scenery is great and you can relax on the cool grass under the mesquite trees. You'll have a nice view into the mid-canopy of willows and cottonwoods along the Salt River.  In winter months there are a variety of ducks on the river.  Year round you'll see osprey, heron, egrets and flycatchers.  This April and May the Vermilion Flycatchers put on a good show, perching, swooping and diving around right in front of me.  Bald Eagles nest along the Salt and at Saguaro Lake, so you might see a flyby.

While you're here, check into the horseback riding and kayaking they offer, and the rental of the little pueblos.  It would be nice to be here to bird at sunset and sunrise, and bird by kayak or horseback!  The buildings aren't wheelchair accessible, and the rough cobblestone porch of the lodge makes for a bumpy ride.  But I still like to stop here to see the horses, and feel the cool breeze coming off the river.  The lodge and horseback riding are open October 1st through May 1st, and the kayaking is offered year round.  For Reservations:  Call  (480)984-2194

Saguaro Lake Ranch :   http://www.saguarolakeranch.com/
Horseback riding: http://www.saguarolaketrailrides.com/
Kayaking: You will get wet - Kayak from the top of the Salt River--float below thousand foot cliffs and beside majestic saguaros in the Sonoran Desert. The ranch offers kayaking during the fall, winter, and spring (summer kayaking is offered by the kayaking company). There are two options: (1) Kayak on Saguaro Lake. They provide equipment transportation. (2) Kayak on the Salt River between Phon D Sutton and Granite Reef. They provide equipment and transportation back to your car. Launch Times:  8am - 9am - 10am, reservations required, call 480-984-2194.  E-mail: SaguaroLakeRanch@gmail.com
Click image below to view slideshow:

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

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