Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson, Pima County, AZ

Thursday, December 24th:
To celebrate my birthday today, good birding friend, Lois Lorenz invited me to go birding and to enjoy lunch on her. Couldn't turn that down but forecast called for a strong chance of showers in the Phoenix area. Closest place I could find with sunshine was Tucson so we left  the gloomy Phoenix area early in the morning to start birding at Sweetwater at 8 a.m.

Love the name Sweetwater for these Waste Water Treatment ponds. In the summer, the smell isn't exactly sweet but today with temps in the 50-60° range, it seemed like a marshy pond park, complete with gazebo and viewing platforms.

After noting a Song and Lincoln's Sparrow on the SE bank from the pedestrian bridge, I turned and took photos of the Green Heron and some finches drinking on the west side of the inlet.

Green Heron

Two House Finches & One Lesser Goldfinch

Among our other sightings were several small groups of young Pied-billed Grebes.

Three Pied-billed Grebes

Anna's Hummingbird

Cooper's Hawk keeping watch over the ponds and reeds and pathways

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (ruby feathers on top of head lying flat; not visible) Small 4.25: bird always active.
My two best bird sightings were of ones that eluded the camera: Four separate good views of Common Yellowthroat and one of a first-year Northern Parula, a rarity here. Photos below come from the internet.  

Common Yellowthroat

Northern Parula, first year female
Photo above does not do justice to this bird with blue wings, yellow throat and breast highlighted by the sunshine, and greenish-yellow scapulars (shoulders, sort of) and gray back (also showing yellow in the sunlight), white wing bars...a real stunner to watch.  4.5" in size, the Northern Parula is smaller than our House Finch at 5.7". I watched the bird for more than five minutes without having an opportunity for a photograph. It never stopped moving as it foraged for insects in, on or under each leaf of the Cottonwood tree.

Lois and I walked over 2.5 miles in 3.5 hours hearing and seeing 48 species of birds.
Even with quality species that I've mentioned above, the birds, today, were trumped by the  BOBCATS!

A mother bobcat and two young appear acclimated to people. The young ones were curious and walked toward us but Mom was trying to get them to fend for themselves.

When the Bobcats first noticed us

Without cropping the photo, you can see how well they blend into their environment

Curious Bobcat walks in our direction 
Young Bobcat crouched and waiting for something to move.  After about five minutes, what moved was its sibling within the marsh, so this one pounced toward it!  Note the back of its ears.

Adult watches the young from her perch on the viewing platform
Young Bobcat looking toward its parent perhaps wishing for some help in securing a meal

Scientific name for North American Bobcat  is Felis rufous (a bit smaller than the Canada Lynx)

Could not have asked for a better Birthday celebration, Lois, THANK YOU!  [Mint Thai hit the spot afterwards, too.]
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  1. Babs, first I like to say, happy birthday! Bobcats I have been wishing to photograph for a long time. Have you seen them in that particular area before? I will have to call you in the next few days about this subject.
    Good find!!! Gerhard

  2. Yes, the family of bobcats appears to reside at Sweetwater Wetlands.

    Good luck!