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Bird Walk
Gilbert Riparian Preserve
December 18, 2021
by Randall Greeley

Hike results: 1.2 miles, 38 bird species.

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 an excellent 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 stocked with fish for those who enjoy that sport. We proceeded directly to Dragonfly Ramada where we met with Anne, a member of the Desert Rivers Chapter of the Audubon Society. Randall and Anne served as guides to help with identifying birds today.

Michael, Carl, Carol, and hike leader Randall.

Several white pelicans were found in a small cove at one end of the ponds, where we observed them swimming side-by-side. They moved toward the end of the pond as they were pushing fish towards shallower waters and then scooped them up for a fine meal. They are an uncommon winter visitor.

American White Pelican. [photo by Carol]

Our walk continued into the recharge pond area, where numerous trails weave among the ponds. We next find several Black-crowned Night Herons.

Black-crowned Night Heron. [photo by Carol]

The Roseate Spoonbill we spotted here a couple of weeks ago was still around and a real treat. This bird is in migration and is considered to be less than a rare sighting at this location.

Roseate Spoonbill. [photo by Carol]
Anna’s hummingbird. [photo by Carol]

As the recharge ponds are sometimes full and sometimes empty, even the ponds empty of water provide a different habitat. In one of the emptier ponds we spotted shorebirds. including the Long-billed Dowitcher and a Wilson’s Snipe.

Overall, we identified 38 species of birds today during our 1.2 mile nature walk.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated December 25, 2021