Tres Rios Wetlands and Lake Pleasant. 21 and 22 Nov 2020.

On Saturday, November 21, I birded Tres Rios Wetlands with a local border friend of mine who I originally met in Jacksonville at Spoonbill Pond! Tres Rios is in Maricopa County, just southwest of Phoenix, in the small town of Tolleson. It is access by permit only, which is easy and free to get via the city. Tres Rios is hundreds of acres of wetland and riparian habitat along the Salt River, and is excellent for wading birds, waterfowl, raptors, and migrant songbirds. Tres Rios is 45 miles [65 minutes] from Roundhouse.

We arrived just after dawn, walked and birded for several hours, and tallied 65 species. It was great to see species I hadn’t seen since leaving Florida like Osprey, Northern Harrier, and American White Pelican. We saw Lesser and American Goldfinch, the latter species pictured above.

I added Sora to my county list, but missed on seeing or hearing Virginia Rail or Least Bittern. The wigeon flock included a few Eurasian x American Wigeon hybrids, one of which is above. Another great bird for me that afternoon was Crissal Thrashers, a species I’ve only seen a few times previously over 12 years of birding in Arizona.

Pictured above is a ‘western’ Red-tailed Hawk… seeing something like this in Florida would result in general excitement and a degree of pants pooping. I hope I don’t take these for granted as time goes by.

The following day, Marie and I headed to Lake Pleasant Regional Park in northern Maricopa, which is 29 miles [45 minutes] from Roundhouse. I had been once previously, and wanted to take her there. Lake Pleasant is a 10,000 acre artificial reservoir with an average depth of 70 feet. The park accepts the annual Maricopa parks pass, so ‘free’ for us to enter.

Several great species had been reported here recently, including Barrow’s Goldeneye, which we dipped on. Our consolation prize was a rare Herring Gull we found with the scope. We also noted several Western Grebes, Common Goldeneye, and a handful of other birds.

You can see a few pictures of the lake taken from the southern shore. Water levels are drawn down, but the sense of scale is still evident. The park also boasts a population of wild burros, of which we saw about 12 in 3 or 4 family groups. They are gorgeous.

We made it back to Roundhouse after lunch and I managed a few shots below. The Curve-billed Thrasher was just underneath one of the feeders.

Phainopepla have staked out the area in good numbers. Below is one that is now common in the yard.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a gorgeous sunset we enjoyed from the back patio.

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