Sunday, January 22, 2012

Warbler Envy at Rio Salado

I've had warbler envy lately. The definite focus in Arizona is the wintering waterfowl, but now I find myself yearning for those flighty tweety birds too. One can always count on the Orange-Crowned and Yellow-Rumped Warblers in Phoenix in the winter, but to diversify one's sightings beyond there requires some work.

I had stopped off at the Glendale Recharge ponds on Saturday in  the vain hope of seeing a reported pair of American Redstarts. While I did have a nice time looking and conversing with other birders there, we all struck out on the birds themselves.

Next I decided to check out the Rio Salado Audubon center that's in south-central Phoenix. I had visited this center in the summer and seen some Wilson's Warblers, along with some Green-Tailed Towhees, but hadn't been overly impressed. There had been recent reports on the AZ listervs though of Black-and-White Warblers, Myrtle Warblers, a Summer Tanager, and some Redhead Ducks--all new birds for me--at the center now, which was more than enough motivation for me to get outdoors instead of grading papers.

While I did not see any of the above species, I did get some good looks at Common Yellowthroat, Marsh Wrens, Kinglets, and Lincoln's Sparrows. My photographic nemesis the Common Yellowthroat continued to elude my camera. At one point I thought the curse might end, but then a large loud family passed by making as much noise as possible, and all of the birds flushed. Arrgh.

I did see a male Black-Throated Grey Warbler from far away, the first male of the species I've seen, so it was still a pretty good outing, even with the heavy clouds.

Here's the namesake black throat, which is not actually visible on the female.

Like most Warblers, he stuck around for all of 3 seconds, and then took off.

Here is a more aesthetically pleasing shot of the female Black-Throated Grey I saw this summer at the Gilbert Water Ranch. Note the non-black throat.