Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Black-throated Sparrows and Verdins

From the title I imagine you can tell I'm not in Minnesota. We had a chance to make a quick getaway to Phoenix for a few days. This morning I wanted to show the kids the desert so we headed up Highway 87 into the Tonto National Forest. Forest only in name because it is cactus and scrub brush everywhere. I was a bit perturbed to see that every place that had a developed recreational area required a pass to use it. If your vehicle didn't have a pass you could be ticketed. Now I have no problem paying to use facilities in order for those areas to be maintained BUT there was nowhere to buy a pass. You had to drive back into town (11 or so miles) and find a vendor. Talk about not happy! Eventually we pulled over at a trail head that didn't require a pass and hiked around for a bit.

The kids quickly found out that in the desert everything either is sharp or it's poisonous. Some of the cactus are in bloom and saw some fun birds. The highlight though was stumbling upon (literally) a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. Being from Minnesota the first thing the kids did when I told them was to come running and tried to get close for a picture. Did dad let them? Of course not, they would have been in the way of ME getting close for a better picture. Luckily the little fellow was more interested in slithering away from us to find some shade.

Other good birds so far include lots of Turkey Vultures, Great-tailed Grackles, and Jamie saw a Gambel's Quail as we were driving along. Lots of Lark Buntings along the road but no Road Runner yet. That's the one I promised the kids they'd see.

Not sure where we're headed tomorrow but I'm hoping for more good sightings everywhere.


Amy said...

Good luck on the Road Runner - be sure to post photos!

Kirk Mona said...

I was just down in Phoenix. Be sure to check out the Gilbert Riparian Preserve. It is a really short drive from Phoenix. Last month in about an hour and a half I saw 41 species of birds:
Peach-faced Lovebirds
Anna's Hummingbirds,
Pied-billed grebe,
Neotropic Cormorant,
Double-crested Cormorant,
Long-billed dowitcher,
American Avocet,
Black-necked stilt,
Great Egret,
Snowy Egret,
Great Blue Heron,
Black-crowned night heron,
Northern Mockingbird
Green Heron,
Canada Goose,
Northern Pintail,
Green-winged Teal,
Cinnamon Teal,
Northern Shoveler,
Lesser Scaup,
Ruddy Duck,
American Coot,
Least Sandpiper,
Mourning Dove,
Black Phoebe,
Curve-billed Thrasher,
European starling,
Yellow-rumped (Audubon) warbler, Abert's Towhee,
Song Sparrow,
White-crowned Sparrow,
Red-winged Blackbird,
Great-tailed Grackle,
House Finch and
House Sparrows.