With an opportunity to check out a significant migration corridor north of Phoenix with the Desert Rivers Audubon, I joined with six other birders to explore Page Springs in Yavapai County, 143 miles from home.
The Preserve includes a National Fish Hatchery, an area called Bubbling Ponds and a birding trail along Lower Oak Creek, all of which have public access and have the designation of Important Bird Area. This portion of Oak Creek Canyon is about 15 minutes south of Sedona -- Oak Creek Canyon is usually associated with Sedona -- and provided a very enjoyable day of birding.
Starting on the birding trail a bit south (within walking distance) of the Fish Hatchery, we were happy to spot a Lincoln's Sparrow as soon as we got started at 8:20 a.m.
|Searching the grass for sparrows and juncos|
|Habitat farther along the trail (mesquite & cottonwood)|
I definitely prefer finding birds out in the open, so I continued to scan a distant snag when an oriole flew across by binocular view! It seemed more orange than yellow but of course it didn't stop at the snag; it flew directly into the dense cottonwood. Susan eventually picked it out among the leaves so that we could all get a good view of the Bullock's Oriole. We would see another one join it later on.
|Searching for the Bullock's Oriole in this cottonwood|
A group of about twelve international birders caught up to us on the trail. They had arrived just last night in Phoenix and were on Day #1 of a two-week visit to Arizona. We shared our sightings with them and they hadn't missed a thing that we saw. The birding community is a friendly but focused group! We each continued on our way.
At the Fish Hatchery, we hoped to get a glimpse of the Common Black Hawks that nest there. Could it have been more obliging? It perched on the rail around some of the open ponds.
|Common Black Hawk - above and below|
In the small pond at the Hatchery were a pair of Mallards and four Ring-necked Ducks.
From the Hatchery, we drove a short distance to the Bubbling Ponds area where we birded the trail along Oak Creek. Through the trees, we noted five (5) Common Mergansers, but none photographed well through the dense foliage on the bank below us.
One of my favorite sightings along this Bubbling Ponds trail were the numerous Cedar Waxwings feasting on berries. We had already enjoyed seeing a small flock of nine (9) of them; now the flock was doubled as they flitted from one berry-laden tree to the next.
|Cedar Waxwing above and below|
|Section of Bubbling Pond trail through Mesquite Bosque|
Finishing up with birding just before noontime, several of us stopped at Up The Creek Grill (very close to Bubbling Ponds) for a bite to eat. It's location adjacent to and right above Oak Creek proved "birdy" Sitting by the window, watching Anna's and Black-chinned Hummingbirds come and go to the feeders outside, and catching sight of a Belted Kingfisher and lots of Red-winged Blackbirds to add to our list was almost as good as the food!
The Scottish birders, when finished their lunch there, came our direction in the restaurant because of the hummingbird feeders. We smiled when they exclaimed about an American Robin at water's edge and inched forward to get closer views and take photographs! Delightful!
Another long and rewarding day of birding in Arizona!
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View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S22830743