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!