The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is located in the city of Gilbert, Arizona and listed as one of the top ten birding sites in the area. We visited on a weekend, not quite recovered from our excursion to the RV show in Phoenix. There is limited parking and the place was buzzing with families, dog-walkers, and fitness enthusiasts, so we only managed a quick look, and a few pics.
Situated on 70 acres, this water treatment facility has been adapted as a wildlife sanctuary providing recreational, educational, and research opportunities. There are seven bodies of water surrounded by easily accessed trails. Even on a day as busy as the one we visited, there was plenty of wildlife to view.
Like something out of a fairytale this parade of waterfowl drew the greatest crowds. I am assuming the large, white bird is a Snow Goose and the others her offspring, but I am open to correction. The colours are truly magnificent.
While we were photographing this entourage, something in a nearby bush kept making a curious sound, like nothing I’ve heard before. Unable to resist, I went in search of the culprit only to find a covey of Gambel’s quails. These entertaining and rather comical birds ran from my camera, plump little bodies darting in and out of the shrubbery, black plume bobbing on red-capped heads. The picture is not the best but does show the beautiful pattern on their flanks.
Unlike the quails, this Ruddy Ground dove was quite content to pose for me, giving me an up close and personal look at his lovely plumage.
Several wild rabbits appeared along the trails to the delight of the children present. At every turn there was something new to encounter and the sounds of chirps and bird song was mingled with the ooh’s and ah’s of the crowd.
As we were making our way back to the parking lot, we noticed a commotion up ahead. Two dogs on leashes were barking madly and straining to get at something – a rabbit, I assumed. Then this red-faced Muscovy strutted past the would be assailants and headed directly towards us, totally nonplussed by the whole thing, as if to say: “Just another day in the life of a duck.”
There are over four miles of trails at the Water Ranch, and we have only had a small taste, but it is enough that we will be returning soon.