Monday, January 6, 2020

Wildlife at Thunderbird Conservation Park, Glendale, Arizona

Today on my short hike along the Coachwhip trail at Thunderbird Conservation Park, I saw quite a bit of wildlife. 

Right out of the gate, I saw this beautiful Gambel's Quail:

As I was moving to get a better shot, I startled this little guy, who ran a few feet away and hid under a cholla cactus, then ran again before posing for this cotton-tail shot. 

Birds were out in full force, including many I didn't recognize, like this guy, but the picture shows how very green it was (for the desert) because of the recent rains.  Also note the nice black rock.

I saw lots of lizards, including this one with nice blue coloring (probably a common side-blotched lizard):

The little man-made lake had lots of water birds, but you could only see them from a distance, since the wildlife watching blinds they'd made had very little view of the water.  Maybe the bushes have grown up a lot since the blinds were built.  Since I didn't want to trespass, I didn't go down near the shore.  However, every once in a while I'd hear a noise sort of like an engine, but which was caused by a whole flock of birds taking off across the water or landing back down on it.  Such a cool sound. 

One bird I did see (though from rather far away, as evidenced by the fuzziness of the picture):

This beautiful little hummingbird was probably a Costa's hummingbird, but I'm not 100% sure.

Then, the crown jewel of the day, sitting perched on a saguaro:

A female American Kestrel, I believe.  So beautiful.  Such big talons, such a hooked little beak.  Such beautiful coloring. And such a twisty neck!  Look at this:

It was a fantastic day.  Beautiful weather, awesome wildlife, four geocaches...and most of the time I had the trail entirely to myself.

If you go:
-Thunderbird Conservation Park is in Glendale, part of the Phoenix metropolitan area.  If you take my route, you'll be walking part of the way along the backyards of mansions.  You're never far from the city.  So the wildlife was doubly amazing.
-I started at the bottom end of the Coachwhip trail, where 51st Avenue turns in Melinda Lane, more or less.  There's a little parking there.  I took the trail to the central parking lot off 59th Ave.
-Various other trails loop around the park from various trailheads.  Some give good views of the city.
-Though the Coachwhip trail was pretty easy and not very long, I recommend doing in in spring, winter, or fall. 
-Do not take ANY trail in Phoenix in summer unless you're used to the heat, have plenty of water, and start very early.
-Watch for snakes and don't stick your hands where you can't see. 
-Admission free

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