Tag Archives: Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

In Search of the Great Blue Heron, Part II

In Search of the Great Blue Heron, Part II

Eighteen months ago, I posted about a trip I took to the Gilbert Riparian Preserve, hoping to spot a great blue heron. I recently went back to try again.

Last time, I had a severe case of camera envy. I carried my little point-and-shoot camera, while other birders had DSLR jobs with huge telephoto lenses. This time, I brought my Canon EOS Rebel T5 with a big zoom lens, a starter DSLR I’m still learning how to use.


Realize we’re in the Sonoran desert, although I suspect that the saguaro cactuses below were planted by landscapers.


But most of the scenery looks like a forest glade.


The Preserve includes seven small lakes, home to all sorts of aquatic birds, like mallards.


And sandpipers?! I thought sandpipers were ocean beach birds. I guess not necessarily. (Click on the small images to enlarge.)

I think this is a snowy egret:

And I think this might be my great blue heron (or maybe it’s another kind of egret; anybody know?):


In Search of the Great Blue Heron

In Search of the Great Blue Heron

To make my physical fitness efforts more palatable, I often take my camera on my walks. The Riparian Preserve in Gilbert, AZ, is located a half-hour drive from my home. The ponds there attract all sorts of waterfowl. One day last month I decided to walk around the Preserve, hoping to get a shot of a great blue heron.


The 110 acres of the Preserve contain eight bodies of water.


The Southeast Regional Library rises from the opposite shore of Water Ranch Lake.


The solid land is veined with trails through desert vegetation. A half-mile concrete loop encircles the lake. Other gravel trails wind among the ponds. Several gardens of wildflowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Education is one of the purposes of the Preserve.  I shared the park with several groups of elementary school children on field trips, families with small children, hikers, and people who, like me, brought their cameras in hopes of capturing creatures with their lenses.DSC01058

An observatory on the grounds is open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights.


Spoiler Alert: even though several species of heron are commonly sighted year-round at the preserve, I didn’t see any. I saw mostly ducks, geese, sandpipers, and rabbits (I posted the rabbit photos on Easter Sunday).DSC01023

Desert trees of all varieties provide homes and food for different species of birds.



I can’t tell what these birds below are, with their heads tucked under their wings. I came back a while later, and they were still sleeping.DSC01050

I think these may be snowy egrets, but I couldn’t get close enough to tell for sure. I caught a severe case of camera envy, me with my little Sony Cyber-shot, surrounded by people with tripods holding impressive cameras with honking telephoto lenses.



Photographs © by Andrea R Huelsenbeck 2016