Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Big Sit at Gilbert Water Ranch

Northern Shoveler unimpressed by Avocets in their breeding plumage.
Sunday morning was The Big Sit fundraiser for the Riparian Institute at GWR.  Led by Kathe Anderson,  our goal was to see as many species as possible while staying in one spot.  Kathe doesn't mess around when it comes to the rules of "Sitting", she actually marked out the area we were confined to, and we only included sightings from within that boundary.

Kathe Anderson marks out the boundaries of our Big Sit.
We had a great group of birders and an even greater group of birds!  A male Anna's perched nearby the whole time keeping an eye on the odd group of humans huddled together in the cold.  Lots of Northern rough-winged Swallows swooped overhead.  Most, but not all, American Avocets were showing off their breeding plumage.  Aerial highlights included an Osprey, a Cooper's Hawk, and an obviously molting Peregrine Falcon (sporting matching bare patches on the trailing edge of both wings).  Ann Givey, a great birder and DBG docent / volunteer, spotted the bird of the day - a beautiful Blue-gray Gnatcatcher!  My photo really doesn't do this bird justice.  His blue tones, black tail, and white eye-ring stood out dramatically on this cold gray morning.  I need to learn how to use a camera! 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila carulea) look at that white eye-ring!
 All of us birders benefit greatly from just the mere existence of the Gilbert Riparian Preserve (a.k.a. Gilbert Water Ranch) so we really should do whatever we can to help support it.  The Institute is always in need of funds and volunteers, to make a donation or to check out volunteer opportunities go to  http://www.riparianinstitute.org/member.cfm - or - come on out to the Feathered Friends Festival this Saturday, March 26th from 9 am - 2 pm.

The Feathered Friends Festival - Over 40 booths will host wildlife exhibitors and educational activities including games and crafts about insects, plants, water, reptiles, birds, and more. There will be food, music, birding experiences, and tours of the preserve as well. All ages are welcome. Donations are requested - $2 per person or $8 for families of 4 or more. See pics of the 2010 Festival HERE.

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