Fountain Hills Lake, Maricopa County, Arizona

Wednesday, December 7th

Great Blue Heron that couldn't go on my eBird checklist!

Fountain Hills Lake and Park are located in the center of this built-on-a-hill community with its winding roads and spectacular views.  Marsha Wiles and I were there to see what waterfowl might be visiting the lake today. Temperature in the low 50s and mostly sunny sky provided a perfect day for "civilized" birding. 

Reaching the lake's edge, I immediately spotted HOODED MERGANSERs way out on the water.

One male; two female Hooded Mergansers

Male & female Hooded Merganser came a bit closer when the fountain erupted.

The Fountain spouts up, up, up -- very high in the air each hour on the hour for 15 minutes. Water falling over itself is a beautiful sight. With no photos today, you can google to view it.

This small flock appeared to be EARED GREBES and as they came closer, we could confirm that.

Eared Grebes (above and below)

Two gorgeous male BUFFLEHEAD were swimming around together and came a bit closer. 

Along the edges of the lake we found a few shorebirds.

Greater Yellowlegs

Spotted Sandpiper in basic (winter) plumage [two above photos]


HOODED MERGANSER seemed to be in every cove as well as out on the open lake.

Drake Hooded Merganser
Two female Hooded Mergansers
Out on the lake and on the grass surrounding the lake, I estimated a count of over 500 AMERICAN COOT. Note their webbed feet, red eye and red plate above the white bill at forehead.

Two LESSER SCAUP were foraging out on the water.

Lesser Scaup

Red-winged Blackbird in basic plumage

Red-tailed Hawk Sculpture [Red Mountain's chimney-like peak in right background]
As we passed many retirees out walking the sidewalks, Marsha commented several times about the friendliness of the people. 

European Starling with sweet-potato fry

The starling reminded Marsha that breakfast had been a distant quick event so slowly we wrapped up our birding to visit the very healthy Farmer's Market set up (every Wednesday) beyond the lake.

Veterans, who had gathered to memorialize the momentous Pearl Harbor tragedy that led us into WWII, were about to start their ceremony.

So, after such a fulfilling morning of birding (an amazing 22+ Hooded Mergs on the lake), meeting friendly folks and enjoying abundant art work around the park, we moved on. 
Did they have decently-priced good food in this town?  Yes. Lunch at El Encanto de la Fuente hit the only thing empty - our stomachs.

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