Friday, January 25, 2013

Tempe Town Lake Aquatic Bird Survey 2013

Logan and Anita search for ducks at the marsh near Curry and Miller roads,
while I sit with my high powered scope grimacing at the thought of having
single digit species totals.  January 19th, 2013.   Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

We set out on Saturday with high hopes of counting flock after flock of cormorants, egrets, and ducks.  After all, its the Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Census, surely all the birds would want to make their presence known.  Well, they must not have received the memo, because the cormorants and egrets were few and far between, and the ruddy ducks had all but disappeared.  Even the habitat below the west dam was nearly barren, and views from the pedestrian bridge looking out on the lake revealed very little.  Gone were the usual cluster of Ruddy Ducks mixed with Western, Eared, and Pied-billed Grebes.

Brown Pelicans at Tempe Town Lake, making sure they are added to the waterbird census,
January 19th, 2013.   Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

Our hopes for an exciting count were renewed further down the south shoreline, when seven of the lake's Brown Pelican's appeared and flew in formation circling low right over our heads, lifting our spirits tremendously.

At the small marsh at Miller and Curry roads, where we had hoped to venture deep into the reeds and discover who knows what, we encountered a small army of city workers tearing out the invasive tamarisk surrounding the ponds.  Our chances of seeing any shy Cinnamon Teals or Buffelheads were now obliterated.  But we did manage to see a Blue-winged Teal and a few Canvasbacks.

A typically shy Blue-winged Teal popped out from the reeds
at the marsh near Miller and Curry not wanting to
be left out of the waterbird census!
January 19th, 2013.   Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

Tempe Town Lake 2013

Canvasbacks 5
Gadwalls 4
Blue-winged Teal 1
Green-winged Teal 9
Northern Shovelers 9
Ring-necked Ducks 3
Ruddy Ducks 8
Buffleheads 1
Pied-billed Grebes 5
Eared Grebes 19
Western Grebes 4
Neotropic Cormorants 26
Double-crested Cormorants 21
Great Blue Herons 2
Great Egrets 1
Snowy Egrets 4
Green Herons 2
American Coots 25
Killdeer 3
Black-necked Stilts 1
Least Sandpipers 3
Osprey 1
Brown Pelican 7

We had a total of 24 species (24 in 2012) and a total # birds counted 174 (629 in 2012).  So we had the same number of species at the previous year, but much, much fewer numbers for each species.

The Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Census is held each year on the third Saturday of January.  The survey includes ducks, geese, herons, egrets, coots, cormorants and shorebirds and covers all the urban lakes, ponds (including golf course ponds), and canals throughout the greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area.  That's a lot of  area to cover!  Volunteers are always needed, so if you don't get your fill of counting birds for the Christmas Bird Counts, then here's your chance.  To volunteer for next year's waterbird census, contact Troy Corman, Arizona Game and Fish Department at .

Special thanks to Anita, Logan, Ethan, and Jeff for their great help
again with this year's census at Tempe Town Lake! 
Also, many thanks to Don, Joyce and Gay for conducting the census at Tempe Marketplace Marsh. Their census count is listed below.
(now you can see where all the cormorants, coots, and egrets were at!)  

Tempe Marsh 2013

Photo by Jeff Stemshorn, January 19, 2013.

Canada Geese 4
Gadwalls 9
Mallards 3
Green-winged Teal 2
Northern Shovelers 68
Lesser Scaup 1
Ruddy Ducks 7
Buffleheads 1
Common Mergansers 13
Red-breasted Mergansers 2 
Pied-billed Grebes 10
Western Grebes 5
Clark's Grebes 1
Neotropic Cormorants 8
Double-crested Cormorants 126
Great Blue Herons 5
Great Egrets 2
Snowy Egrets 35
Green Herons 2
Black-crowned Night Herons 1
Sora 1
American Coots 74
Killdeer 3
Spotted Sandpipers1
Ring-billed Gull 1
Osprey 2
Belted Kingfisher 2

Total Species : 28 (23 in 2012)

Total individual birds counted : 397 (659 in 2012)

No comments:

Post a Comment

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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...