Saturday, January 16, 2016

Gilbert, Arizona - Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

I joined a group of photographers at the Gilbert Riparian at 6:30 am. It was cold but I had all of my cold weather gear and was reasonably comfortable.

The sun wasn't up yet when the group gathered to share information about the facility, lens, cameras and all that good chatter.  I found a spot behind a blind and set up my tripod. Santa brought me a big 600mm lens for Christmas and I was excited to try it out. I am not a "birder", so I will need to do more research to identify the birds.  (Hopefully, Paula will call me and help!)

This group was hanging out with feet in the water, cleaning and chatting. The sun is just starting to rise. Canada Geese. 

 These little ones were busy looking for things that hid in the dirt.
 These mallards are out for a swim.
 The next two photos go together. I thought that tit was funny that the group in the middle all turned to look at something at the same time.  Canada Geese

 I have always liked the big fluffy look of this one. Great Egret
 Pretty soon everyone was in the flying mood.  It took some time for me to readjust to be able to get a clear photo. Not all of these are perfect but you can see how pretty they are in flight.  And the light was good, and I was low enough, to catch some reflections.

This type would fly in and out solo. Great Egret

 Pretty soon a lot of "honking" started.  I soon learned that this is the "are we all ready to go" signal because the geese all took off in a huge group. Canada Geese
 These little ones weren't flying but did something that was more like a dance.  These might be Willetts. 
 Show off touching one wing to the water.
 And then gave me a nice profile shot.
 I took my lens off of the tripod, made the adjustments for handholding the camera and focused my attention on a nearby tree.  What fun to be able to get close-ups! Starling. 
Albert's Towhee

I saw that the Desert Rivers Audubon Society group had set up an exhibit in one of the large picnic areas.  Several birds were with them.  This screech owl kept looking at me.  I tried to move and get a two eyed look but when I moved, she moved.
 This one was not in the mood to spread her wings. She was beautiful. Swainson's or Cooper's hawk or a Sharp-shinned. 
 This is a burrowing owl.  They are so cute!  Again, looking at me and giving me the one eyed stare.
 I went back to my spot to take a few more photos around the trees. White crowned sparrow. 
Female White crowned sparrow. 
 This little cute.  There were a lot of them.  Anyone who lives in areas with rabbits knows that they love a crowd.  This one surprised me when he took a bite out of a cactus!

After about three hours, I packed my camera and came home.  This is a really nice area with seven large ponds filled at various levels, and sometimes empty.  Parking is limited at the entrance and there were many parking stalkers waiting for a space to empty.  If you go, plan to park in the large strip mall parking lot just to the west of the property. I noticed a lot of cars were there and people were cutting through (must be a path) to go to the park.  It was dog friendly as long as the furry friend is on a leash. 

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