Granite Reef, Coon Bluff, and ARP in December 2015

I went out to the Salt River. This post has some pictures and a description, as well as some pictures from ASU Research Park (ARP).

Visitors to the desert in the Phoenix area are surprised to learn that there is a fairly large perennial river that runs through Phoenix. The Salt River is actually dry through Phoenix, but that’s because it is dammed just north of the city, and the water is distributed into a network of canals that serve the valley. Further up river there is a series of dams to create lakes – Saguaro Lake (Stewart Mountain Dam), Canyon Lake (Mormon Flat Dam), Apache Lake (Horse Mesa Dam), and Roosevelt Lake (Roosevelt Dam). The first dam (Granite Reef Dam) is about a 20 minute drive from our house. There are three recreation areas just north of the dam: Granite Reef RA, Phon D. Sutton RA, and Coon Bluff RA.

On Monday, December 28, I went to Granite Reef RA, and then to Coon Bluff. There were a lot of birds. I’ve taken a lot of Vermilion Flycatcher pictures, but I don’t tire of it. It is a beautiful bird. When the sun hits it, it looks like a red light in the trees. I got 4 different wrens. It’s my first photo of a Marsh Wren. They ‘hide’ in the grass by the marsh, so normally you hear them but don’t see them. The Bald Eagle was a surprise. I was hiking toward the river not prepared for photos, and the eagle appeared in a small window with trees to either side, and reeds below. Though I wasn’t set up, I managed some photos, and included one. The eagle dove into the water for prey – I couldn’t see it but I could hear it splash in the water.

There are wild horses in this area. They have stirred some controversy recently because the Arizona Game and Fish department wanted to remove them from the area for safety reasons (they cross the road). There was public outcry from people who enjoy seeing them and photographing them, and the department has backed off and left them alone (at least for now). I saw them upstream and snapped a photo, but when I got closer they were gone.

Here are the pictures:

I’m also including a few pictures from ASU Research Park (one mile from our house). Mary Ann and I took a walk there on Christmas day.

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