Return to the Riparian Preserve

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“Have you seen the spoonbill who lives here?” asked a man with a camera.

“No, I’ve never seen the spoonbill, but I see you’ve brought the big gun,” I said, pointing to the huge telephoto lens on his camera.

The Gilbert Riparian Preserve is a popular local venue for nature photographers. I posted about it in 2016 and 2017, but I hadn’t been back there since, so the other day I drove to the 110 acre park that boasts a lake, seven ponds, hiking trails, a playground, and an observatory. I wasn’t expecting it to be so busy on a weekday; I was lucky to get a parking spot. The park was full of senior citizens and parents with young children. And also lots of ducks.

Water Ranch Lake
Water Ranch Lake
lotsa ducks
Lots of mallards.
feeding the ducks

When I was a little girl, we’d go to the local pond with a bag of stale bread and tear it up to feed the ducks. Bread is no longer a recommended duck cuisine. At the Preserve, only at the lake (not at the ponds) are you allowed to feed the ducks, and only birdseed, corn, and whole-grain cereal are permitted. (Most people, like the kids above, bring baggies of Cheerios.)

House sparrow
I think this little house sparrow wants in on the Cheerio action.
ring-necked ducks
Ring-necked ducks. See the white markings on their bills?
turtle sunning
A turtle sunning himself

As I wandered around from pond to pond, I found lots of things to look at and wonder about.

Cactus garden
A garden of saguaro cactus
memorial placard
No blossoms in this garden in January, but as I read the dedication, I realized it was planted in honor of a baby who died the day she was born.
bench

Benches appear throughout the preserve. This one had a placard that particularly touched me:

placard

In one of the ponds I noticed some wading birds fishing for food.

American avocet
An American avocet. See the curved-upward beak?
Black-necked stilt
A black-necked stilt

And further on, another turtle:

Turtle

I noticed a painted rock nestled in the V of a tree trunk:

painted rock

A gambrel’s quail sprinted across the trail in front of me, and I was barely able to snap a shot before it disappeared into the brush:

Gambrel's quail

I won’t let another four-and-a-half years pass before I make another trip to the Preserve. Maybe I’ll see you there. . .

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