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.


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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rarity #2

Eurasian Wigeon 1

Wigeon 2

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I had seen two rarities lately. This is the second one and he comes from the same part of the world as the first rarity, the Mandarin Duck. This is an Eurasian Wigeon drake.

“Common and widespread in the Old World, the Eurasian Wigeon is a sporadic visitor to North America. Regular in very small numbers along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, single individuals have turned up in nearly all states and provinces. The Eurasian Wigeons seen each year in North America likely come from eastern Siberia and Iceland.” (All About Birds)

Wigeon 3

He is at a park in Glendale, AZ, and this is his third winter there so he must enjoy it. He is still in his “eclipse plumage” and will become a rich auburn color in another month or 2 when he is in his breeding plumage. I saw photos of him taken last February and he was gorgeous so I might go out and see him again.

As a comparison, here are some American Wigeons (that he was hanging out with):

Wigeon BoyAmerican Wigeon, drake

Wigeon GirlAmerican Wigeon, hen

Wigeon Couple

I also saw these guys at the same park:

Gray DuckHybrid Duck

EgretGreat Egret

Heron FullGreat Blue Heron

Heron Head

Heron Landing

And he has landed!


Return to Tres Ríos


GBH Fly 2

GBH Herodynamics

I like to call these “Herodynamics.” We were back at Tres Rios a couple of weeks ago. This post will look a lot like my original post from there, 7 weeks earlier.



Black-Crowned Night Heron


Common Gallinule


American Coots

GBH Flamingo 2

Great Blue Heron


GE Flying

Great Egret



GBH Over Water



Osprey 3

Below are the only photos I could get of the comical, cartoonish-looking Belted Kingfisher. They’re fast!

Kfisher 2

Kfisher 3


This is my souvenir from the day which, I assume, is from a Great Blue Heron as it is about a foot long.

Heron Feather_edited-1

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tres Ríos


I’ve found my new favorite place in town: Tres Rios Overbank Wetlands. Tres Rios is 480 acres of constructed emergent wetlands at the confluence of the Salt, Gila, and Agua Fria Rivers in far west Phoenix. Built by the Army Corps of Engineers, the primary goals are flood protection for the local residents and habitat restoration for native animals. The water source for Tres Rios is highly treated effluent from the City of Phoenix’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. All the plants are native to Arizona. You can read more about Tres Rios here.


I have far more photos in this post than I normally do so I’ll try not to write much. Someday this area will have ramadas and restrooms and be open to the public but right now it is (easily-obtained) permit only. Tony and I were the only humans there last Sunday. I can’t wait to go back when it’s cooler and full of even more birds and wildlife. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Nests in Tree

These are Great Blue Heron nests!

Nests Close

GBH Barb

And speaking of GBHs, there are a lot of them there. They like the marshy areas but they kept flying off and going into the inaccessible-to-humans pond areas when they saw us.


Tony took this photo, above, I love it! The GBH looks almost prehistoric here.


Cattails Close

Common Gallinule

Common Gallinule, above.

Cormorant Flock

Flock of Neotropic Cormorants.

Cormorant Fly


G Egret

Great Egret in the marsh.

Dead Tree and Mtns

Cove Longshot_edited-1

Lilies and Reeds

Osprey Fish

I didn’t know the Osprey had a fish until I looked at the photo later (not very sharp). Another one, below, is enjoying his fish in the tree.

Osprey Tree Fish

Ibis Flock

White-Faced Ibis, above and below. The 300mm lens is beginning to seem too puny. (You can see their curved bills by clicking on the photos.)

Ibis Redo

S Egret

Snowy Egret fishing.


Marsh 2

Marsh 3

On the other side of the fence in this photo, above, are the inaccessible ponds.

Mexican Amberwing Dfly 3

These Mexican Amberwings were everywhere, sparkling in the sunlight, and they’re tiny, about an inch long, at most.

Reeds and Water


Hawk Fly




Wings 4


Rushing Water

TV 4

I think this photo, above, and the next 4, below, is of a Turkey Vulture. They are plentiful at Tres Rios but some of these may be hawks also.

TV Fly 2

TV Fly 3_edited-1

TV Fly 4

TV Fly



Unidentified Birds_edited-1

Pinkish Bird

I have no clue what the birds in the above 3 photos are. I do have 2 birding field guides ordered so I can get good at this stuff. If you have a guess, please tell me.

Longview 2

This place is just stunningly beautiful to me…I can’t wait to go back. It’s the best riparian location I’ve been. Blue skies, mountains, water, birds and other wildlife, it’s awesome!

Bubbling Water

Here’s an aerial view of Tres Rios. Most of those ponds are inaccessible to humans but there is still a huge area that is accessible. (Credit for below photo here.)

Tres Rios Aerial

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If, after all that, you would like to see how Tres Rios works, here is a video: