Today, I traveled with a local Audubon group to the flat agricultural land that lies about forty miles west of Phoenix. The wet muddy conditions that existed when I birded there on January 31st were dried up, for the most part, but some roads dried into deep ruts that still deterred our passenger cars from exploring spots along them.
Although it was not overcast with heavy dark clouds today, white clouds filled about 80% of the sky and the air was slightly hazy. Haze has a way of eating its way into photographs by fuzzing lines that should be sharp and clear; I didn't realize the pictures I was taking would be so compromised. The haze appeared to be in the distance, but it was right with us all the time.
Lying out among all the large flat plots of alfalfa and kale and cattle farms are a few farm ponds. Gravel is pushed up into berms around them. We were surprised to find two of the "field" birds on one of the gravel mounds: an American Pipit and a Horned Lark giving us great views. Interestingly, a half dozen American Coots were out of the pond foraging in the gravel beside the road.
|American Pipit and Horned Lark|
|Adult Harlan's light morph Red-tailed Hawk|
|Adult breeding Eastern (Lilian's) Meadowlark|
Several of us had never visited the Gillespie Dam area nearby so we finished up our day of birding there. The concrete gravity dam on the Gila River was built by a local rancher for irrigation purposes in the early 1920s. About six years later, the Highway Department constructed a steel-truss bridge over the river which is still in use and is how we crossed the Gila River.
|Theona, Lois, Veronica, Claudia and Babs|
The Dam is on the National Historic Register
We counted a total of sixty Sandhill Cranes foraging at the rear of some of the agricultural fields, with the adult cranes standing tall showing their red caps and rear "bustle". This is not a destination location to see Sandhills, but there they were!
As we returned eastward on Fremont Road, we had stopped to scan some fields and mesquite trees when several very large flocks of White-fronted Ibis flew over. With several of us counting the three separate flocks, we arrived at the grand number of 158 birds!!
Five Burrowing Owls were spotted along canals as we traveled the farm roadways, adding to my delight for yet another good day in the field.
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S21876565
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S21877500
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