Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tempe Marketplace Marsh Aquatic Bird Survey 2012

Cormorants and Egrets hanging out in the reeds just east of the
east dam at Tempe Town Lake.

One of the perks of doing some of the Urban Aquatic Bird Surveys is gaining temporary access to prime birding areas that are normally off limits.  West valley birder and photographer Jeff Ritz had the enviable opportunity to survey the vast Tres Rios Wetlands area that is not open to the public yet.  His team had 42 species, and 3,699 individual birds!

Don Witter scouting out the area east of Tempe Town Lake.
(Photo by Jeff Stemshorn.)
The opportunity to survey Tempe Marketplace went to three very experienced birders from Desert Botanical Garden's Monday morning bird walks - Don Witter, Joyce Goodman and Gay Christensen.  Their area included the lush riparian area behind Tempe Marketplace and the area between McClintock and the east dam of Tempe Town Lake.  They were hoping to see the Eurasian Green-winged Teal that had been spotted there recently, but he was a no-show.  They did manage though to see a Sora, a Common Moorhen, and the Belted Kingfisher!

Survey Results:
Green Heron at Tempe Marketplace Marsh. 
(Photo by Jeff Stemshorn.)
Canada Goose 5
Gadwall 31
American Wigeon 4
Mallard 14
Northern Shoveler 51
Green-winged Teal 8
Ruddy Duck 62
Pied-billed Grebe 11
Neotropic Cormorant 140
Double-crested Cormorant 129
Great Blue Heron 5
Great Egret 8
Snowy Egret 42
Green Herons 1
Black-crowned Night Heron 1
Sora 1
Common Moorhen 1
American Coot 137
Black-necked Stilt 2
Greater Yellowlegs 1 
Spotted Sandpiper 2
Osprey 2
Belted Kingfisher 1

Total Species: 23   Total Ind.: 659
Area Surveyed - Tempe Marketplace Marsh
 Other areas included in the Phoenix Area Urban Aquatic Bird Survey are the gazillion golf course ponds across the valley, the many urban park ponds and residential ponds, Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Site, Glendale Recharge Ponds, Tres Rios Hayfield Site, the ponds at the Phoenix Zoo and Papago Park, Gilbert Water Ranch, ASU Research Park, and Fountain Hills Lake.  So there are plenty of opportunities for volunteers!  If you are interested in joining next year's survey, contact Troy Corman at Arizona Game and Fish Department - .

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tempe Town Lake Aquatic Bird Survey 2012

Habitat area downstream from the new pedestrian bridge at Tempe Town Lake
Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

Last Saturday I and several great volunteers did the waterbird survey of Tempe Town Lake as part of the Arizona Game and Fish Department's "Phoenix Area Aquatic Bird Survey".

The day started out as bitter-cold, then eased into frigid-cold.  When the sun finally did appear, so did the high school percussion band and hundreds of demonstrators, marching the lake's perimeter!  It was amazing that any birds stayed around to be counted.  But my wonderful volunteers - birders from Desert Botanical Garden's Monday Morning Birdwalks - persisted and covered our entire area over the course of the day.  Our area included the habitat just downstream from the new pedestrian bridge, the entire lake, and the small marsh area near Curry and Miller Roads.  (A second team of birders from DBG surveyed the marsh at Tempe Marketplace - I will be posting their results soon!)

Volunteers Anita, Ethan, and Logan surveying the habitat downstream of the west
 dam at Tempe Town Lake, Jan. 21st, 2012. Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

The exciting bird sightings of the day were the Brown Pelican flying up and down the lake, the lone female Bufflehead at the small marsh north of the lake, and the adult Bald Eagle trying to steal fish from the Osprey!

