- Southeast Arizona Birding Guide, Richard Fray - https://www.arizonabirder.com -

Roseate Spoonbills!

After our survey, Jennie and I decided to head out to Aquirre Lake at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in the hope of finding three Roseate Spoonbills that had been seen there off and on over the previous few days. We’d both seen this species elsewhere, but not in Arizona.

We dropped in at Amado Pond on the way, which hosted the continuing BROWN PELICAN and 13 BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS.

Embarrassingly, I’d never been to Buenos Aires before, so it was exciting just visiting a new site. It’s an impressive mesquite grassland, with permanent and seasonal pools which can attract shorebirds and wading birds in the right conditions. Today was one such occasion.

We started at Grebe Pond, a big, permanent pond, which had a GREATER YELLOWLEGS and a few BLACK-NECKED STILTS, but no spoonbills. Thankfully, another birder appeared and told us where we could find the big pink birds, which he’d seen feeding on Aguirre Lake itself, which is a large seasonal pond that is often dry but currently has a little bit of water and some great wading bird habitat. On the way to the lake, we found a few migrant WILLOW FLYCATCHERS in the willows and mesquites.

Willow Flycatcher [1]

Unfortunately, the spoonbills must have moved, as there was no sign of them at the lake. A ‘canal’ runs behind Grebe Pond, and we started to explore that habitat. A couple of BLUE-WINGED TEAL were among a flock of CINNAMON TEAL, a noisy BELTED KINGFISHER chattered away, and a NORTHERN HARRIER drifted by. Shorebirds included BAIRD’S, LEAST, and WESTERN SANDPIPERS. A couple of BANK SWALLOWS headed south, and other highlights were plenty of recently-arrived BREWER’S SPARROWS, LAZULI BUNTING, BULLOCK’S ORIOLE, and YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD.

The only big wading birds we’d found were a few GREAT EGRETS and nine WHITE-FACED IBIS. We were starting to feel our luck was out when I spied three big pink birds through the vegetation! We adjusted our position and were soon enjoying excellent views of three stunning ROSEATE SPOONBILLS, my 426th species for Arizona.

Roseate Spoonbills [2]

Roseate Spoonbills [3]

Roseate Spoonbills [4]

Roseate Spoonbills [5]

Roseate Spoonbills [6]

Roseate Spoonbills [7]

Roseate Spoonbills [8]

Roseate Spoonbills [9]

Roseate Spoonbills [10]

To end a wonderful day in fitting style, a scattered flock of 65 AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS drifted south, 39 of which I managed to fit into this photo.

American White Pelicans [11]