Granite Reef Recreation Area, May 23, 2015

I went back to GRRA this month. This post has a description and some pictures.

I mentioned in my last post that I’d like to get back to GRRA to see if I could get better pictures of the Bullock’s Oriole and the Black-throated Gray Warbler. So I made another trip on Saturday. I got there about 6:30 am, and spent a few hours. It was a nice day and there were a lot of birds, though not so many decent pictures.

There are several nesting pairs of Bullock’s Orioles. I met a birder, Jim Ripley, who was set up with a chair and a tripod at a Bullock’s nest. I hung out there a while, and came back again after hiking around. Jim stayed put patiently waiting for the Orioles. He got much nicer photos than I did. The pair came back periodically, but good pictures were difficult because they stayed behind branches. The female would slip quietly in and out of the nest. I took a ton of pictures, but still none that are great. I posted one each of the female and the male. I also posted a picture of the nest, which is well hidden and you wouldn’t see it unless you looked very hard. If you look closely in the upper left you can see the tail feather of the female. She goes in the nest head first from the top.

I got a few tips from Jim. One is that he has an accessory called a ‘better beamer’ that attaches to the flash and projects the light further. I need to check into it. He also said that there is a migration of Swainson’s Hawks through Arizona every year in approximately mid April. He went to a spot where Highway 80 crosses the Hassayampa river. He said it was like Pearl Harbor with the hawks diving to catch insects by the water. There were reports of over 700 hawks migrating. He gave a tip of a nice place in Southern Arizona. It’s in Sierra Vista, and it’s called ‘Battiste Bed, Breakfast, and Birds’.

There were a bunch of birds flying above the river, behaving like swallows, but much larger, with a white stripe on the end of their wings. I tried to get a photo, but didn’t succeed because they were a little too far away, and always in flight. When I got home I found out that they are Lesser Nighthawks. Pretty cool. Now I’d like to go back and try harder for a photograph.

One birder there said there were lots of Lucy’s Warblers. She was right, because I could hear them all over. However, I wasn’t able to get a photo.

I took a picture of a ‘red area’ on a Mesquite tree, thinking it would be a throw-away picture. When I got it home I saw it was a group of Giant Mesquite Bug Nymphs. They are in the fourth instar phase of their life-cycle. If this sounds like I know what I’m talking about, I don’t, but here’s a link: http://arizonabeetlesbugsbirdsandmore.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html.

I did some internet searching on the pink ‘thing’ near the water. I think they are eggs for a Channeled Apple Snail. This is an invasive species of snail that can be disruptive to the native environment. Here’s a link: http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/documents/AIS-AppleSnailRisk.pdf. It says that the only way to eliminate the invasive snails is by “hand picking as a community effort on a large, laborious scale”. I guess I should have knocked them off the plants!

Here are the photos:

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