Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch, Maricopa County, AZ

Saturday, November 5th
After two days of much needed rain, it felt good to wake up knowing that I could go birding in cooler weather after such a long hot summer.

Much traffic on US 60 at 6 a.m. made me wonder what unknown event might be happening but I'm thinking Arizona (at least around here) just wakes up early and gets out and about.
Still too dark to really bird when I arrived at Gilbert Water Ranch (GWR) at 6:15, I counted 20 cars in the parking lot and took one of the last spaces in the east end.

Joggers, dog-walkers, fitness walkers, photographers, birders and just people going for a walk filled the trails.

Seeing no rarities during my 2.5 mile walk in three hours, I decided to just post photos of some of the bird activity I witnessed. They do fascinate me.

When it seemed light enough, I lifted my camera for these two takes.

Loggerhead Shrike (although its range is listed as "year round", I haven't seen one at GWR for quite a while)

Canada Geese lifting off from Pond 7
Although many of the ponds contained shallow water mud-flat habitat, it was filled with waterfowl arriving for the winter (teal, pintail, shovelers, and dowitchers) including some skittish flocks of Least Sandpiper.

Least Sandpiper

Rarely do I take photos of the super-abundant Great-tailed Grackles, but today I found one bathing not far from where I stood.

An Osprey overhead is always a welcome sight.

While some birds are out in the wide open like the Osprey, the Black-crowned Night Herons  are hidden in the shrubs and trees like this one juvenile below. Today, I spotted two adult and two juvie BCNH.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

Also perched in a tree was a Northern Flicker that, despite the sunlight, was showing that it was Red-shafted female with tan malar stripe and gray head.

Although I missed one pond, I finally found where many many Mallards were swimming about.  

Long-legged shorebirds have always fascinated me.

American Avocet in basic (winter) plumage

Black-necked Stilt with bubble-gum pink legs

Black-necked Stilts preening

Before I wrapped up for the morning, I spotted this Snowy Egret looking for breakfast.

To view my eBird checklist of 55 species, click the link below.  So glad to be able to pick up and go out for a couple hours in our very birdy East Valley.

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