Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch, Mesa, Maricopa County, AZ

October 9, 2015
To check out the birds at Gilbert Water Ranch this morning, I invited Sharon O. from my community to join me. Although she had never birded before, she handled my old binoculars with ease and enjoyed our time there -- including a re-route due to the east gate being closed.

When we started birding at 6:45 a.m., the first birds visible in the dawning hour were numerous white birds at the southern edge of Pond 7. In front of about a dozen of those Great and Snowy Egrets stood a very big thick white bird that even Sharon recognized.  "Is that a pelican?"  Yes! An American Pelican! -- big as life but too dark for photos. We lucked out that it was still present when we returned. So, I snapped a few distant photos.

White Pelican stretching its wing, tipped in black

A female Great-tailed Grackle looked stunning in the rising sunlight.

Female Great-tailed Grackle
Several American Avocets were scattered from pond to pond including this one, shared with a Neo-tropic Cormorant.

American Avocet, basic plumage

Not all winged creatures were birds.  Dragonflies fascinate me and Sharon was awed by its translucent wings

Herons overhead in nearby trees tend to wig me out. Yet, it was this bird staring at me from its perch on a tree limb in the woods around Greenbelt Lake in Maryland many years ago -- that piqued my curiosity enough to make me buy a bird book. I've been birding sporadically ever since, so I took a photo of this similar one at the Water Ranch this morning.

It was another comfortable weather morning to be out among the ponds and the birds.  As usual, I was ready to leave as more dog-walkers and bicyclers arrived.  Temperature had risen from the high 60s to the 80s so it was time. Great and Snowy Egrets as well as Black-crowned Night Herons and Great Blues added to our enjoyment. I spotted only one warbler, an Orange-crowned, and checked off a Horned Grebe at Pond 5. 

As we were leaving on the east trail, a Red-tailed Hawk perched on the light standard by the restroom. It seemed curious about having its photo taken.

Red-tailed Hawk
Having Sharon along enjoying the "process" of birding was fun in and of itself. 

* * *


  1. Glad you are getting out and having fun. Looks like another beautiful day birding....and even better with a friend. Have fun this weekend!

  2. Had yard work to do in the cool morning hours today and am now caught up in a very good book, The Boys in the Boat. Don't know if you're aware of it, but it's about a rowing team from U of Washington in the 1930s. Great read. Birds will have to wait.