Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Birding at the awesome Ashurst Lake

In the Flagstaff area there are many lakes. Mormon Lake (water seasonally) and Lake Mary being the largest of them, are the most visited.   Smaller ones like Marshall Lake, Vail Lake, Ashurst Lake, Indian Lake, Ducksnest Lake, Kinnikinick Lake, Morton Lake, Rajkoo Lake, Long Lake, Soldier Annex Lake, Tremain Lake, and Stoneman Lake. Many of these are waterless. I have only been able to visit three of these smaller lakes,  my favorite of them would hands down be Ashurst Lake. It has the perfect mixed habitat for waterbirds, raptors, and songbirds! On my most recent visit with Mr. Joe Ford and Alexia Grace I was able to get a total of 44 species which was pretty good considering the time we spent there.  Before we even got to where we could see the lake I spotted my target bird, the Mountain Bluebird! On my last trip to this lake I saw a few MOBL's but they kept there distance and didn't allow me to get any awesome photos, but I was hoping that would change today! Once I showed Mr. Ford and Alexia the birds I set out to crush these beautiful photo-shy monsters. As usual right when I saw the birds they would fly to a further perch, but I eventually had a female sit still for at least one photo.
                                                                     Mountain Bluebird
                                                                 Booya year bird 251!!!
I then set out to try to photograph a male but there were only about three males in this flock, I still managed to get a couple of diagnostic photos of one.
                                                                     Mountain Bluebird

We then drove down to the lake, parked at one of the camp sites, and ate our lunch. This is a photo that Alexia took of Ashurst Lake.
 Thanks for letting me use this photo Alexia!
 While we were eating our food, Mr. Ford saw a gull looking bird flying over the lake but once it started towards us and I got my binocs on I found it was a Forster's Tern! This is only the second FOTE I have seen, with my other sighting being earlier in the year at the Glendale Recharge Ponds. The bird flew over the area a few times before landing on a dead tree in the water.
                                                                  Forster's Tern

 There was also an amazing Osprey that caught a fish on the lake.

  This American Crow along with a few others kept a close eye on us just in case we dropped any food.
                                                                      American Crow

Once we were done eating we birded along the shore, and while we were scanning the lake little did we know that a Lewis's Woodpecker was watching us from behind. Unfortunately the bird had the sun behind it.
                                                                   Lewis's Woodpecker

 Booya year bird 252!!!
After birding the lake we started looking for some songbirds. Mr. Ford had Hermit, Yellow and Virginia's Warblers all in one juniper! There were also Black-throated Gray Warblers in the area.
                                                        Black-throated Gray Warbler

                                                                 Virginia's Warbler

We had a nice morning at Ashurst Lake and we still had to bird the Lower Lake Mary spot which stunned all of us with a very high count on a very secretive bird, but that will wait until my next post.


  1. Nice post Caleb; Ashhurst Lake sounds like an awesome place to bird. Any Tern is a good find in Arizona, nice shots of the Forster's Tern and the other birds. Flagstaff is a nice area that I haven't birded enough.

    1. Thanks Mr. Tommy!!! Ashurst Lake is a great spot to find rare waterbirds. I do agree any tern is an awesome tern!

  2. The year birds keep rolling in for you. I would love to see a Black-throated Gray and a Hermit Warbler someday.

    1. Thanks Mr. Josh!!! I am hoping to reach 275 by the end of the year! I am sure you will see the western warblers soon and crush them!