ASU RESEARCH PARK, Tempe, Maricopa County, AZ

Saturday, August 15, 2015
After yesterday’s 117° high, a visiting birding friend, Bari Silver, agreed to head out with me to go look for the Nanday Parakeets at ASU Research Park in Tempe, just west of the 101 on the north side of Warner Road.  

Since my doctor released me from my hard-cast boot on Thursday, I’ve been getting around in a pair of inexpensive running shoes twice my normal size (to accommodate a swollen foot).  Thus,  the Research Park, with its ponds, sidewalks, benches and easy-roadway access.

The South Pond is my favorite and the place I’ve found the Nandays on previous visits. Today, that didn’t happen.  But we had just reached the sidewalk when we spotted two warblers in a mesquite tree: a Wilson’s and a Nashville!  

That good omen for the morning was quickly reinforced when I spied a single Wilson’s Phalarope on the pond. Lighting was terrible, but I managed a photo of the surprising bird.

Wilson's Phalarope
Great-tailed Grackles were making so much noise in the pines and mesquites along the sidewalk, I checked them out to be sure they weren’t mixed in with the Nandays. Nope. No parakeets - just very noisy adult and young GTGR.

Mallards were on the pond with one Canada Goose and a hybrid of some sort with the White-faced Ibis marking around the base of the bill.  

Rarely do I walk past a Green Heron without trying for a photo and today, as it perched on a rock next to some marsh grasses was no exception.

Green Heron

Mostly, we ambled and caught sight of more song birds than waterfowl. As we moved toward the north end of the pond, we checked the palms next to the corporate buildings. 

Suddenly, a Brown Thrasher came into full binocular view! I know this bird from the east coast and quickly checked for its long rufous tail that matched its body color. It perched briefly at the top of the palm, showing its long slightly decurved bill, before going into the thickest part of the palm (where it begins to spread out from the trunk). For ten minutes we hung around that exact spot on the west side of the lake waiting to see that Thrasher again but we never saw it come out. Facing the building, it was in the left-most of three tall palms in front of an entrance to the T systems building with an S-curved entrance sidewalk. [I’m also familiar with the desert Sage Thrasher, a much smaller and lighter colored thrasher with a more distinct facial pattern and somewhat shorter bill.]

When we reached the end of the pavement at the north end, we thought we would sit on the bench under a spreading mesquite. The busy little birds in that tree had us up on our feet with our binoculars in no time.  The Nashville and Wilson’s were both there, but we didn’t count them a second time since we first saw them directly across on the south side of the pond.  Then we  spied a Black-throated Gray and a small drab acrobatic gray warbler that I thought would be a Lucy’s until it swung around on a limb and I spotted its yellow under-tail coverts — a Virginia’s Warbler! Even though I continued catching glimpses of the Virginia’s, I never saw a yellow breast spot so it may have been a young female.  

A couple Verdin were in and out and several Anna’s Hummingbirds also liked the mesquite.

Bird activity was already quieting by 8:45 a.m., but before heading home, we checked the other ponds in the Research Park. We saw no other waterfowl and deemed it too hot to get out and check the trees. We were happy with the phalarope, brown thrasher and the several migrating warblers that had given us such a very good two hours of birding on what was predicted to be another scorcher in the Phoenix area.  

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And for those of you who have inquired about my status from bunion surgery in June, the progression had gone like this:

June 18 - July 9:  Surgery and knee caddy - 21 days

July 9 to August 13:  Graduated to hard-cast boot for 36 days

August 13: Went from hard cast to a running shoe two sizes larger than my normal shoe size to adjust to walking again while my foot is still a bit swollen.  Physical therapy begins next Wednesday and I'll soon be out in the field more frequently.

1 comment:

  1. You had a VERY good day out! A Brown Thrasher is a very good bird as are those warblers in that location. Even more surprising is the VIWA! Wow! How do they stand the heat??!!! I like that place a lot...especially during the winter months. That South Pond has more birds and I'm not sure why but it's a fun place to go. Congrats on the birds and glad you're getting out again.