Thursday, November 1, 2012
Gilbert Riparian Water Preserve - 31 Oct 2012
After returning from Lake Havasu, we were getting several reports of a couple rare birds being sighted at the Gilbert Riparian Water Preserve; at least the 2 bird species are considered rare for Arizona. And since this birding hot spot is only about 6 miles from my home, I had to venture out to see what I could find. Sunday I struck out on both birds, but being tired and hot, I suppose that can be expected. So I ventured out again on Wednesday and also met one of my birding friends, Ellen, and she helped me locate one of the birds, a Chestnut-sided Warbler. This bird is a rare but casual migrant to Arizona and the bird has been hanging around for about a week now and it appears to be a first winter female. A male in breeding plumage would be ideal, but when it comes to a new life bird, one can't be too picky. First glimpses of the bird was in dense foliage on the back side of a mesquite tree and was good enough for an ID, but no photos. So we moved on down the path to the end and returned to find it flying across our path into another mesquite, but this time she became very cooperative and actually exposed herself on some branches and allowed nice photos. I guess patience can be a virtue at times and the photos below were worth the wait.
Of course this place is very well known for its water birds and even though the Black-necked Stilt is a fairly common wading bird, they are also one of the most photogenic birds and then when one captures a 3 photo segment of one it makes the photos a bit more interesting as if I captured a little bit of history that no one else captured. First the probing in the water, then the plunge, and finally the results of its tiny morsel.
Another unique find was a couple of Dunlin. While they are not considered rare, they are far less common than some of the other waders and they are usually considered a nice find and they can be tough to pick out in large flocks of other wading birds. Of course the Long-billed Dowitchers are always quite common at this location and the lighting was just right to allow a couple of photos. Along with that we also located at least 6 Wilson's Snipe, but they blended in with the mud so well they probably escaped the eye of most casual observers.
Wilson's Snipe-Look close, there are 2 in this photo.
As with any trip to this place, a Green Heron can almost always be found and this was no exception. This one was lying in wait for some minnows to swim by and become part of its meal that day.
Since this is fall with winter approaching, the waterfowl is plentiful on the ponds right now and one of the most elegant looking birds is the Northern Pintail. If you can call a duck elegant, this one has to near the top to fitting the description. Also had to snap a photo of a Green-winged Teal since it made itself available. Sometimes the teals are a bit skittish and really try to keep their distance.