Riparian Preserve Reprise

Hundreds of thousands of people called “snow birds” migrate to Arizona in the winter. In moving to Phoenix, we expected to find real “snow birds” wintering in the Valley of the Sun. We didn’t anticipate shore birds and waders and waterfowl in the desert.

The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ is one of the best places to photograph aves wintering water birds in the Sonoran Desert. The following photos were taken at the preserve in February 2018. My previous post featured land birds from the Preserve.

As so often happens, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs were found together, with the Leaser in the foreground.

Lessder and Great Yellowlegs 2Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs 3Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs 1

Least Sandpipers were plentiful.

Least Sandpiper RP 1Least Sandpiper RP 2Least Sandpiper RP 3

Black-necked Stilts are so perfectly suited for wadding.

Black-necked Duck 0



There were a number of ducks, but not the variety one might expect in February. We did see the ever-present Ring-necked Ducks.



And we found Mallards.

Mallard Female RPMallard Male RPI love the coloration of the Green-winged Teal so much I’m consider using the color combination in a website I’m designing.

Green-winged Teal RP 1Green-winged Teal RP 2Northern Shovelers were also present.

Northern Shoveler RP 1Northern Shoveler RP 2Northern Shoveler RP 3_0320

Given they were sleeping the entire time we were there, I had to wonder if the Ruddy Ducks had arrived the previous night.


Domestic waterfowl were also found, starting with the unmistakable Muscovy Duck.

Muscovy 1


I think is a Pomeranian Goose. If it is another species, I’d appreciate clarification. It was hanging out with domestic ducks.


It was good to find Pied-bill Grebes.


As it was to see American Coots.

American Coot RP 3


A Snowy Egret kept its distance from me.

Snowy Egret RP 3


A broader view of one of the shallow ponds at Riparian Preserve. The flock is made up of Least Sandpipers. Green-winged Teal are in the background. I think there are also Cinnamon Teal in the background, but I’m open to correction on that ID. A Mallard and Common Grackle are in the foreground. A Killdeer waded out of range of the camera lens just before I snapped the photo.

Riparian Preserve 2018

Holbert Trail Hike

Yes, I know. South Mountain Park in Phoenix lacks the memorable profile of Camelback Mountain or colorful history of the Superstition Mountains.

What it lacks in branding, South Mountain Park makes up for in pure size. The largest municipal park in the United States, it consists of three mountains. It covers more than 16,000 acres with 51 acres of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

My last day in Phoenix this winter, I hiked the Holbert Trail in South Mountain Park. A five mile round trip, it gains close to 1,300 feet in elevation.

While the elevation change got the heart rate up (especially dragging along camera equipment), there were no severe drop offs that caused the heart to race.


The “summit” of the Holbert Trail is not one of the most picturesque in Phoenix.

IMG_0131IMG_0138The trip down revealed some quality vistas and petroglyphs.