I haven’t been visiting the Gilbert Water Ranch as often as I did in previous years, even though the weather has gotten much better recently. That’s partly because many of the birds I expect to be there hadn’t shown up yet, or were too far away for photos, or the views of the ponds have been obstructed by overgrown vegetation.
But my visit on December 12 was a lot better – more birds and better views. Plus, the weather was wonderful as a cold front brushed past AZ. The front brought pleasantly low temperatures and neat clouds – something we don’t see often here. Pond 5 looked so good with the early morning light and the reflected clouds that I grabbed the iPhone to record what I could of it; that’s the image above. The iPhone has an angle of view equivalent to a 35mm lens on a full frame 35mm camera, or what I could have taken with a 24mm lens on my Nikon D300 if I had brought along such a lens.
I had a chance encounter with a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk along the path between ponds 3 and 4, where the “cormorant tree” used to stand before it got taken out in one of this year’s storms. I didn’t notice it at first as I marveled at the absence of the tree, but got off a few frames before it took its unknown meal farther down the trail away from me.
Nikon D300, Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S with TC20E III (2x), 800, 1/100th second at f/8
The bird didn’t give me time to find a cleaner view but at least I was able to keep the hawk’s head unobstructed.
On the way out one of the resident Northern Mockingbirds selected a high perch so I took a couple shots of it as well. Nothing special, but even though I’ve got an abundance of other photos of this species I don’t like to walk past a photo opportunity.
Nikon D300, AF-s 300/2.8 plus TC20E III (2x), ISO 800, 1/2500th second at f/8
Overall, a pleasant couple of hours with a couple nice photos to show for it.