29 December 2007

Gilbert Again

I went back to Gilbert (and the Rio Salado project in Phoenix) today in search of recently reported Northern Parula, Painted Bunting, and Varied Thrush. I didn't find any of them, but was surprised to find about 30 Black-Crowned Night Herons in Gilbert (there are usually 5-7 roosting...30 is really unusual).

The Pyrrhuloxia is a relative of the Northern Cardinal, and Phoenix is about the northern extent of it's range. This was only the third or so time I've seen one.


Yellow Warbler

Black Crowned Night-Herons

Black Crowned Night-Heron in Flight

Northern Pintail

Cooper's Hawk

22 December 2007

Gilbert, AZ

Today I visited the Gilbert Riparian Preserve in Gilbert, AZ (about 15 miles east of Phoenix). The Preserve uses reclaimed wastewater and leverages ponds natural cleansing and recharge capabilities, while simultaneously creating a habitat for birds, butterflies, rabbits, lizards, and other wildlife. In general, the habitat is meant to duplicate different elevations of riparian (that found near water sources) habitat found in Arizona

I've been to the Riparian Preserve approximately 15-20 times since moving here, and have seen about 110 bird species at this one location in the middle of metro Phoenix. On this one trip, 50 species were spotted, including those pictured below. The Peach-Faced Lovebirds are not native to Arizona, but escapees have established breeding populations in several locations around Phoenix.

Anna's Hummingbird:

Great Egret:

Great Blue Heron

Peach-Faced Lovebirds

And here are a few pictures from a trip earlier in the month:
Grey Go-Away Bird The Go-Away Bird is from Africa, and showed up in Gilbert a month or two ago. This bird is rare even in captivity, so it's arrival in Arizona has been a source of mystery.

Great Egrets (and perhaps a Snowy Egret or two A large flock of Egrets was located on one of the ponds. There were a few Snowy Egrets too, but I'm not sure if any were in the field of view of this picture, and I haven't taken the time to analyze.

Gila Woodpecker

White-Crowned Sparrow One of the most common winter birds in Riparian habitat in Arizona.

Curve-Billed Thrasher Despite it's looks, it has one of the most musical songs of local birds.

14 September 2007

Madera Canyon, AZ

Madera Canyon is located about 30 minutes south of Tucson, Arizona. Southeast Arizona is known for it's habitat diversity, largely due to the small mountain ranges that create "sky islands" in the desert. Madera Canyon is part of one such sky island in the Santa Rita Mountains.

As an example, Green Valley, a large town just outside Madera Canyon, is at an elevation of 2900', and has a typical AZ summer climate (average highs in the low 100's). Madera Canyon starts around 3500', and goes up to about 6000' before turning into a mountain side, and rising to 9500' at the peak of Mt Wrightson. Within this area, landscape starts arid with Saguaros and other desert plants. It slowly turns into more dense 'scrub', then Junipers and Oak, then pines, firs, and spruce. All of this habitat means that in a matter of a few miles of each other live lizards, snakes, mountain lions, deer, bear, tropical birds, and northern/temperate birds.

Below are a few of the animals and insects seen on a September trip to Madera.

Black Bear

Yarrow's Spiny Lizard

Orange Sulphur Butterfly

Horse Lubber Grasshopper - This was Giant!

Elegant Trogon

California Sister Butterfly

And here are a few other photos from my May trip to Madera Canyon.

Elegant Trogon

Painted Redstart

Brown Crested Flycatcher

Black-Headed Grosbeak

Magnificent Hummingbird

Flame-Colored Tanager