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November 2, 2022
by Randall Greeley
Hike results: 1.5 miles.
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 also stocked with fish.
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.
A side trip to the stand of Saguaro cacti near the ramadas proved a reliable spot for sighting the Gila Woodpecker and today we are treated to a male and female pair.
Our walk continued into the recharge pond area, where numerous trails weave among the ponds.
We enjoyed seeing several American white pelicans winter visitors as well as a Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Green-winged Teal ducks, two types of herons, and Osprey raptor.
Our walk continued through the preserve where we spotted numerous hummingbirds fighting for territory and the Abert’s Towhee, which arguably should be the state bird over the cactus wren.
We finished our hike by recrossing the floating bridge back to our trail head parking lot at 11:20 AM. Overall, we sighted 43 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 November 2, 2022