Wide awake at 4 a.m., I decided to get up to do some birding at Gilbert Water Ranch, about a twenty-minute drive from my home. Although the place fills up quickly on weekends, I arrived just before dawn with just two other cars in the lot.
A Great Blue Heron on a distant platform looked good in the early-morning light.
About ten minutes later, I saw a different one perched on a light standard and was able to get fairly close to it.
|Great Blue Heron|
Overhead, I heard Canada Geese flying my way as they lifted off a distant pond.
My birding route was haphazard. Many ponds had low water so I checked from the trail and if shorebirds or waterfowl were present, I walked as close as possible. Some good birds insist on staying beyond photo range, however, so I simply enjoyed the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs that were hanging out together in a remnant of water in Pond 2.
Although I saw no hawks fly over, an American Kestrel was perched watchfully over the plowed settling ponds.
Closer to me was an Anna's Hummingbird.
|Anna's Hummingbird in a mesquite tree on north shore o Pond 5|
|Pied-billed Grebe on Pond 6|
Residents at Gilbert Water Ranch, Black-crowned Night Herons appear to have had a very successful breeding year. While four of them were lined up in a row several feet apart, another photographer blocked my view and ability to capture that particular shot. I was fine with getting individual poses when the space became available for me.
|Adult Black-crowned Night Heron (note the red eye)|
|First-year juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron (also showing its red eye)|
Every now and again, I'd spot a warbler bopping around in a tree next to a pond. It's always helpful when they peek out from behind the leaves to give me some clues. A Nashville, Yellow and Wilson's Warbler caught my attention as they were busy foraging this morning at various locations.
And, then, there's always the bird that I know I should know and it doesn't "click" for me.
|Female Brown-headed Cowbird|
People walking dogs, jogging, bicycling and showing up for bird-watching makes this riparian preserve a special place for a lot of people. But when they show up, it's time for me to leave! I counted 44 species in just under two hours.
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View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24994774