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Bird Walk
Gilbert Riparian Preserve
November 30, 2021
by Randall Greeley

We met at 8:30 AM at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch for a beautiful morning of birding. Handouts were supplied that had a map of the park on one side and a bird list on the reverse. The bird list included information about season and abundance by species and served as an excellent checklist for the types that we spotted.

This 110 acre park is a multi-use area but is mainly for numerous water recharge ponds that double as a riparian preserve for wildlife, especially birds. During the winter months, it is an excellent area to spot migratory and wintering species as well as year-round residents.

Our walk began by crossing the floating bridge across the permanent lake which is also stocked with fish for those who enjoy that sport.

Trailblazers at the floating bridge. [photo by Lin]
Carl, Randall, Lidiette, Laura, Dave, Cindy, John, Jeanne, Nicole

Here we took some time for a group photo and began identifying numerous kinds of ducks, including a rare crested duck with a powder puff head. Several species spotted are here only during the winter months.

From top to bottom we have the Ring-necked duck, the rare Crested duck and the Mallard duck.
[photo by Lidiette]

Our walk continued into the recharge pond area where numerous trails weave among the ponds.

The highlight of our outing today was a very special sighting of a Roseate Spoonbill. This bird is in migration so our timing was just right and it is also considered to be less than a rare sighting at this location.

Roseate Spoonbill. [photo by Lin]
Roseate Spoonbill. [photo by Lin]

In another pond we enjoyed seeing several American white pelicans as winter visitors as well as Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Green-winged Teal ducks, and three types of Herons.

Nicole finds a quiet spot to use her telephoto lens and is surrounding by rabbit bush with its fluffy blooms.
[photo by Lidiette]
Cottontail rabbit. [photo by Lidiette]

As the recharge ponds are sometimes full and sometimes empty, even the ponds empty of water provide a different habitat. In one of the empty ponds we spotted shorebirds including the least sandpiper.

Our hike continued through a more desert part of the preserve where we spotted hummingbirds and the Abert’s Towhee.

We finished our hike by recrossing the floating bridge back to our trail head parking lot at 11:00 AM. Overall, we identified 30 species of birds today, a good day’s worth of birding and friendship.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated December 4, 2021