This week my lovely wife allowed me some time away from baby duties and I took advantage of the chance to get some photography practice in, but I decided that rather than drive the 60 miles to Gilbert I would stay locally in case I needed to return home. So, I headed to Tres Rios – which recently underwent a clean up. I have never had much success at this location – the birds are much more nervous than at Gilbert, probably because there is much less foot traffic. However, I was very impressed at my sightings and although I didn’t return home with a huge number of shots I did manage to see some ‘lifers’ and also capture some images of birds I had seen, but not photographed before.
On Tuesday I headed to Tres Rios and immediately spotted some warblers, which were too quick for me, and a Northern Cardinal, which I spooked by not walking stealthily!
I walked around both ponds, but did not see a great deal else except for some Neotropic Cormorants and Red-winged Blackbirds. This RWBB (female) posed for me for ages with a dragonfly before becoming lost in the reeds.
I always keep an eye out for other animals at this location after seeing some shots of a Bobcat from another photographer. No such luck for me, but I did manage to get this shot of a Mourning Dove who was perched on the boundary fence.
It was fast becoming too hot for me, so I resolved to come back the next day and devise a plan of attack to make the most of the early morning sun. The thoughts of that missed Northern Cardinal were frustrating and I really wanted to catch it next time. I decided that I would return with a birdsong lure, something I had spent some time and money on, but not had the chance to try out. So, armed with an MP3 player (with the Stokes birdsong sound files), a 50 ft cable and an external speaker I returned to Tres Rios.
Flies were everywhere when I arrived, buzzing at my ears and nose and making it very difficult to concentrate. But I set up my speaker, retreated about 20 ft and started to play the song of the Northern Cardinal. The result was almost instantaneous – a male Cardinal flew through the area looking for the intruder. Only my poor positioning and the barrage of flies stopped me getting a good shot. This was the image I did obtain, which will serve for documentation.
This was not the first time seeing a Northern Cardinal, but was a first to capture an image for me. In the same tree I noticed a ‘lifer’ for me, an Olive-sided Flycatcher – which I thought was a scruffy Black Phoebe, until I had a confirmation ID from Birdforum.net and the Arizona/New Mexico Birding Listserv. Not the best image, a rather heavy crop, but a documentation image nonetheless.
And with these shots in the bag I retreated from the fly-infested Tres Rios and headed towards home. As I reached the outskirts of Buckeye I thought I would drive to the south of the town and investigate any raptors that usually sit near the equestrian center. A little bummed that there was no sign of anything I parked and walked into the scrub area to see what, if anything, was around. Here I managed another ‘first image’ of a previously seen bird – a Gambels Quail, which was very cooperative and posed on top of a rubble outcrop for me:
And then, another ‘lifer’ for me – a dash of blue that streaked in front of me and settled into a nearby tree – my first Blue Grosbeak. He was very tame and posed for me for a good 10 minutes. It was a shame that the sun was so harsh and the shadows were fairly heavy, but now I know that he is around I may re-visit and take my birdsong lure with me to get some nicer images.
Two fruitful mornings, that did not necessitate me spending a fortune on petrol (gasoline!).