The killdeer and stilts are down in the recharge basin, but I am surprised to see water in Overlook Pond. I have never walked out this way or seen water in this pond before, so Gus and I head on down the path. By now we have been here for an hour and I am starting to feel the heat. My mouth is getting so dry and I want a drink of water, but the water is back at the car, and we have walked farther than I anticipated. I find a bench under a tree and stand in the shade to see what I can see. There are swallows dipping over the water and landing on the branches of a dead tree that overhangs the pond. I study them carefully trying to determine what I am seeing. The birds are mostly a dull brown with a totally brown head that fades to a light gray or white on their breasts and underbellies. I am sure I am seeing Northern Rough-winged swallows but they are suppose to be solitary, so I am surprised to see 5 of them hanging out together.
While I am watching swallows, Gus is stalking a Great Egret he sees farther down the path. I watch as he gets closer and the bird spies him. It crouches down, lowering its long neck, trying to disappear. Finally, it decides Gus is too close and it lifts its great white wings and flies off a short distance to hide in the reeds again. Gus strolls back towards me and I take the camera to photograph the swallows on the distant shore. I don’t expect to get any great shots, but it’s helpful to be able to confirm the identity when we get home.
By now I am so hot and thirsty that I tell Gus we need to head back towards the car. As we round the curve of the pond I stop in my tracks. I can't believe my eyes, for there in a willow tree a flock of 15 Northern Rough-winged Swallows are perched in the branches. (How many can you see?) And I thought 5 together was unusual!
They are right beside the path, so I freeze while Gus gets some shots. They almost look fake, don't they? But they are very real.
We find a small path through from this pond up to the main trail and I tell Gus to follow this back to the car. I hurry on ahead for I can tell by the way my body feels that I am getting dehydrated. I try to hurry back to the car but can’t resist stopping to identify an Abert’s Towhee, an Anna’s Hummingbird, and a Gilded Flicker on the way. I pass a man standing near the Gazebo Pond. He has a tripod and a camera with a long lens on it, but I don’t stop to talk. At the car I open the cooler and guzzle a pint of water. Then, I get another bottle out to take back with me. It is my intention to meet up with Gus and continue birding, but here he comes walking down the path.He has had enough of the heat also, so we get into the air-conditioned vehicle and talk. He tells me he spoke with the guy with the camera and he was looking for the Elegant Trogon! Someone had seen it here just an hour ago, but no luck so far. I wished I had known that was even a possibility. I wouldn’t have wasted time on mallards and grackles; I would have been scouring the trees for this elusive bird. I have yet to capture it for my life-list and what an awesome photographic opportunity that would have been for Gus! Just before we leave we see the guy come walking out with his camera. He tells us he never saw it, so we drive away.
Perhaps we will make it to Cave Creek Canyon in a week or two (To see some awesome photos click on the link). From the information I have read, spring and summer are the best times to be there. For now, we head back home with our picnic we intended to eat at Catalina State Park where even the shade is too warm.