|Evening Grosbeak - Mt Charleston
Today's birding escapades would see us at Desert NWR, Spring Mountain and Mt Charleston areas. We will cover a range of altitudes from 2400 ft up to 7580 ft. We are hoping for a good variety of birds today and knowing Carl he has the planning down perfectly. Also Susan and John were able to rejoin the trip today as both were feeling much better.
Our first stop was right in Las Vegas at a private home that Carl had arranged ahead of time with the owners to visit. As we drove up the owners of the house were there to meet us and they were nice enough to invite us inside to view their backyard feeding area. Our target bird was Inca Dove and when we looked outside there were at least 10 doves on the ground and feeders. This small dove has a bright flash of rusty brown in the wings when it flies and is about 2/3 the size of a Mourning Dove.
Succeeding at our first goal of the day, we drove north to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge at Corn Creek. Driving on the entrance road to the visitor's center we brake when we spot a small bird perched on top of a sagebrush. We vault from the car and set up the scopes to view a distant but decent view of a Bell's Sparrow (a recent split from Sage Sparrow). I was hoping for a Sagebrush Sparrow which would have been a life bird but no luck. Glancing around to see what else was present I spot a thrasher also perched atop a bush. It turns out to be a LeConte's Thrasher.
At the visitor center we immediately discover a few Yellow-headed Blackbirds. It's always fun to hear this bird's raucous call and it's such a good looking bird. Also flying around was an Ash-throated Flycatcher and to our surprise we found a Brown-crested Flycatcher, a rare bird for Nevada.
|Brown-crested Flycatcher (R) and Yellow-headed Blackbird (L) (N Pulcinella)
|Ash-throated Flycatcher (NP)
|Suspected smaller version of Common Raven
|Another Whiptail Lizard
We hiked on a few trails around the refuge and found Anna's and Black-chinned Hummingbird, Western Kingbird, Lazuli Bunting, Pine Siskins (which was weird seeing them in the desert), Great-tailed Grackles, Lucy's Warbler and Bullock's Oriole.
|Bullock's Oriole (NP)
|Anna's Hummingbird (NP)
|Blue Grosbeak (NP)
|Western Tanager (NP)
|Olive-sided Flycatcher - notice white behind the wing (NP)
Next stop was Spring Mountain National Recreation Area. At the top of the mountain we were able to hear the buzzing w
ings of the Broad-tailed Hummingbirds. At least most of us were able to hear them. I kept pointing out the buzz as the hummers whistled by but John just couldn't pick it up. It must have been the altitude that contributed to the hearing loss. Violet-green Swallows were in good numbers and a few Black-headed Grosbeaks. Nick found two Hairy Woodpeckers and we got a lesson in how the western Hairy appears different than our eastern Hairy. See photo below.
|Hairy Woodpecker -no white spots on wings (NP)
|Cassin's Finch (NP)
Walking along the trail a little farther we hear Ruby-crowned Kinglets singing but then Nick yells again. This time he finds a gorgeous male Evening Grosbeak. Then there were three of them and they came down to the creek to bathe in the stream about 20 feet away. Awesome. This had to be the bird of the trip for some folks.
|Gary Becker showing Susan something while John studies the dirt
When we arrived at the parking area near the restaurant there were cop cars everywhere. We never found out what the problem was, but we just continued birding. At this elevation we finally got one of my favorite birds, Stellar Jay. The black head and breast and the gorgeous blue body makes this such a striking bird for me. Walking around the area a little more we find lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers (Audubon's race), Wilson's Warbler and then we found a fairly cooperative Townsend's Warbler but not cooperative enough for a picture. Then five Banded-tailed Pigeons fly over our heads. We would find them a few minutes later at a feeder.
|Band-tailed Pigeon - another mountain species
So after seeing this machine we decided to head home so that I could lose a little more money in the casino. One more day of birding tomorrow. We will visit Henderson Bird Viewing Area, Duck Creek, Calico Basin and Willow Springs in Red Rock Canyon, and finally Spring Mountain Ranch. Stay tuned.