Earlier this week, I met up with Janet from This, That, and the Other Thing on her stomping ground near Phoenix. Janet is a photographer with an eye for the unique, often employing wit with her daily posts. After chatting a bit at a coffeehouse, we visited the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. Janet has shared many lovely images from the Preserve on her blog, and I wanted to see it for myself.
The 110-acre Preserve was developed in 1999, using waste and reclaimed waters. According to their web page, approximately 298 species of birds have been identified on the site, and many insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals have found homes there as well. The area also offers an ethnobotanical garden, a paleontology dig site, gardens for pollinators including a hummingbird garden and butterfly garden, plus a state-of-the-art observatory and hilltop outdoor classroom. It is a photographer’s paradise, an opportunity for up-close learning, and a sweet respite from the concrete and hurried pace of the nearby metropolitan area.
The sky was overcast and the temperature in the low 80’s, making it a perfect day for strolling around the lovely sanctuary. (That evening, we had snow in the northern part of the state, so it was a quick, warm escape for me!) We saw many rabbits and birds. In fact, I’ve never seen so many bunnies & mourning doves in one place. There were also fish, turtles, honey bees and what we believed to be plump bumblebees. And the colors of the blooming plants and trees ranged from yellow to orange, red, pink, and fuchsia. If your image of the Sonoran Desert is drab and lifeless, the Preserve will forever change that.
The number of bird species was astounding, and Janet commented that there weren’t nearly as many as usual. There were various ducks, cormorants, egrets, pelicans, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, sparrows, noisy grackles, and some birds we couldn’t identify.
One area of the Preserve hosts tall-growing saguaros, surrounded by rocks, flowers, and other cactus plants. We stopped there for a long while to watch birds flying in and out of the holes they had fashioned in the cacti to serve as entryways to their homes. I was surprised by the number of woodpeckers; I had seen them only on trees.
There were other areas near the water where a cotton-like substance covered the plants and ground. It was so thick in places, it looked like a white, hairy mold. And then we noticed little pieces floating through the air. It was falling from the trees above.
After admiring an abundance of natural beauty and snapping a considerable number of photos, we went for a delicious vegan lunch. It was great seeing Janet again and visiting one of her favorite sanctuaries of the Southwest. We talked of possibly meeting in the sublime red rocks of Sedona for our next get-together.
The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch kindled our fascination and brought us lots of smiles. The beauty in this part of the desert is unique and unforgettable. I hope you’ll enjoy the photos here, and check out Janet’s blog for more.
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