Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gilbert Water Ranch

1. dream bird-kab Great Egret 11-12-12
When Chris Rohrer and I arrived at Gilbert Water Ranch early on the morning of November 12 we started seeing birds before we even parked the car. While I have been to Gilbert Water Ranch near Phoenix when I lived here before this was Chris’ first time to visit and my first time being here since my return to Arizona in August. The excitement only mounted as we loaded up our gear and Chris started snapping away at birds before we even left the parking lot.
2. Chris r-kabAs I mentioned before, Chris has got me started with “chasing” birds, which means we he keeps track of the Rare Bird Alert and calls me up to go see if we can spot the rarity while it is in town. I, on the other hand, am more of a lister and I submit my lists to eBird. I have gotten Chris interested in eBirding, so now he is starting to carry a pen and a pad like I do and keep track of all the birds he sees. However, it isn’t long before that pad goes away and he is taking pictures!
3. NOMO-kab As we headed down one of the trails we were greeted by a Northern Mockingbird warming itself in the early rays of sunshine.
4. mud flats-kab We headed for the eastern ponds where we found blackbirds taking an early morning bath!
5. NOPI-kab Northern Pintails were the main species of ducks we saw but if you look closely you will see a few Green-winged teal as well.
6. dowithcher-kab Near the napping ducks we found our first long-billed dowitcher.

7. dowitchers-kab Soon we found more!
In the first 20 minutes of being here we saw 20 species of birds. There were more than that but we couldn’t look and count fast enough!
8. N pintail-kab I think the male Northern Pintail is one of the handsomest ducks around.

9. snowy-kab Snowy Egrets put on quite the show as well!

10. BN stilt-kab Black-necked Stilts were everywhere,

11. osprey-kab But this Osprey eating a fish was most impressive!

12. osprey-kab Osprey at Gilbert Water Ranch 11-12-12

13. GBHE-kab You can pretty much count on seeing a Great Blue Heron here.
We saw several.
14. ruffled-kab While the Snowy Egrets are pretty easy for me to identify, it’s identifying peeps that always gets my feathers in a fluff! And there were plenty of them! Peeps are the generic name for small shore birds that pick through the shallows hunting for prey. In winter plumage they are even more challenging and I will be the first to admit that I am a novice at shorebird ID!
15. peep species-kab Peeps,

16. peep sp-kab peeps,

17. peep speceis-kab and more peeps!
I was able to identify a few spotted sandpipers, a few snipes, and some yellowlegs, but the rest are a mystery to me! I know there were probably Least Sandpipers out there as well as a possible Dunlin or two, but I need more practice to be sure.
18. anna's hummingbird-kab So, on to easier species, like this male Anna’s Hummingbird we found in a thicket along one of the paths.
19. BCN heron-kab We also found a roosting Black-crowned Night Heron…

20. green heron-kab …and a hunting Green Heron!

21. footprints-kab On the edge of the same pond where we saw the green heron we found these footprints in the mud. It looks like someone else was hunting here too!

22. WC sparrow-kab White-crowned Sparrow showing off his crown.
We saw and heard White-crowned sparrows everywhere!
23. mouse-kab This little mouse was not at all shy about coming out on the path.

24. inca dove-kabChris and I were both pleased to find an Inca Dove. They are much smaller than the Mourning dove and have an overall scaly appearance. While juvenile mourning doves can look a bit scaly as well, they will always have those black spots on their wings. And, when a Inca Dove flies it shows its rufous under-wings!
25. ducks-kab One of these ducks is not like the others! Can you tell which one?
More on that tomorrow!
26. coot-kab American Coot
We also saw coots everywhere.
27. snipe-kabCamouflaged Wilson’s Snipe
Before we left we checked out the mudflats again. We spent about 4 hours at Gilbert Water Ranch but saw the majority of the birds during the first hour of our arrival. After that we added species sporadically, sometimes wandering down paths without seeing anything and then, Bingo, a new bird species would show up. In the end I counted 53 species of birds here on this day. Chris counted 55 since he saw 2 species that I didn’t, a Say’s Phoebe and an Orange-crowned warbler.
28. Eusrasian collared dove-kab Near the parking lot again I found this Eurasian Collared Dove.

