Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Exploring the Prescott area

Prescott is a very nice area to bird. It has lots of habitats and with many habitats come many birds! Prescott is located in northern Yavapai, a county that I only have 93 species in (as of now), so I made a few calls and wrote a few emails and after a few replies made a trip on October 23rd to the Prescott area with Mr. Joe Ford, Mr. Paul Doucett, Ms. Haylie Hewitt, and my brother David. We visited Watson Lake, Granite Basin Lake, and Willow Lake. I had two target birds and they were Wood Duck and Cassin's Finch, I have seen WODU's a few times but I can never get tired of that bird, and anyways I don't have WODU on my year list yet. When we parked the car I could see that there was some nice riparian habitat that went into the lake. Here are a couple photos of Watson Lake and the surrounding habitat.

We were only the 2nd car in the parking lot when we arrived, but that changed pretty quickly! There were bikers, hikers, and I even ran into Yavapai's eBird reviewer Steven Burk. While we were walking along the main trail I spied this mannequin taking a rest against a building!
Okay now that was a little strange, but it got even stranger when I heard a high pitched whistle that sounded like a hawk but was not loud enough, so I walked to where I heard it and found three Wood Ducks! Here is a photo of a female and male. One out of two booya!
Unfortunatly no one else was able see them, but they did hear them. Right after the WODU's took flight I could hear some fledgeling Pied-billed Grebes begging, so I started hiking towards them and was able to witness an adult PBGR feed a fish to one of its three fledgelings. At first the fish looked to big for the youngling to swallow, but after a few attempts he gulped that sucker down!

It just happened that there was a Neotropic Cormorant right above the grebes.
 I wonder what the cormorant thinks of the grebes???
There was a large variety of birds on and around Watson Lake, birds ranging from sparrows, warblers, and woodpeckers to ducks herons and grebes. Here are a few other birds we saw on the pleasant walk.
                                                                    Bewick's Wren

 We ended Watson Lake with 50 species of bird and quite a few highlights in there as well. Our next stop was Granite Basin Lake, according to eBird this was going to be quite a birdy area and a birdy area it was! I even got a lifer. But you will have to wait to find out.

Once we arrived at the camping area where we ate our lunch I headed out to find some birds. It didn't take long for me to find a beautiful adult Townsend's Solitaire that flycatched right in front of my face, but of course I was not able to photograph the awesome moment, instead here is a distant photo!
After eating lunch we drove down to the lake where we spent quite a bit of time birding the riparian area.
                                                                   Granite Basin Lake

 While we birded the riparian area we had a good amount of species, one of the highlights was a flock of 5 Red-naped Sapsuckers in a single tree! We also had an Acorn Woodpeckers at its stash tree.
After observing the clown like woodpecker at his man-cave I spied my lifer Cassin's Finch on top of a very tall pine!                                    

Right when I saw the bird I snapped a couple of photos then I tried to point the bird out to everyone but failed, only a couple of people saw it but even then they didn't see anything different about the bird. I still wanted to get better looks at one, but I didn't think that was going to happen. As we birded the same trails around again I spied yet another female only this time everyone got great looks!

                                                                      Cassin's Finch!!!
From left to right: Mr. Paul Doucett, my brother David, Mr. Joe Ford, and Ms. Haylie Hewitt

The Cassin's Finch was a life bird for all of us exept for Mr. Ford who saw his only one in Colorado. After Granite Basin Lake we made our last stop of the day to Willow Lake. Once we arrived at the parking lot we spied a Merlin and a pair of Bald Eagles!
 You can barely see in the photos but the eagles are sporting some nice bling-bling on their legs!

I can never get tired of seeing BAEA's they are just so majestic! We then started hiking on the trail going down toward the lake when my brother spied a Greater Roadrunner that ran under a bush, so I walked over to the bush and got a killer face shot of this awesome ground-cuckoo!
While I was down under the bush trying to get a clear photo without sticks in the birds face I heard the distinctive flight call of the Lawrence's Goldfinch, but as I got out of the bush I could not see the bird. We then hiked a bit further to where we could start scoping out the lake. When we stopped I could hear the begging calls of a fledgeling Anna's Hummingbird and when I looked up I was greeted by this sight.

We were surprised to see a Cattle Egret (our first egret of the day) along the shore.

CAEG then flew on to a island and then GREG flew with CAEG and I got a photo of GREG taking CAEG's spot, and in all of that is a GBHE.
 I ended the day with 36 Yavapers (first for Yavapai) which brought my Yavapai list up to 129! Before I end this post here are a couple of photos of Willow Lake.

Thanks Mr. Ford, Mr. Paul, Ms. Haylie, and David for the awesome day of birding!


  1. Nice work on finding a lifer for yourself and others! You are becoming quite the clutch birder on these birding trips. Great trip and fun birds!

    We have a lot of WODU here, but I never, ever get tired of seeing them -- such fantastic-looking ducks!

    1. Thanks Mr. Josh!!! Wood Ducks are awesome! I wish we had more beautiful full plumaged ones out here!