Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wandering through the Water Ranch

It's been way too long since I've visited one of my favorite places here in the Salt River Valley. The Gilbert Riparian Preserve's use of reclaimed water in a series of ponds and streams has created an oasis here in the desert. It's home to all sorts of wildlife, and migratory birds love to winter here.

The Preserve is filled with walking trails, and you'll always see people carrying cameras and tripods because rare birds are sighted here all the time. The wildlife has a healthy respect for humans, but if you're quiet and don't move around a lot, it's not unusual to have critters come right up to your feet. One of my fondest memories is of sitting on a bench in a secluded spot with a mother duck and her babies napping just a few feet away. (Mother kept one eye open at all times but didn't move otherwise!)

I'm always on the lookout for ospreys and kingfishers, but you never know what you're going to see when you start walking those trails. Follow along with me on my latest visit. You'll see sights that you normally wouldn't think occurred in a desert. If you'd like to see any of the photos in their original sizes, just click on one of them, and a new window will automatically open so that you may do so. Now... let's start wandering through the Water Ranch!

That sun made the available shade welcome!

As long as I didn't move, this mourning dove and its partner stayed right at my feet.

Water and shade, two of the most valuable commodities in the desert.

Little did I know that this wouldn't be the first egret I'd see!

A group of ducks was having a fine old time, quacking, racing, and splashing.

I love these shady paths. I always feel as though I'll find secrets in them.

Egrets, a great blue heron, and cormorants enjoying the sun and water.

I know they can't help it, but herons and egrets always look grumpy!

These Neotropic cormorants look ungainly beside their egret and heron friends.

A friendly white-crowned sparrow.

A Northern shoveler duck. The bill says it all.

One of the biggest mesquite trees I've ever seen.

A hungry Gambel's quail.

On our way out to the parking lot-- the sentinels of the Sonoran Desert, the saguaros.

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to my next visit to the Water Ranch!


  1. Just wonderful to see these birds and their surroundings. Being a big city person, I see pigeons, doves, sparrows and robins, but this being a cold winter, none are around.

    Thanks for the photographs, always good.

    Where is this nature preserve in relation to Phoenix?

    1. The preserve is in the metropolitan area, or the Valley of the Sun as the promoters like to call it. I live about five miles or so from the state capitol building. From my house, the preserve is 25 miles as the crow flies. By road, it's 32 miles. This is a huge, sprawling metro area.

  2. What fabulous 'photos, Cathy! So glad you took the time to visit the preserve. Those places can be real restorers for the soul...

  3. Those are great pictures! Love the close-ups of the birds. And I don't really think about Phoenix as being a wildlife location, but it is. And I love the cactus, as long as I don't get too close.

    1. Sounds to me like you've had some personal experience with a cactus or two!

  4. I love these photos Cathy! I think I'd have to take a trip there at least once a week.

  5. I never thought about Phoenix being a wildlife location until I saw photos from the Desert Botanical Gardens. And now this!
    Lucky to live near these wonders.


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