Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Birding the 202

It's Monday morning rush hour and your inching along the Red Mountain Freeway at 5 mph.  What's a birder to do?  Start birding!  With caution of course. 

Right away you will see swarms of swallows - Cliff Swallows and maybe Northern Rough-winged  coming out from their mud-nests under the freeway, flitting about catching their buggy breakfast, yum!

In the skies to the north Cormorants can often be seen in flight to their morning dining spot of choice along the Salt River.

Great Egret in reeds along the Salt River. Photo by Peggy Thomas
If you take a quick peek at the river under the 101 - 202 interchange. you'll likely see a Great Egret or two along the reeds in the "accidental wetlands" that have formed here.

As you approach the McClintock bridge, keep a lookout for the American Brown Pelicans flying low right over the freeway, its quite a sight to see!

American Brown Pelicans in flight near the 202 freeway.  Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

As your poking along in the stop-and-go traffic, don't forget to take a look up at the top of the freeway median lights, there's a good chance you'll spot an Osprey dining on his morning catch!

Osprey perched on 202 freeway median lights. Photo by Peggy Thomas.

If traffic is still jammed up after you pass the Scottsdale Road exit, look to your right.  The tree-tops that you see here arise out of the Lo Piano Bosque Habitat.  Depending upon the time of year, who knows what migrants you might see hopping from snag to snag.

Now for your eastbound journey home on the 202 during evening rush hour: Near the Priest exit keep your eye out for the Northern Harrier hunting in the riparian area below the Tempe Town Lake west dam.

Northern Harrier on the lookout for dinner at the wetlands below the Tempe Town Lake west dam.
Photo by Peggy Thomas.
After passing the lighted Mill Avenue bridge spanning the lake, look for the lone dead tree at Papago Stables, it is a favorite perch of the Bald Eagle.  This time of year the adult eagles are a bit weary from feeding their eaglets and are looking for a quick meal, so they wait for the Osprey to catch a fish from Tempe Town Lake, then steal it!

Bald Eagle at Tempe Town Lake.  Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

Once you pass McClintock you might feel as though you are being watched, and you are.  Scores of Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Neotropic Cormorants are often seen catching the last few rays of sun in the tops of cottonwoods and willows of the Tempe Marketplace Marsh.

'Somebody's watchin' you...' Great Egrets at sunset watching traffic whiz by on the 202
from the tree-tops at Tempe Marketplace Marsh. Photo by Peggy Thomas

As you drive home wondering what you'll have for dinner, and you pass over the "accidental wetlands" at the 101 - 202 interchange, take comfort in knowing that below you the Black-crowned Night Herons are coming out looking for their dinner.

Black-crowned Night Herons at dusk in the "accidental wetlands" under the 101 - 202 interchange.
Photo by Peggy Thomas

NOTE : None of these photos were taken while driving.  I am NOT an advocate of birding while you drive.  I'm suggesting what you might see while stuck in traffic during rush hour on the 202 Red Mountain Freeway.  Always keep your eyes on the road when your vehicle is in motion.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photos courtesy of me! 
(With the cooperation of a few butterflies at
Desert Botanical Garden's  Butterfly Pavilion.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tres Rios Rocks!

450 acre wetland at the confluence of the Salt, Gila, and Agua Fria Rivers.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds were in the thousands!

Huge Neotropic Cormorant rookery!

"More Birding" with Cynthia Donald Field Trip (one of DBG's wonderful birding classes).

Lincoln's Sparrow posing on reeds in one of the ponds at Tres Rios.

 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling Duck coming in for a visit with the Great Egret.

Great Egret surmising the incoming flocks of White-faced Ibis.

Three to four hundred White-faced Ibis' flew in for a dunk and a drink!

I still have yet to see the 'white face' of the White-faced Ibis.

Nesting is in full swing at the Great Blue Heron rookery.

Returning to the nest.

What the heck?  Where did these jokers come from? 
Fishing in the treatment ponds at Tres Rios?  Sure hope
they're not going to eat what they caught.

This was a rare view of the Tres Rios Flow Regulating Wetlands which is closed to the public.  Just to the south of this fenced-in area lies the Tres Rios Overbanks Wetlands which is open to birders who have obtained a permit. 

To obtain a permit to bird in the Tres Rios Overbanks Wetlands, contact :

Debbi Radford
Tres Rios Project Coordinator
200 West Washington St., 9th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Fax 602-495-5843

For more extensive details about birding the Overbanks Wetlands at Tres Rios, see Tommy Debardeleben's excellent coverage of the area at his awesome site "Birder From Maricopa".

The recent Tres Rios Festival was held at the nearby Base and Meridian Wildlife Area.  For details about birding this area (which so far is not too wheelchair friendly :-(  ), see Tommy's review HERE.

The old Hayfield Site at Tres Rios is closed permanently.

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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