I visited the Gilbert Water Ranch yesterday on October 10th for three hours of great weather and some awesome birding starting at about 10 A.M. Once the rain passed, I wanted to get some birding in and I also wanted to search for the Ruddy Ground-Dove.
It didn't take me long to relocate the RUDDY GROUND-DOVE, who was in the middle of a nice sized flock of INCA DOVES. I could see this dove being hard to find at times, and I observed it from a point that would probably be a reliable place to see it for birders who are wanting to see it. As Pete has posted, take the pond 4/5 trail south from the junction with the 3/4 trail. Follow that until you see the three heron platforms on the east side of 4/5. Once at this point, you are in the right area of where the dove was frequenting. The dove was hanging out at the very southeastern corner of pond 5. So, it was adjacent west of the heron platforms and across the path. From here, continue south on the 4/5 path a very short distance until the path turns to the west and is then on the south side of pond 5. Right after making this turn, you'll see one of the Water Ranch signs on the north side of the path that says: "Do not drink water or enter the basins, wet or dry". Walk up to the sign and look beyond it (without going into the basin) and you can easily get a view of the southeastern corner of the basin. The dove flock was feeding here the entire time I was birding, and the Ruddy Ground-Dove really stood out. This section of Pond 5 is lined with mesquites, which provide the doves with good habitat to retreat to quickly (there were several raptors flying through the area). The doves would usually flush to the mesquites closest to them, but would also sometimes flush to mesquites a little west of this sign. If the doves retreat, they often come right back to feed within a few minutes.
Despite it being later in the day when I first arrived at Gilbert Water Ranch, it was still very birdy and I managed to record 64 species. Other than the Ruddy Ground-Dove, other nice highlights included an OSPREY, NORTHERN HARRIER (hunting throughout pond 5 during the day and regularly scaring the doves), COOPER'S HAWK, a WESTERN SANDPIPER mixed in with a flock of Least Sandpipers, a VAUX'S SWIFT at fairly close range flying over pond 5 (my second in two days; photographed), BELTED KINGFISHER, a LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER, 2 RED-SHAFTED NORTHERN FLICKERS, a PEREGRINE FALCON, 2 ROSY-FACED LOVEBIRDS, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS, a male YELLOW WARBLER who was singing as if he was on territory (odd), a pair of BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS, BREWER'S, SAVANNAH, LINCOLN'S and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS; and a male LAZULI BUNTING. It was nice to run into Dave Pearson and Aaron on the trail.
It was a great day to be birding, and it had been awhile since I had been to Gilbert Water Ranch.
Ruddy Ground-Dove among the Inca Doves
Up close with the Ruddy
Where the Ruddy Ground-Dove has been hanging out
Female Green-winged Teal