Salt River - Granite Reef Recreation Area, Maricopa County, AZ

Saturday, April 9
Decided to test out my new BOGS (muck boots) while birding Granite Reef this morning. Rain last night, however, did not leave the long grasses very wet but the boots were comfortable while I walked for two hours. Also liked the added sense of security against bees and ants on the ground and snakes in the grass. Now that I know the boots are comfortable, I look forward to using them on an upcoming bird trip when a group of us will try to flush a Yellow Rail from a wet rice field.  (Will let you know how that turns out!)

Today, I really wanted to catch up with the Bullock's Oriole and, hopefully, the Cassin's Vireo that birding friend, Jeanne saw and photographed yesterday.

Arriving at 6:45 a.m. was not early enough for a Saturday morning; fisherman were already in place; a young couple were posing for some serious photographs; and more cars streamed in. That's when I streamed out of the picnic area to the west, through the mesquite trees where the Lucy's and Yellow-rumped Warblers were singing. Birds were in no mood for their photos to be taken today. I worked long and hard for the few special ones I got.

These two were easier:

Canvasback swimming alone, back and forth on the river

Yes, noisy Great-tailed Grackles (Male and partially hidden Female)
I heard the Bullock's Oriole call - a single whistle - several times at rhythmic intervals but could I find that beautiful orangish bird in the trees? By the time I got my lens on a bird, it spotted the reflection and was gone by the time I snapped. Such is the case of this lovely photo of limbs below.

This is a typical view (this morning) of the mature male Bullock's Oriole that I saw well several times with my binoculars.
Male Bullock's Oriole

That, above, was the best of my early attempts (10 minutes) to get the oriole's photo before I walked on through the mesquite toward the west end of the area. Walking along the river, I saw a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret fly upstream to fish from the opposite shore. From that side (Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Land), I also heard a pack of coyotes howling.

Walking along the berm, I got to look down on the grove of trees I had just emerged from
(Phainopepla perched)

Sacred Datura, more commonly known as Jimson Weed; at west end 

Although there were several male Phainopeplas chasing each other all morning, this female perched up nicely.

Female Phainopepla

Within the tamarisk (Salt Cedar) trees at the far west end, I was thrilled to find a Common Yellowthroat hanging out with a Yellow Warbler!

When I returned to the area where I had originally found the male Bullock's Oriole, I decided to get at least one record shot. What I discovered was that there were at least two and maybe three orioles present.

Mature male is more orange than yellow with black throat
 At first, I thought the bird below was a female. (I'm certain I saw one, but did not successfully photograph it.)  But because of its markings, noted below, it was not.

First-year male Bullock's Oriole

Same bird as above, different photo, shows darkish head and black feathers at the throat

Apparent first-year male with some black feathering at its throat and strong black eyeline already established
 (Another photo of same bird above)

Although I dipped on finding the Cassin's Vireo (a really good bird for this location), I heard Sora (rail) at two different locations in the reeds along the river, saw a mature Bald Eagle fly over, and enjoyed listening to several Bewick's Wrens.

Still, a great way to start the day! Must remember that sun rises at 6 a.m.!!  I slept in today.

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