One of the great things about moving back to Flagstaff, AZ, is the number of places there are to walk. Because it’s surrounded by the Coconino National Forest, there are lots of opportunities to get out and enjoy nature. In addition, the city maintains miles of urban trails. Last week I decided to go for a walk around a place I’ve been calling the duck ponds on the grounds of the country club. I don’t know what they’re called formally, but given the large number of waterfowl that congregates there, I think my name is appropriate. Regardless of what you call them, they consist of two, large connected man-made pools, each with a small artificial waterfall at the top.
The walkway is paved and goes all the way around the lake. All in all, it’s a pleasant, level walk that’s about a mile loop. The only real obstacle is the sheer quantity of goose poop on the trail. It pays to watch where you’re going!
As soon as I got to the trail, I spotted a pair of ducks floating along serenely. The male was quite a handsome boy.
A little further around the loop, I saw this pair of American Coots out for an afternoon swim.
I soon reached the top of the first pond. I particularly like this spot and frequently see people just sitting and enjoying the view.
Towards the top of the second pond, I came across this spotted sandpiper hunting for food along the water’s edge. It was quite cooperative and struck a pose for my camera.
Mallards, coots, and sandpipers not withstanding, by far the most abundant bird like is represented by the huge number of Canadian geese that call the ponds home year-round. This is just one of the flocks around the ponds that day.
At the top of the loop at the second pond is the most beautiful view of the walk. Mt. Elden dominates the east side of town and the view of it from here is especially wonderful.
About 10 minutes later I completed the walk and was rewarded with a sighting of this osprey sitting on her nest across the road from the ponds. Osprey are fish-eaters and build massive nests high in dead snags over bodies of water.
Once I returned to my car, I drove down a dirt road along the ponds to scope out what looked like a possible trailhead (more on that in future blog). I happened to look up to see another osprey perched high overhead, less than a mile from the nest. I had to wonder if this was mate of the female on the nest. It seems likely due to his proximity to the nest site. Males stay close to their nesting females, and provide their families with food while the chicks are young.
It turns out that the area I scoped out was an NFS trailhead offering promise of further explorations