Friday, April 22, 2016

Day 2: Deadhorse Ranch State Park

Lagoon at Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Today we walked along the Greenway at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ. Our tour leader was expert at birding by ear and knew where many nests were, so we had a good time. The warblers followed us up and down the river looking for tasty little caterpillars.
Bewick's Wren

Gila Woodpecker with Treat
Ladderback Woodpecker
Yellow Warbler
Spotted Sandpiper
We scanned the edges of the cattails in the lagoons for shore birds like the Green Heron. Instead one of our group (who was probably looking at the turtles) saw this little Spotted Sandpiper, a real surprise to our tour leader and a great find.
Vermilion Flycatcher Male
A family of Vermilion Flycatchers was the highlight of the day. Flycatchers are easy to watch. When they leave a perch, they swoop out to catch a bug and usually return to the same perch again. We noticed that this brightly colored male preferred sitting in low branches of the trees rather than high in the branches in most instances. Guess he can see better that way.
Vermilion Flycatcher Female
The female sat waiting rather impatiently for us to leave the vicinity of her nest tree so she could care for her chicks.
Vermilion Flycatcher hovering
Dick and I returned later in the day, for more photos of the male, who kept his back to my camera during the morning walk. We saw him almost hover in the air showing this fantastic display of white under his wings. I've never seen that before!
Lark Sparrow (left)
Diamond Back Rattler
Other than the great birds, we had some excitement when heading back to headquarters. Our tour leader said, "I'll go first. There may be snakes in here." and sure enough she heard a rustling in the grass. I was right behind her a few feet, and I heard a rattle! She looked down and there was a diamond backed rattle snake. It eyed her for a while then slithered through the grass and disappeared. I got a photo of his rattles, and this was obviously a large adult snake. Needless to say, we didn't try any more shortcuts!

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