29. fly away-kab When it flew away I knew it was time for me to fly as well.
By now it was early afternoon and Chris and I were both hungry. We got back on the road and headed south before the evening rush hour began. We finally stopped in Casa Grande to grab a bite to eat. There were blackbirds and doves everywhere and we counted birds in the parking lot of the restaurant we ate at, as well as at a gas station where we stopped to refuel. We wanted to see if we could find the monk parakeets that use to be seen in Casa Grande and Chris thought he heard them behind the gas station. So, while I finished pumping gas he rushed  off to find them. To our amazement he found an African Gray Parrot and another parrot species on the rooftop of an abandoned building! He said he could hear the monk parakeets but we never saw them. We took a drive on the road past the front of the house and it looked like some kind of wildlife sanctuary. Perhaps the parrots had escaped form there. Either way, we never counted any parrots or parakeets on our eBird count.
30. coyote-kab Before we left town I drove Chris over to the Dave White Golf course which is another eBird Hotspot. In past years a Northern Jacana has showed up here at one of the ponds. It was one of the first birds Gus and I photographed with our new camera in 2008. I was just new to eBirding then. the sun was just setting as we arrived. There were a few mallards in the ponds, a few Yellow-rumped warblers in the trees, and mourning doves everywhere! We saw a red-tailed hawk land on a snag, and then the coyotes started to howl very close to us. Chris and I turned our heads towards the sound and stood transfixed as first one and then another coyote ambled across the green golf lawn to join the pack on the other side!
31. sunset-kab Sunset at Dave White Golf Course in Casa Grande, AZ 11-12-12

Birds seen at Gilbert Water Ranch on November 12, 2012
American Widgeon 6 Cinnamon Teal 2 Green-winged Teal 75
Mallard 50 Northern Pintail 100 Ring-necked Duck 10
Northern Shoveler  100 Lesser Scaup 2 Gambel’s Quail 8
Pied-billed Grebe 2 Neotropic cormorant 1 Great Blue Heron 4
Great Egret 6 Snowy Egret 10 Green Heron 3
Black-crowned Night Heron 1 Turkey Vulture 3 Osprey 2
Northern Harrier 1 Cooper’s Hawk 1 Sora 1
American Coot 40 Killdeer 10 Black-necked Stilt 20
Greater Yellowlegs 1 Least Sandpiper 100 Long-billed dowitcher 50
Wilson’s Snipe 6 Eurasian collared-dove 18 White-winged Dove 1
Mourning Dove 12 Inca Dove 6 Anna’s Hummingbird 10
Costa’s Hummingbird 2 Belted Kingfisher 1 Gila woodpecker 6
Northern Flicker 1 American Kestrel 3 Prairie Falcon 1
Black Phoebe 3 Northern Rough-winged swallow 6 Verdin 25
Northern Mockingbird 8 Curve-billed thrasher 6 European Starling 6
Yellow-rumped Warbler 24 Abert’s Towhee 12 White-crowned Sparrow 50
Red-winged Blackbird 6 Great-tailed Grackle 36 House Finch 20
Lesser Goldfinch 4 House Sparrow 50


  1. Great shot of the coot! I've taken plenty of photos of them but none ever showed detail like that! I don't get to see dowitchers often and those Stilts are snazzy looking birds that I've never seen.Looks like a great place.

    1. Larry, it is and I hope you get to visit one day!

  2. Wow that was a busy day! I bet you were tired. Great shots! I did not realize that the green heron stalked like that, pretty scary looking.

    1. Kathryn I was very tired but happy by the time I got home. And the green heron looks like a dinosaur to me when it does that!

  3. Wow! This qualifies as an 'epic' post on an epic day for sure!
    Great stuff Kathie; you're photos and narrative are always such a treat to behold.

    I really dig that wispy Snowy Egret. I think that's my favorite shot of the bunch. Those cirrus feathers make the bird seem just as much a part of the smoky ether as the elegant predator it is.

    Very cool.

    1. Laurence, Thank You for such a wonderful and generous comment! I sure wish you could have joined us that day.

  4. A very successful trip Kathie with some amazing images you have taken.
    The Great Egret is a special shot.
    You see, us bird photographers cant be bothered with lists really, we just keep shooting.{:))

  5. Hi Kathie

    With parrots, coyotes etc. you had quite an exotic trip. I really liked the photo of the pintail as you said they are a very beautiful ducks.


  6. No pad of paper for me, just the camera. I can look them up later. And I always have a lot of looking as I wouldn't have IDed half these birds. All your captures are wonderful but those two egret shots with the wonderful light through the feathers are amazing. Looks like it was a bit windy. I so enjoy going birding with you two even from far away and I still plan to come down sometime. But right now I have to deal with more truck problems.

    1. Gaelyn, oh No! I hope you get it all fixed and can come down in the new Year! Dawn will be here then. I am so hoping we can all get together!

  7. HI Katie...Wow impressive list from your visit!!
    Wonderful images, but I especially like the bad hair day of the Snowy Egret : }!
    Important the eBird counts!!

  8. What a terrific post Kathie! Some day I hope to make it back to AZ and go to the Water Ranch.

    1. Mia, I hope you can come back as well! It would be great to meet you!

  9. Wow, what a great list of birds. It must be a great place for birding. Love the photos and a great post, Kathie!

  10. Love the egret and osprey shots! What a wonderful place with such great variety. I bet you had a terrific day there :-)

    1. Mary, we did! We exhausted every possibility and explored every path!

  11. Great post, Kathie. You saw so many birds and such a variety! Wow. Love all your pictures as always.


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.