Saturday, April 7, 2012

More wading birds: American Avocets

An American Avocet, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
When I revisited the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ, on the day after Christmas, 2011, I saw a white spot sitting on a mud bank in the distance of one of the Preserve's larger ponds.  I couldn't make out what it was, even after zooming all the way in with my 500mm Sigma lens. Whatever bird it was, it was sleeping and had its head tucked under wing and had its back to my viewpoint. I finally gave up and moved on. A pond later I saw some long-legged white/black birds wading through the shallow water. I became excited because I knew immediately that they were American Avocets (pronounced A-vo-set) (Above), and they would be an addition to my Life List. However, they were extremely backlit by the sun and didn't make for very good photography. I took some photos and I decided that I would hike around to the opposite shore of the pond to try to get good light, hoping they would still be present.
A nice reflection of an American Avocet, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
More than a half an hour later,  I reached the other side of the pond and the Avocets had moved, but I found them at another part of the pond and they were even closer and in better light than I could have hoped for (Below).
An American Avocet, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
An American Avocet dipping its head in the water in search of a meal, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
An American Avocet sweeping its bill back and forth to stir up a meal, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
Not only are these Avocets beautiful birds, even in their non-breeding plumage (all these pics), but they are fun to watch as they sweep their long up-turned bills from side to side in the water, to stir up insects, crustaceans, and invertebrates, their favorite meals (Above).
An American Avocet, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
American Avocets are a western bird commonly found wading in shallow ponds from texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico spreading north to Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, the Dakotas and into south central Canada. They can also be found further west in Washington, Oregon, N. California and Nevada. I felt extremely luck to find this wader in Arizona where it can be seen in a small pocket in the souheastern corner.
An American Avocet, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
On my return trip out of the Preserve, I passed the mud bank where the I first noticed the "white spot." wich was no longer there, but I saw another American Avocet asleep (Below) in the water much closer to the shore I was on, and I concluded that the "white spot" must have been an American Avocet.
A sleeping American Avocet on one leg, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.

1 comment:

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