The Ripirian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert is a great place for birding and photography. The Gilbert Water Ranch, for short, has seven ponds used to reclaim waste water, recharge the aquifer and is the perfect setting for all types of shore and water birds. It's also just a nice place to walk through and enjoy the desert.
There was no shortage of species on my trip in early January: Canada geese, gadwall, Northern shoveler, Northern pintail, American avocet, snowy egret, great egret, pied-billed grebe, spotted sandpiper, black-necked stilt, Northern harrier, red-tailed hawk, etc... There also were some rare birds in the area like a white-throated sparrow that had birders excited to see it.
Ring-necked Duck (male)
Ring-necked Duck (female)
This was my first effort photographing birds. I used all the lens power I could muster and was surprisingly pleased with the results. A 2x converter on my 80-200mm lens was plenty of power for moderately close birds. Anything very far away was still pretty small in the viewfinder. Shooting came with a bit of a learning curve I discovered. My 2x converter had me focusing manually, but I found my groove after a while. There were plenty of other photographers there too. Some really nice glass had me drooling.
I really enjoyed the morning light. It was very nice as it reflected off the water on the birds. This kind of photography is something I'll have to do more often. I already love birds and really enjoyed the new challenge and shooting something out of my comfort range. It's always good to try new things.