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: http://www.butlersbirdsandthings.blogspot.com/ .

1 comment:

  1. Wow Peggy!
    This is a great post that touches on a lot of the things I've been noticing this year, and it really resonated with me. Your description of the Freestone Park reminds me of some of the city parks on the west and north sides of town too. The community park up in Anthem is very nice, complete with the little train and carousel too, and for some reason that's where the rare Rufous-Backed Robin and Rusty Blackbird have made their home for the winter. Why that Eurasian Wigeon picked the Biltmore Ponds is beyond me. The birding opportunities in and around just the Phoenix area are tremendous, and then there are all of the additional rarities.

    You've got some great photos up here, and I'm definitely going to have to pursue these friendly Canvasbacks at Riverview Park--that's a bird I still need to get a good look at. It's funny how they seem to only be out in the East valley. The only one I've ever seen, in fact, was at the Red Mountain Park in Mesa. All the parks on my side of town are up to their ears in Coots and Ring-Necks!

    You mentioned the Eurasian Wigeon and the Mandarin Duck, as well as the Teal (another one I need to scope out still). Have you been out to see the Lewis's Woodpecker at Encanto Park in central Phoenix? That'd be a good one to pair with a trip to get that Eurasian Wigeon which is about 15 minutes east on Encanto.

    I really enjoyed this post; thanks for your hard work. Thanks you also for the very kind reference. I hope to run into you in the field someday soon.


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