Hello Friends and Family,

Riparian Preserve, Part 1

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Welcome to the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. What? When I first heard of the preserve, my first question was "What is that?". For those not familiar with the concept, their website says, "Riparian is the word to describe the habitat formed where a body of freshwater meets the land, such as the banks of a river, stream, or lake. While water is scarce in the desert, Arizona is home to many diverse riparian habitats. The Preserve is organized into various vegetative zones ranging from marshlands to native riparian and upland vegetation areas that represent the native riparian habitats of Arizona."

This specific preserve consists of seven water recharge basins (they look like lakes) that are filled on a rotating basis with treated effluent and allowed to percolate into the aquifer where it is stored for future use.

It is very much an urban park with more amenities than just small bodies of water. For instance, there is a play area for kids. I like the colored figures such as the birds carved into the walls. It's educational, without forcing it down kids' throats.

I began walking the closest trail with views of a beautiful urban lake.

But then a surprise — an observatory that is open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights (no charge) — a chance to look at the stars and planets. Way cool. I will have to schedule a visit soon.

Continuing on the trail I was led to a floating walkway where one visitor was feeding the ducks. It brought quite a hungry crowd. There is even a duck-on-duck squabble about who owns that piece of bread that the one duck is trying to paddle away with.

Nearby was a pigeon watching the feeding — but not really wanting to get wet among the ducks. I like the iridescent feathers on the pigeon's neck but I don't like their habit of pooping on my roof. Our HOA even pays for bi-annual roof cleaning plus the periodic services of a Hawk Guy — who has a couple of hawks he releases to scare the pigeons away from our roofs. Note that the slow pigeons get eaten.

In the shallows, these ducks have made an extension of the land with marsh grasses. These ducks are pretty smart.

Trivia question: What is a group of ducks called? I would have guessed "a flock of ducks". Interestingly, my Google search found more than forty terms such as "a little knob of ducks" and "a daggle of ducks". I think I'll stick with "a bunch of ducks".

Walking a bit further, I really began to relax — and maybe that is the best thing that this artificially created riparian can do for anyone. It is a much bigger area than I expected and I would have to plan a full day, bringing food and drink, to really see it all. Put it on the calendar.

This looks like a raven. The riparian is obviously home to birds of many species.

After I walked to the far end of the floating walkway, the ducks began to follow me. It appears that the lady who was feeding them bread had run out of free food. My guess was that a few of the ducks thought that I might have some food too — and it began a stampede.

I captured a good photo of two ducks paddling together. Unfortunately, this side of their bodies was in shadow and I could not effectively lighten them. So I experimented with a new AI feature in Photoshop that allows the user to substitute a similar pose from Adobe Stock to substitute for the image I actually shot. Pretty good result. I'll bet you would have never guessed that I used such an AI tool on the image of these birds. Watch out for what might come next. 😎

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com