Saturday, March 31, 2012

Egret Weekend! Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

The Great Egrets show off why they are called "Great" next to the smaller Snowy Egret, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/24/2012.
I saw 75% of the North American Egret species in one spot last December. The only one missing was the Reddish Egret. The three I saw were Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets (Above) and Cattle Egrets (Below).
Cattle Egrets foraging in a grassy field of the Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/24/2012.
For the past few weekends, I have been extolling the merits of the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ.  Bird lovers must visit this preserve as it includes ponds, wetlands, mud flats, marshes, chaparral, wooded areas, flower gardens and much more that would attract birds in the middle of the Arizona desert.
A pair of Snowy Egrets resting, but keeping watch for a meal opportunity next to a pond, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/24/2012.
I spotted the Snowy (Above) and Great Egrets first,  as both species were hanging around a deep pond. The Snowys stayed in the same area, but the Great Egrets (Below) were spread out in many different areas of the Preserve.
A Great Egret strutting its stuff, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2012.

Great Egrets are the largest of the three at 39" long with a wingspan of over 4 feet. In the summer months, I often see Great Egrets up north in Northern Illinois and Wisconsin where I do most of my birding.
A Cattle Egret, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/24/2012.
Later I spotted a small stampede of about 6-7 Cattle Egrets (Above) foraging in the tall grass of an open field next to a mud flat. The first time I saw a Cattle Egret was 4 summers ago while visiting Hawaii. They will venture into southern and central Illinois, but I have not seen them in the Northern part of Illinois. But there are pockets in northeastern Wisconsin and North Dakota where they are commonly seen. cattle Egrets are the smallest of the North American Egrets growing to 20" n length with a 3 foot wingspan.
A Great Egret searching for its next meal, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/24/2012.
Tomorrow I will feature a series of photos of a Snowy Egret catching a fish.

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