Dave and I took a short drive to the White Tanks this week to see the spring flowers and birds. The park is an easy 20-30 minute drive west on Bell Road and then south on 303 to the Peoria exit which is a mile north of Olive. There is no signage on 303 indicating that this is the proper exit to the park and there is no exit for Olive Avenue from the 303 which is the street that leads into the White Tank Park. People who live here know these things and GPS devices likely give the right directions so be forewarned if you plan to make this trip. There is a $6 day fee per vehicle. Camping is also available as is hiking and biking. A competitive mountain biking course is located here as is a regional library that has a neat shop for all things desert; books, hats, nature guides, etc. You can visit the library without having to pay the fee for the park. A trail riding venue is also located nearby if you like horse riding.
We got to the park around 8:00 AM and I decided that the Black Rock Trail loop would be the place for our hike. It is an easy trail with a short loop and a longer loop and is adjacent to Area 4 which has a car park, restroom and day picnicking area with a covered play area for children. The trail is mostly flat and abuts a wash in several places. This wash is a good place to spot birds.
There is a black tailed gnatcatcher in the center of this photo. My old pocket Canon camera does not do this kind of photo well, but I took the shot anyway and cropped it so you might have a better chance of locating the bird. We also saw white crowned sparrow, Gila woodpecker, thrasher, cactus wren, and a buzzard.
This cactus, the beaver tail cacti and the various kinds of cholla were blooming now. The barrel cacti and saguaro will not bloom until later in the summer.
I believe this is a clock face beavertail cactus.
Another hedgehog along the trail.
This beavertail will be spectacular soon.
Also blooming along the trail were a variety of shrubs and trees.
Brittlebrush with cholla and saguaro in background.
This female jojoba has the fruit which is rich in an oil that is used in hand creams.
Also along the trail and in many other areas of the park were petroglyphs.
This looks like a happy person jumping up and clicking her heels! That's the way I felt the entire time we were hiking.
I took some photos of reference materials that were helpful to me in identifying the desert flora and fauna.