Base and Meridian Wildlife Area, Maricopa County, AZ (plus two quick trips)

Saturday, February 27th
Having arrived a bit late, Glenda Jones and I birded our way out along the trail between ponds toward Susan Fishburn far out by the Salt River.

Catching my attention by the first small pond on the left was a distinct sharp kit call that I was trying to identify by finding the bird. Glenda found it first at the very top of a tree across that pond. As I looked up, I saw its very yellow belly just as it decided to take off from its perch and fly toward the bridge. Larger in every way from a Lesser Goldfinch, I suspected its identity. Glenda, a winter visitor from Canada, described the rest of the bird she had observed, just as another birder walked toward us. He had heard a Kingbird on the other side of the trail. Although we had never met, I recognized Louis Hoeniger's name as a consistent birder. I listed our sighting as a Western Kingbird -- a very early sighting for the season for sure...and exciting for us.

At the same pond, I quickly snapped a photo of one of the two Common Gallinule (Moorhen)  moving in and out of the reeds.

Common Gallinule 
The three of us took note of other good waterfowl as we continued walking eastward until we met up with Susan, who shared her earlier sightings with us. We were able to locate three elusive Barn Owls.

Barn Owls in the wild
Barn Owl, later that afternoon out at Lost Dutchman SP at a Liberty Wildlife Educational Presentation
Seeing swallows arrive for the season was another highlight for me. In addition to five Tree Swallows, I saw two Northern Rough-winged and the few first Cliff Swallows that showed up grew to a flock of well over fifty by the time I left, possibly a hundred.

Belted Kingfishers, sparrows and raptors kept us alert in every direction.

The long-legged herons (Great Blue, Green, Black-crowned Night), Great Egret and White-faced Ibis were easier to spot than the Cinnamon Teal floating in thick vegetation. Usually, I see four or five Cinnamon Teal together but today their numbers were in the thirties or higher.

Cinnamon Teal - above and below

Wrapping up at the B&M area around 10:30, we joined Susan in a quick trip to Glendale Ponds. Glenda had yet to explore that area and we were both interested in seeing the Semi-palmated Plover that had dropped in for a visit and has been staying. 

Only two of the six water treatment plant ponds contained water. None of us carried spotting scopes since we had limited time, but Susan found our target bird for us.

Semipalmated Plover in Pond #4  (above and below)

Returning home, then, I continued on out to Lost Dutchman State Park to see an educational presentation by Liberty Wildlife (rehabilitation center) at 2:00 p.m.  With close to one hundred people in attendance under a ramada, the presenters showed off various raptors that have been rehabilitated but would not survive in the wild and have become their educational birds. I showed the Barn Owl above; others included:

Western Screech-Owl

Burrowing Owl 
Barn Owl striking a pose
Great Horned Owl

Another full and fun day of birding.

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