Friday, October 3, 2014

Birding Hassayampa and Lake Pleasant

On September 24th I took a trip to the US 80 Roadside Rest Stop (near Hassayampa), Hassayampa River Preserve, and Lake Pleasant with birding friend Mr. Tommy Debardeleben ( or Tommy D). We started the morning off  stopping at the US 80 Roadside rest area where we birded for an hour or so before the preseve (which is only about a couple miles away) opened. When we parked and got out of the car we could hear many Orange-crowned Warblers calling from the willows and cottonwoods.
 Other than this Orange-crowned Warbler above, the birds were not very photogenic at all, but we still enjoyed watching them through our binocs. After we were done birding one half of the area we hiked to the other side where we heard a Gray Hawk calling from deep within the riparian forest, we searched hard to find it but the trees were just too thick. While we waited for the hawk to hopefully fly over us we heard another one only in the opposite direction. We then searched for that one when a third bird flew across the river!!! The third bird that flew over the river was an adult with its small size, gray plumage, and black and white striped tail. I was very excited to see this hawk, it was only the second time I have seen one! Here is a photo of the river.
Before we knew it, it was already 7:55am and the preserve opens at 8:00am, we drove over to the preserve, coated our selves with bug spray and started hiking the Hassayampa River Preserve. The only bummer was that due to some recent hurricanes that had come through only two of the five trails were open, the Palm Lake trail and Mesquite Meander. But we made the most of those two trails and birded them HARD!!! One of the first birds we saw after we paid our fee was this adult male Summer Tanger.
We then started out on the Palm Lake trail which held a few migrants including Yellow-rumped, Wilson's Orange-crowned, Lucy's, and Nashville Warblers. Here is a photo of Palm Lake.
 Next we started hiking the Mesquite Meander where we stopped and waited for the birds to come to us. While we sat down and ate some tabasco flavored trail mix Mr. Tommy spied this Lesser Goldfinch on her nest.
                                           Man, there's nothing better than food and birds!
Walking a little farther we ran into a mixed flock that consited of Cassin's and Plumbeous Vireos, Wilson's Yellow-rumped, Nashville, and Orange-crowned Warblers, and a few other migrants. Here's a Nashville Warbler.
After many stops we finished all of the trails at Hassayampa. We then drove over to Lake Pleasant to look for some rarities. Our first stop at Lake Pleasant was on the Yavapai side where we spied an interesting gull.
Somehow, Mr. Tommy with his robo eyes saw some red on the gulls bill through the scope (probably from that tabasco flavored stuff, I heard it gives you powers!) we walked a bit closer to where I could clearly see the red on the bill, and we called it a California Gull (my lifer)!!! I told Mr. Tommy how I had the Sabine's before I got the California and he said that was just plain wrong! After we confirmed the bird we walked closer so I could get  photos of my new lifer.

When the bird flew another gull came which ended up being a Ring-billed Gull.
 The rest of the day was spent scoping birds from about a half mile away on the Maricopa side of Lake Pleasant, the highlights on the Maricopa side would be Sabine's Gull, Horned Grebe, and my first ever winter plumaged Forster's Tern. That will conclude my birding in the Wickenburg, and Lake Pleasant area. Thanks for the AWESOME trip Mr. Tommy !!!



  1. Congrats on the California lifer! And that Summer Tanager is a real stunner. Wow.

  2. Thanks Mr. Josh!!!

    I love SUTA's they are one of the many bright birds we have out here! The CAGU was also awesome, I still don't know how Mr. Tommy saw the red on the bill from where we were parked!

  3. Great post Mr. Caleb and a wonderful recap of our epic birding expedition! I had a great time out there, and I'm still thrilled we found you a life bird that day as well as having a handful of other neat birds. Nice pictures of the birds also.

    1. Thanks Mr. Tommy!!!

      I too am still thrilled about the CAGU, and also the Sabine's Gull and Horned Grebe!