Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tucson Urban Birding #1

This morning I went to the Reid Park area behind the Hardesty Building in hopes of photographing a reported Northern Waterthrush.  This area borders the golf course and has a pond and some nice mesquites and willows.  It also has a concrete-lined basin where a single Lesser Scaup continues.  Unfortunately, the riparian area now contains a lot of garbage due to the runoff from the five plus inches of rain we've received in the past week.  It was very quiet at first, I didn't hear a single chipping migrant warbler.  Then I ran into Brian and things soon picked up.  Wilson's and Yellow Warblers finally showed up.

Yellow Warbler

Then a flycatcher swooped in snapping at an insect.  The branch it landed on and used for the next 15 minutes was unfortunately in the shade, but the sun eventually reached it.

Western Wood-Pewee

Brian spotted two Nashville Warblers munching fruit from the palms.  Then he heard a Spotted Sandpiper, Green-tailed Towhee, and this Lazuli Bunting:

Lazuli Bunting

Then he spotted a Phainopepla, a bunting, and three Purple Martins passing overhead.  Then a "Western" Flycatcher in a mesquite.  Then this tanager:

Western Tanager

Hold on!  He was identifying everything before I even raised my binoculars!  It turns out he's a leader for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours.  Well, duh!

We heard the Northern Waterthrush call once, but it never showed itself.  Well, I heard it.  But Brian identified it.  A Harris's Hawk quieted down the bird activity when it perched in a willow, out of our view.  30 species in a little over an hour.  Not bad for the center of the city.

On to Silverlake Park... 
This is an under-birded park that I've never birded, but always been curious about.  Right away I spotted a young pair of Vermilion Flycatchers.  Not a bad way to start.



Then I saw this cool butterfly.  I'm not a butterfly guy, but it looks like the painted ladies I've raised in my classroom.

This young Chipping Sparrow was the only other bird here that I got a decent photo of:

The only migrant I detected out of 16 species here was a flyby Western Tanager.  Other cool birds that zoomed through the park were an American Kestrel and a Cooper's Hawk.  This brings my species total for this location to 17, including a Lesser Nighthawk I spotted in May while driving by.  More to come from this park...

My last stop on the way home was Sam Lena Park...
This vulture was circling as I parked:


It was obvious from the dried mud on the sidewalk and many frogs that the water level of the pond/wash to the north had risen drastically during our wet week.  Migrants seen here were a Yellow Warbler and a "Western" Flycatcher.

I found the recharge basins the highest I've ever seen them.  Usually there are two distinct basins.  One smaller one lined with black plastic usually sits above the larger concrete one.  Not today!  This is a photo closest to the smaller basin.  You can see the railing that protects from the steep drop to the larger basin.  It's one big muddy mess now. 

basins with the Catalinas in the background

Two weeks ago there was a Great Egret, a Great Blue Heron, and four Double-crested Cormorants .  Today, nothing.  I can't imagine the fishing is any good now.  The only birds I saw here were some Barn Swallows.

I ended with 38 species total in 3 hours.  I plan to visit other under-birded parks soon to see what I can turn up.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! A Vermilion Flycatcher made its way up to Portland for a day in the spring and caused quite a fuss... Wish I had seen it. Great photos!!