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Old Wednesday 24th June 2015, 23:02   #1
David in NC
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While I hate the heat (!) it seems like every so often, I find some reference to Scottsdale AZ and think about planning a visit.

I am a law enforcement TASER Instructor and TASER is based there. One of my favorite online watch stores (which also has a brick and mortar store) is there. A while back a friend told me he liked the Scottsdale area as well as anywhere he'd vacationed before in the US. I know I have saw videos and articles about birding in the region also.

So if I ever make this happen-I'd like to hear some advice on lodging, dining, birding, etc.


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Old Saturday 4th July 2015, 03:22   #2
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Depending on whether you want to drive south a little bit, the birding in south-east Arizona is amazing. I live in Tucson (about an hour south) and I just started birding again - I cannot believe how good it is here. The best month is probably August, after the monsoons have cooled things off a bit (the birds love it!)

Scottsdale is a great town, but at this point in the summer it is incredibly hot! Too hot even for the locals to go birding during the day. For the coming week, daytime highs range between 100 F and 107 F, with only 1 day at 100. Humidity is around 27 percent - If you are from NC, you are used to wet heat, but even so...

Anyway, I hope that helps. A trip to Scottsdale with some day-trips south is a great idea. There may be good birding in the Phoenix area too that I am not aware of. I know Tucson Audubon sells a guidebook for that part of the state in their online shop.


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Old Saturday 4th July 2015, 05:01   #3
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Scottsdale, mainly north Scottsdale, is considered one of the wealthy areas of the Phoenix valley. It is very popular for winter visitors and so it has multiple resorts, restaurants and golf courses. Some of those facilities are on the expensive side. Lodging prices are much higher in the winter tourist season.

Scottsdale used to call themselves the West's most western town, but that was years ago. Back then, downtown Scottsdale did not allow traffic lights and all buildings had to have a western front. Good or bad, all of that has gone by the way side and most everything is now new modern buildings.

I really can not recommend any place specific because I have lost track with so much change. The hotels and resorts change ownership all the time. The internet travel sites should have the most current information.

July and August are hot with some humidity from the summer monsoon storms. It is not uncommon for the nightly lows to be in the low to mid 90's. The nights start to cool off some around the first part of September. The hottest day on record for Phoenix was June 22, 1990 at 122 F. Figure around 106 to 114 for July and August. Today was an exception and it only reached 98 F at my place.

The birds are up with the sun in the hot summer. Activity dies down soon and the birds go were ever they can find shade. Activity picks up late in the day. Most common are White Winged Doves, Mourning Doves, Gambel Quail, Curved Bill Thashers, Abert's Towhee, Sparrows, hummingbirds, finches, Verdins and more. I have some Hooded Orioles hanging around this summer. eBird is a good reference to see what is where and when.

The Scottsdale area is highly developed so there is not a lot of natural terrain. Indian Bend Wash runs south through the area. It has been developed with green belts and golf courses and it contains many small man made lakes. The problem is there is not much natural vegetation so the shore line offers little cover. These ponds hold a variety of ducks in the winter but not so much in the summer. The ducks start arriving around the end of September and most are here by December for their winter stay.

There are several desert parks with easy hiking trails near by. Those are areas to possibly see a variety of birds while hiking around. It will mostly be one of those deals were you will see one bird here, and couple over there, etc. However it can get extremely hot so you want lots of water and do not range to far from the car. It is important to respect the desert in the summer.

The best place to see a good variety of birds year round is the Gilbert Water Ranch in the south east part of the valley. This a manmade riparian which is used to recharge the water table. It should be about a 30 to 40 minute drive from north Scottsdale during non rush hour and is mostly freeway to get there. However parts of that freeway is under major construction right at the moment.

Another spot to go that is closer is the Desert Botanical Gardens just south of Scottsdale. They do charge a pricy daily admission but the plants and feeders attract a good variety of birds. The best time is early morning.

Just to the southeast of the Gardens are the Papago ponds which I enjoy checking out in the summer. There is natural growth along much of the pond shore line which is better than the green belt ponds in north Scottsdale. The ponds are surrounded by desert terrain so chances are good to spot some desert birds. There are easy hiking trails.

The best birding out of the Papago Park ponds for me is the Evelyn Hallman Park pond in the south east corner of the park. I walk the outer perimeter of the lake and the island. You will usually find a variery of brown birds, and some water birds in the pond, such as Mallards, Grebes, Coots and sometimes more. There are also hawks hanging around along with some other occasional birds. There may also be some migrating species at the end of August.

Here is a great web site discussing birding locations in the general area....

This was put together by Tommy D and he also has an excellent birding blog covering his outings in Maricopa County. It may be worth while to look over entries for around the time you would visit just to find out what he was seeing in the area.

Scottsdale is a beautiful area with some great views of the surrounding desert mountains. Summer may not be the best time out here for birding but there are still plenty to see if you are willing to adjust to the summer environment. I suspect you would find plenty to do so long as you can contend with the heat during the summer. The good news is that everything other than the outdoors is air conditioned so it is easy to get relief.
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