Birds of Arizona: Glendale Recharge Ponds – Pt. 1

We had heard about the Glendale Recharge Ponds and the variety of birds they attract. As hikers and explorers, we decided we would head out that way to see what birds we could find. We started our jaunt early to have the best chance at seeing the most birds and while we thought it might be a bit tricky to find, the directions were actually quite good (see Part 2 for directions).

Right away we saw the discharge for which the ponds were named.

water being reclaimed

The facility is located west of and in a direct line with the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals football team.

University of Phoenix Stadium

Along the access road leading to the ponds and along the sides of the waterways, there was a variety of farms and stables.

Small farms and ranches abut the ponds

Very quickly we noticed something very, very annoying – – flies. Loads and loads of flies. Perhaps gnats would be more accurate! This might be very good for the birds, but not so pleasant for us.

Gnats were abundant and annoying

Can you see all those light brown specs in the picture above? Those are some of the flies that were flitting around as soon as we left the confines of our car. Let me circle (in red) a couple for you.

Gnats circled for reference
Only five were circled, but there were hundreds upon hundreds!

We traveled for about an hour to get to our destination so we were not be deterred. A move perhaps we would later regret.

Only a few short steps along the pathways we saw what I identified as a Cattle Egret. If you look closely on the neck you can see flies on the bird. Other gnats are also clearly visible on the bird.

Gnats on the Egret

We hadn’t planned on most of the wildlife to be so far away. As we walked, the waterbirds swam to the far side of the large pond to seek safety and therefore escape our gaze. While I had three cameras with me, the only camera that was useful was the Canon SX50 HS with a large zoom lens.

As we walked, most birds fled
Those specks in the distance are numerous waterbirds

A more intrepid pair of birds, Black-necked Stilts, weren’t as quick to run away. They were busy searching the shallow depths for food. These are very interesting birds not only because of their somewhat whimsical black and white coloration…

Black-necked Stilts looking for food

but because of their long legs! Now we know how they got their name!

Long legs of the Black-necked Stilts

Lurking farther down the path and around the bend was an alert and somewhat wary Great Blue Heron.

A wary Great Blue Heron keeping an eye on us

In several locations there were warnings about no fishing! I have since learned that people do fish there even with the signs posted.

No Fishing sign

There were many, many Coots in the ponds, but also in the group were several other water birds. The male Northern Shoveler Duck was quite handsome.

Northern Shoveler Duck among the Coots

A Killdeer looked on with interest probably wondering what we were doing out-and-about with all these bugs in the air.

Watchfull Killdeer

To read the other JBRish posts about our Killdeer visitors:

Birds of Arizona – Killdeer ( Charadrius vociferus )

Killdeer Eggs in Our Yard; Oh My!

Killdeer’s Empty Nest in our Front Yard

For more information about the Killdeer’s rearing process, you can read The Precocious Killdeer.

Unfortunately, wherever people go, there are bound to be traces that they were there. Whether intentional or not, we found a floating flip-flop and this football.

Floating lost football left behind at the ponds

Overall, however, there wasn’t too much debris. We continued to walk a while longer to complete the circuit around the one large pond nearest our car. We were becoming a bit uncomfortable trying to “chase down” the birds with all the bugs buzzing around.

Read Birds of Arizona: Glendale Recharge Ponds – Pt. 2

See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE



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©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018

Birds at the Gilbert Water Ranch – 20150412 – Part 1

I awoke at 3:30am this morning to prepare for my “bird watch” outing at the Gilbert Water Ranch in Gilbert, Arizona. We had to be at the park by 6am and my wife and I were going to car pool with a person we had never met so we needed to be on time. Their home was 22-25 minutes away and they wanted to leave at 5:25. Of course I needed my requisite cup(s) of coffee and I also needed to get my STATUS QUOtes out to my mailing list.

[Self promotion here: If you like quotes, really good quotes, check out my STATUS QUOTes posted daily on this blog. Click here – STATUS QUOTes– to view the entire category.]

In any event, all went smoothly and we met up with our tour guide, Kathe, and proceeded to the Gilbert Water Ranch arriving on schedule. We saw a good number of birds this day. I might also mention that this is a transition time for birds in our area and some are moving out while less are moving in ahead of the long, hot summer days.

As we started our tour, a some birds already on my seen list were spotted. The first new-ish experience for me was a Mourning Dove in the crook of a Saguaro cactus. I have seen many Mourning Doves, but not in the arms of a Saguaro! Most likely this was a nest built by a Curve-billed Thrasher and usurped by the dove.

Mourning Dove in Saguaro Cactus Nest

As we walked along the paths meandering through the reclamation ponds, we came across a white-crowned Sparrow. I am sure I had seen these before, but never noted it so this was a new entry on my list.

white-crowned sparrow

Even though this is the desert, we do have riparian and oasis-type areas that draw water birds. One such resident this day was the Neotropic Cormorant.

Neotropical Cormorant

Walking on the path ahead of us was an Abert’s Towhee.

Disclaimer here: There wasn’t much light early on the walk because it was cloudy. My Superzoom really needs a lot of light to render crisp, clear shots so this may be a bit “fuzzy,” but certainly good enough for my bird-spotting history.

Abert's Towhee

There were several sightings of Great Blue Herons. This particular bird remained perched on a man-made platform for some time so we could get a clear picture.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

When we came to the bird below, there was some discussion whether this was a Lesser Yellowlegs or a Greater Yellowlegs. For those non-birders, this is what we do! After referring to the the Sibley Field Guide and a brief debate, it was decided that based on the size of the bird and markings, it was a Lesser Yellowlegs.

Lesser Yellowlegs

As I might have mentioned in one of my previous posts somewhere on this blog and most certainly on my previous Internet persona, Gardening on the Moon, we live on the edge of the desert and one bird we have in large numbers is the Gambel’s Quail. These birds are round and not exactly aerodynamic and thus they would rather walk or run than fly. Approaching them in a car often causes them to scurry ahead, but when forced, they do take to the air. It is unusual to spot them perched high in a tree as the bird below was spotted posing for its closeup.

TGambel's Quail

The last bird I will present today is a Green Heron. It is an unusual name for a majestic bird that doesn’t actually contain much green anywhere in its plumage! Supposedly under certain conditions, it has a blue-green “gloss.”

Green Heron

We saw a good many other birds this day and I will post our other sightings soon. Until then, I hope you have enjoyed following me along my birding journey.