Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Highlands Center

As most of the birds around Phoenix are desert species, I thought it would be interesting to drive up to Prescott to see some forest birds. So last Friday I set off at dawn to drive up to the Highlands Center, where a birdwalk was scheduled for 7:30 a.m.

On the way, I took a 5-minute break at the entrance to the Agua Fria National Monument, where I spotted a pair of Ash-throated Flycatchers.

Prescott is about 5,000 feet above sea level and the Highlands Center is in a beautiful pine forest. Even while standing around on the Center's patio waiting for the walk to start, I saw several birds. A Common Raven and a Lesser Goldfinch flew past before I had time to react but I was luckier with a Dark-eyed Junco. We used to see Juncos all the time in California but that I've only ever seen one in Texas. 

The walk lasted two hours and produced a nice variety of birds, including Violet-green Swallow, Black-headed Grosbeak, American Robin, House Finch, Western Wood-pewee, Bridled Titmouse, Western Bluebird, White-breasted Nuthatch and Hairy Woodpecker. I wasn't able to get photos of any of these but I did get a record shot of a Lucy's Warbler.

A large raptor circled very high above. At the time I thought it might be a dark morph Swainson's Hawk but it turned out to be an immature Bald Eagle.

One of the most interesting sightings for me was a horned lizard. One of the children on the walk caught it and let me take a photo.

I would like to have stayed a little longer in the area so as to look for other resident birds, such as Jays and Chickadees, but I had to leave in order to be back in Glendale for lunchtime. With any luck I'll catch up with Jays and Chickadees in late August, when I'll be spending a day at Estes Park in Colorado. 

Next Blog
On Monday I'll finish up my Arizona blogs with a report on a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. As you'd expect, this is a fantastic place for looking at desert plants but it's also a great place to see birds and lizards. I saw so much on my visit this time that I'll have to split my report into two posts! 


Dave said...

Lol Jeff.... come on get hands on with those lizards!

Jeff said...

Couple of lizard photos in my next blog, Dave!