Date: 3/5/17 2:06 pm
From: Lindsay Story <klstory...>
Subject: [AZNMbirds] CEAZ: Rio Salado Pathway –Tempe (AZ) Marketplace to Mesa Riverview
Keith, Poppa, and I were curious what continuing high water might have brought to the Salt River bed behind Tempe Marketplace. On the south side of the river, this Tempe AZ shopping complex is in the NE corner of Rio Salado Pkwy & McClintock Dr. We parked behind Harkins Theater (NE corner of the Marketplace) and headed upriver on the overlook walk. There is definitely lots of water. Today we got to see substantially more of it than in the past. That is because the Rio Salado Pathway now extends upriver to Dobson Rd. See later for more on that.

CATTLE EGRET flew overhead. GADWALLS were in the first pond on the south. Two OSPREYS could be seen downriver when we started from Harkins. They were likely the same two we saw much later by McClintock Bridge. Another two Ospreys were at the 101/202 freeway interchange where we began new territory. Likewise, there were two BALD EAGLES near McClintock Bridge and two upriver nearer our endpoint. The latter two were north of Riverview Park. They weren’t too far from the eagle tree at McKellips & Dobson (N of the 202). The usual assortment of Green Herons, Great Egrets, and Belted Kingfishers (2) were seen as well.

Keith left Poppa and me just after we began the new portion of the walk. He kindly went back for the SUV and met us at Dobson Rd. We three then returned to Tempe Marketplace, this time parking near McClintock Bridge so I could spend a few minutes checking the wide river, marsh, and lake. Besides the Ospreys and eagles already mentioned, I enjoyed two NORTHERN FLICKERS (red-shafted) that were on a fallen tree together. NORTHERN SHOVELERS and AMERICAN WIGEONS were in the air. WESTERN GREBES and RUDDY DUCKS were just west of McClintock Bridge, as was a lone SPOTTED SANDPIPER.

In general, there were fewer birds than I expected but we had fun trying to gather a respectable list. Skies were overcast, the temperature mild.

Rio Salado Parkway:

Substantial work has been done. A wide asphalt walk continues past the old gate at the 101 underpass. The new walk has lighting, periodic parklike seating areas, landscaping, and access to both Riverview Park and Dobson Rd/Mesa Riverview shopping area. These two locations are in Mesa AZ. Riverview Park is adjacent to the Chicago Cubs spring training facility. “N Riverview” goes north from Rio Salado Pkwy. It passes between Riverview Park’s ponds and the Sheraton Mesa Hotel. At the small interior roundabout, head briefly west/left on Cubs Way, then north/right into a parking area. At the far N end of this parking, there is a tunnel that goes under the 202 freeway and accesses the new Rio Salado Pathway. There is a sidewalk to the tunnel, for anyone walking from the park.

For those on the Pathway and continuing upriver, the Dobson Rd access point is next. A pedestrian stoplight gets people across the 202 fwy off-ramp. A second stoplight lets people safely cross the on-ramp. This light is just off Bass Pro Shop parking at Mesa Riverview shopping complex.

My Garmin read 2.4 miles from Harkins Theater to the point we left the Pathway and headed to the first Dobson stoplight. That seems a bit long, but may be accurate as the river curves somewhat and thus so does the Pathway.

Ever since Keith and I first came to the Valley in the late 1980s, first as snowbirds and later as residents, we have wished for a Tempe-Mesa walking/biking route along the river. I was so excited to see an extension being built and I do appreciate all the effort. From a personal perspective, it is just a shame no one consulted a 5’2” tall birder before they installed the new fence along the river side of the path. It is attractive, lessens the amount of shying from a fully vertical fence, and no doubt does its job just fine. However, it is too tall, too dense, and curves at the top in such a way that I really struggled to see through it. Carrying scope and camera was for naught, as everything was hazy when seen through the fence itself. I found myself trying to peek over it by standing on my tip toes but then I was leaning forward to counteract the curved top. None of these efforts proved successful. Anyway, I am sure the new Pathway will get tons of use. Certainly, bicyclists like it based on the number of riders encountered today.

I have a whole weekend of birding photos and lists to tackle, but that job is going to wait until tomorrow…so go check out the river on your own. Enjoy the upgrade.

Lindsay Story –Mesa AZ

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