Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sweetwater Wetlands Tucson, AZ

Yesterday(January 17th ) as we were traveling toward Kingman, AZ I was looking for a place to go birding and it was starting to look like our only option was rest areas. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with rest areas sometimes we can walk back behind the rest areas into the trees, if there are any, and find birds. That was the plan to stop at 2 rest areas in Arizona and hopefully pick up some of the birds that we have seen there last year, such as the Say's Phoebe, flycatchers among other birds. I was looking at when I saw another user had posted about his Arizona trip. So I looked through his set of photos and the places he had went and there was a place where we would be going right through in Tucson. I found it a little odd that there was a wetlands in the middle of the desert, then I found out later that it was a sewage treatment area. I've noticed as we have traveled across the country ducks sure like those water treatment areas.

So we decided to go check out Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, AZ and we saw a nice variety of birds there. I was a little excited after viewing the bird list there.I was hoping to see a few that were on the list that would be lifers and we got lucky and saw two birds that stuck out on the list to me, Harris's Hawk and Solitary Sandpiper. We only had an hour and a half to spare so we planned to do "speed birding" as Simon called it. The first bird we saw was a Yellow-rumped Warbler. Very nice looking bird!
Yellow-rumped Warbler
We walked a little further down the pathway and saw a few more Yellow-rumped Warblers and House Sparrows. Then this turtle caught our eye and must be very used to people, because he didn't even bother jumping in the water like most turtles.
After moving on from there we heard something running around on the ground and came to find out it was a Thrasher. I never knew they ran around on the ground like that, but it was interesting trying to get a good picture so we could ID the guy! I'm thinking he's a curved-billed Thrasher not 100% sure yet.
Curve-billed Thrasher

Some kind of Turtle if you know
what kind please let me know!
Next we spotted a nice pond filled with Northern Shovelers and American Coots! I'm always trying to get a good picture of the American Coots feet, again I failed at that goal. But there's always next time.

Harris's Hawk
American Coot
After checking out the pond we went over to another pond only to find more Coots and a single Solitary Sandpiper! Then we look up and what do we see another lifer; Harris's Hawk. WOW!! Two lifers in less than five minutes!

Solitary Sandpiper

Once we got enough pictures of that we caught sight of some House Finches, Verdins, Gambel's Quail, Laddered-back Woodpecker and Brewer's Sparrow. We spent a good amount of time down in some shrubs to get some good pictures. Then we got to another pond full of Northern Shovelers and American Coots again, we were getting a little discouraged about the ducks when we spotted some American Wigeons and Green-winged Teals.
Green-winged Teal

Female American Wigeon 
Gambel's Quai

 We headed for the other side of the pond which had the sun

behind us so the birds weren't dark. Getting better pictures makes for a more enjoyable birding day! That was when we finally got a different sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow. We have been stuck in this sparrow rut only seeing Song, Sage, House, and Black-crowned Sparrows. Those are some beautiful sparrows but I want to see all the sparrows, there's like 35 sparrows and that's a lot of sparrows!!
Lincoln's Sparrow

Northern Shovelers and
Northern Pintails

Northern Shovelers and Green-winged Teals
Cinnamon Tea
As we were heading back to the truck we caught sight of a falcon or maybe a small hawk, as it was flying off but as it took a curve we never saw where it went. We got a total of 5 lifers there and 12 birds for our big year! All and all it was a great spot to bird and plan to go back on our next way through. Happy Birding!!!

Edit: The thrasher has been identified as a Curve-billed Thrasher.

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