Escape to Gilbert

Mexican Amberwing on Amaranth

I escaped my quarantine the other day, in the late afternoon, for a couple of hours. I went to the Gilbert Riparian Preserve where I go about once a year. I should really go more often as there is an extreme diversity of all sorts of birds…water birds, songbirds, raptors, and always a rarity or 2. I went in pursuit of a rarity this time. I had seen literally hundreds of photos of a Roseate Spoonbill that has been there for a few weeks in my Facebook birding group. Most of the photos were so pretty, up close, so you could see its pink feathered fluffiness in detail. Well, I didn’t get there until about 4pm and I heard it had left for the day so I walked around looking, to no avail, but saw a lot of other birds. About 6pm, as it was getting dark, disappointed, I headed back to my car and saw it in a different pond than those it usually frequents! It was out quite a ways and it was getting dark so I didn’t get those pretty, detailed photos that I had seen from other people. But I saw it and it was awesome and it was a new life bird (lifer)! And I have proof:

It has giant black feet! This is not a bird that you find in Arizona normally. It likes Florida and Texas and other Gulf coasts. Actually, right now there are also 3 more of them at Glendale Recharge Ponds, too, on the completely opposite side of town. I would love to go see them and if it ever cools off here before they leave, I am going to go look for them, too.

But here are a few more of the birds I saw before finding it…

Great Egrets

Great Blue Herons

Green Heron

Snowy Egret

This beautiful red amaranth was all over; I had never seen it there before.

Mallard in Amaranth

Now for some songbirds…

Yellow-rumped Warblers (last photo indicates source of name)

Say’s Phoebe
White-crowned Sparrow
Vermilion Flycatcher, immature male, SO CUTE!
Orange-crowned Warbler
Townsend’s Warbler

Different than my yard birds! This makes me want to get back out there birding after this intense heat we have had, much longer than usual, and this horrible quarantine we’re in!!!! It was nice to have a change of scenery…

ASU Research Park

GBH Sharpened

GBH 1

GBH 3Great Blue Heron

Phoenix has had an amazing summer so far. Our temps, which normally would be around 100, have been in the 70s and 80s. This will all be ending soon, unfortunately, but we took advantage of the cool weather and went to a couple of local places.

These photos were taken at Arizona State University Research Park. GoDaddy, Edward Jones, and Amazon have offices there, among many other companies. Not like our typical walks out in nature, it was still kind of interesting. There are 3 large ponds, covering one mile, and a lot of fancy landscaping. Of course, it was cloudy and very windy so a lot of birds were laying low but we saw some water birds…

Great EgretGreat Egret

Pond 1

Pond 3

Pond 4

Green Heron Adult 1Green Heron, adult

Green Heron Juvie

Green Heron Juvie 2_edited-1Green Heron, juvenile

Grackle GirlGreat-tailed Grackle, female

NRWS JuviesNorthern Rough-winged Swallows, fledglings

Ducks

Ducklings

Duck Butt

Ducky CloseupMallard Ducklings

I could not figure out who this was until I studied my books for awhile:

Night-Heron 2

Night-Heron 1

The red eye was the giveaway…

BCNH CloseupBlack-crowned Night-Heron, juvenile

Strange looking little guy but it didn’t mind the attention.

Pond 2

It was very nice to be able to walk around in late May and never get hot!

Arlington

This steel truss bridge was built in 1927 over the Gila River downstream from the Gillespie Dam on what is now Old US Highway 80. It’s about an hour west from our house and sounded like an interesting little trip.

You can see the dam in these shots, above and below. It was constructed in 1920 but on January 9, 1993, due to record heavy rainfall, 120 feet of the dam collapsed. It was never repaired and nature has now taken over much of the area. The remnants of the dam remain in place and the area is largely accessible to the public. A small earthen embankment exists to divert water into nearby canals.

Before we headed over for a closer look at the dam, we were treated to an airshow!

American White Pelicans

You can get right up to the dam and, if you want to climb a little (we didn’t), you can even walk across it~until you hit the broken area.

Great Egret and Snowy Egrets

Apparently liability isn’t a concern for the County. I wouldn’t want to be under this building next time there is a record rainfall. It was an unusual, bizarre kind of place but in a good way. The whole area of Arlington is very agricultural. I wish we had gotten some shots of all the fields.

This place is now partially owned by the state and there were some trucks going in and out. I don’t believe it’s for cattle anymore but it is picturesque. We were then going to head to Arlington Wildlife Area but the dirt road we were on was way beyond rutted and we didn’t think it was wise.

Red-tailed Hawk

Instead we drove a few more miles west to a nondescript area known to birders as the “Thrasher Spot.” It’s just on the corner of 2 roads and rare thrashers and sparrows seem to congregate there in the desert brush. It was late afternoon by then and not too active but I did get my final lifer of 2017, a Sagebrush Sparrow!

Here’s a short article on the dam and bridge.

 

Gilbert Riparian Winter

Great EgretGreat Egret

Snowy EgretSnowy Egret

Black-crowned Night HeronBlack-crowned Night Heron

Green HeronGreen Heron

Last weekend I met some birding friends at The Riparian Preserve At Water Ranch in Gilbert, a Phoenix suburb. It’s usually just referred to as Gilbert Riparian. It’s really the place to go to see mega-birds but, being lazy, I seldom go there because it’s about 30 miles from home…which isn’t much, I know. I should go more because I got 8 lifers there that day!

Here they are:

LB Dowitchers

DowitcherLong-billed Dowitcher

Lesser Yellowlegs 2Lesser Yellowlegs

It’s kind of dark there in many places and some of the ponds (there are 7) were very low so the ducks were far away. The water levels fluctuate because it’s part of Gilbert’s water treatment system so a lot of my photos were not great.

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Spotted Towhee, Green-winged Teal, Cattle Egret, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Harrier

And I also got a really, really bad photo of a Song Sparrow that I’m not posting but it was also a lifer although I’m sure I’ve seen them around a lot in life as they’re quite common. But I only count birds as lifers if I have seen and photographed them since starting to bird.

And a few more non-lifers rounded out the morning.

Ruddy Blue BillRuddy Duck, male

KestrelAmerican Kestrel, male

Anna'sAnna’s Hummingbird

AvocetAmerican Avocet

After spending a few hours there, my friends and I went on to Apache Junction, where one of them lives, and spent the afternoon on her beautiful patio at the foot of the Superstition Mountains where she attracts a ton of birds and where I got some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. Next time…

Papago Winter

Snowy 1

Snowy 2Snowy Egret

These photos were from a recent late afternoon visit to Papago Park in Phoenix.

PhoebeBlack Phoebe

Ring-necked Duck Head

Ring-necked DuckRing-Necked Duck Drake

CormorantNeotropic Cormorant

Snowy 3Snowy and Cormy

Shoveler ReedsNorthern Shoveler

Papago has a lot of reeds which can make for interesting patterns on the water.

GallinuleCommon Gallinule, immature

GrebePied-Billed Grebe

I went there in search of these lifers, Northern Pintails, and I found them. There were 3 drakes and a popular hen.

Pintail 5

Pintail 1

Pintail Couple

Pintail 4

Pintail 3

Pintail 2

After posing nicely, they swam off into the sunset.

4 Pintails

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