Bald Eagle at Tempe Town Lake, Jan. 21st, 2012.  Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

We had a total of 24 species! (vs.last years 17)

Brown Pelican at Tempe Town Lake, Jan. 21st, 2012.
Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

Canvasbacks 4
Mallards 21
Northern Shovelers 26
Ring-necked Ducks 12
Ruddy Ducks 151
Buffleheads 1
Pied-billed Grebes 9
Eared Grebes 67
Western Grebes 37
Neotropic Cormorants 102
Double-crested Cormorants 55
Great Blue Herons 2
Great Egrets 14
Snowy Egrets 35
Green Herons 2
American Coots 63
Killdeer 7
Black-necked Stilts 6
Greater Yellowlegs 2
Least Sandpipers 7
Wilson's Snipe 1
Osprey 2
Bald Eagle 1
Brown Pelican 1
Total # birds counted : 629

Thank you Ann, Anita, Logan, Ethan, and Jeff for all of your hard work!  Next year let's rent a boat!!!

To see a slide show of the area surveyed, click on the image below:

This endeavor is part of the statewide Arizona Coordinated Bird Monitoring effort which is promoted by the Arizona Bird Conservation Initiative (ABCI). ABCI is a cooperative partnership of agencies, organizations, and individuals committed to the conservation of all birds and their habitats in Arizona.

If you are interested in volunteering for next year's count, contact Troy Corman at AZ Game and Fish Dept.

Troy Corman
Avian Monitoring Coordinator
Nongame Branch
AZ Game and Fish Department
5000 W. Carefree Hwy.
Phoenix, Arizona 85086

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Today's photos were taken by Jeff Stemshorn, the fastest camera-slinger in the west. 
 Jeff has never met a bird he couldn 't shoot.  Hmmm, well you know what I mean. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Love is in the Air... or in the Trees!

Great Blue Herons mating in the tree tops at
a heron rookery in the southeast valley.

Having a smoke together afterward.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Blog Page - Bird Art in Arizona

Bird Art in Arizona currently features three Arizona artists - Allison Shock, Barbara Rudolph, and Jenny Foster.

Allison Shock (Three Star Owl) is currently at the Nature Expo portion of Wings Over Willcox, held in the Willcox Community Center, which is the headquarters for the festival. The Nature Expo will be open from Thursday afternoon until Sunday, admission to the Nature Expo is FREE!  Click here for map and directions

Barbara Rudolph and Jenny Foster will be at The 22nd Annual Celebration of Fine Art 2012.  "One of the premiere art events in the West" opens on January 14th. The show runs through March 25th, 2012 in a new location.  You will find it on the Southwest corner of Hayden Rd and Loop 101, just off exit 35.  For more information visit: .

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Visit Your Local Pond

Northern Shoveler splashing it up with a Great-tailed Grackle at Freestone Park in Gilbert, January 6, 2012.

  For a quick birding fix try visiting one of the many rural ponds around the valley, you never know what wintering ducks you might see.  I recently 'discovered' Freestone Park in Gilbert.  At first glance you'd think no duck worth his weight in feathers would be seen here, a park with every annoying kid-oriented feature imaginable - a train going around the entire pond, swings, slides, and even carousel rides, ugh!  But the ducks don't seem to care, nor do the egrets, herons and cormorants.  The pond at Freestone Park often has Ring-necked Ducks, American Wigeons, Northern Shovelers, and a few Canvasbacks.

Lesser Scaup pair at Kiwanis Park on January 9th, 2012.

All of the urban ponds are wheelchair friendly, but if you are wheelin' it, be sure to bring something to wipe your wheels down with when you leave.  Otherwise you'll be leaving lovely duck-poop-green tire tracks wherever you go - not very attractive.

Male Canvasback at Riverview Park in Mesa, January 6th, 2012.

Recent urban pond duck sightings around the valley include a Eurasian Wigeon at the Biltmore Golf Course Ponds, a Mandarin Duck (and several Lesser Scaup) at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, a Eurasian Green-winged (Common) Teal in the marsh at Tempe Marketplace, very friendly Canvasbacks at Riverview Park in Mesa, Common Mergansers and American Wigeons at the McCormick Ranch ponds in Scottsdale, and a Goldeneye Pair with several Hooded Mergansers at Fountain Hills Lake.

See some amazing photos of the Mandarin Duck at Kiwanis Park taken by Laurence Butler on his blog: .

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

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