On a recent vacation (which was not my first choice of vacation destinations), I chanced upon the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch Gilbert, Arizona, which is a beautiful sanctuary in the middle of the city. It certainly blew me away!
To my great surprise the town of Gilbert is somewhat progressive in some ways and back words in other areas. Because of the canal systems crossing the town someone had a great idea to make the upper banks of the concrete irrigation ditches a place where bikers, joggers, and walkers can move about the town uninterrupted by vehicle traffic. Where we were staying we were able to walk via canal to one of the most impressive bird sanctuaries in the country.
The Gilbert Riparian Preserve was created to utilize recycled waste water to create a community wetland and wildlife sanctuary for recreation, education, and research in Gilbert . The really great thing about this preserve is that it is in the middle of a desert town of Gilbert . Here is a nature preserve tucked between the Public Library and track-home neighborhoods. The website says there are over 200 species of birds here. We walked here nearly everyday of our stay to get some exercise and to see what we could see in the nature reserve. If someone were to drop you off here you would never know you were smack in the middle of urban sprawl. This is a really great place to walk, bird watch, or just sit and watch or read a book. We saw some feral cats sneaking about hunting birds and some people brought there dogs in off leash, so the bird are somewhat at risk especially during nesting with these kinds of situations. We saw lots of birds from little humming birds to Gray Herron. This little sanctuary made for a great stay.