Saturday, October 29, 2011

Surf Scoter Spotted at Fountain Hills Lake

Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata), female,
at Fountain Hills Lake, October 28th, 2011.
   I really went to Fountain Hills to check on the accessibility of Tommy D.'s recently noted "Fountain Hills Storm Drainage".  The area certainly looks like great lush habitat, thick with mesquite, cottonwood, palo verde, and willow trees, but wheelchair access looked a bit iffy.  Since I was by myself I opted to head to the lake, where I spotted this oddball among the little Ruddy Ducks.  It looks like a female Surf Scoter!  I didn't have my viewing scope with me, so I wasn't able to scan the lake and search for the much more striking and easily identifiable male Scoter.  He might still be out there, so go check it out!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Big Bugs Invade Desert Botanical Garden!

Giant Praying Mantis looms over the Garden

This Northern Mockingbird appears unfazed by the Big Bug Invasion.

Giant Ant takes over a nearby hill!

A few Black-throated Gray Warblers made an appearance at
 the Monday Morning Bird Walk this week at DBG!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Agua Caliente

Bell's Vireo chick in baseball-size nest, May 2011.
   Agua Caliente - or - "hot water" is what one of the previous owners was certainly in when he tried to cash in and enlarge the existing hot spring and a nearby cold spring by dynamiting them to smithereens - ending up with one big useless hole of tepid water.  With the hot springs no longer viable as a tourist attraction, the ranch property ended up changing hands several times.  It has served various functions over the years - resort and spa, cattle ranch, orchard, and farm, so there is now an odd assortment of trees and habitats throughout the park - a palm tree mecca, old fruit trees, desert scrub, wetlands, and an old mesquite bosque.  The varied habitats attract an assortment of birds making it a great place to go birding in Tucson.

The whole park is fairly wheelchair accessible, including a paved entry drive, parking lot and sand topped paved trails.  I was even able to go through most of the beautifully restored historic Ranch House.  The Tucson Audubon Society has its gift shop inside the park's Ranch House, and an art gallery featuring different artists each month.  When I was there back in May they had a wonderful collection of rustic wire bird nests with gorgeous turquoise ceramic eggs, creations of Tucson artist Phil Lichtenhan . The array of wire nests were a marvel to see.

Phil Lichtenhan's wire nest creations can be found in numerous galleries
 in the southwest, see his website to see current gallery / art show list.

Tucson Audubon Gift Shop at Agua Caliente is located
inside the newly restored historic Ranch House.

Thursday morning bird walk at Agua Caliente.

Wake Up with the Birds- Thursday Morning Birdwalks - Desert meets water at this unique crossroads for migratory and resident birds. Spot wetland birds, hummingbirds, songbirds and raptors nestled among the mesquites and palm trees. Binoculars are available for use or bring your own. Every Thursday, 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. in October, (times vary by season, check website for exact time) Pima County Agua Caliente Park, 12325 E. Roger Road, Cost: free, all ages welcome. For more information contact: 520-615-7855 or . Reservations not required.
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