Coyote, seen along the approach track to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge
After an easy day yesterday we did a full days birding around Las Vegas today, concentrating on two sites – the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and the Spring Mountain range. The Desert NWR is the largest wildlife reserve outside Alaska, incorporating 1.5 million acres of desert – we explored about five, concentrating on the oasis of Cottonwoods and scrub, close to the visitors centre. This oasis is fed by a spring which brings water to the surface year-round and, inevitably, attracts birds on migration. The ‘orchard’, adjacent to the spring, was alive with birds. Having spent the morning down in the desert, with temperatures approaching 80F, we drove up to the ski village, on the slopes of Mount Charleston, where temperatures were in the mid-40’s – quite a change! The summit is at nearly 10,000 feet and there was still snow on the tops. The habitat consists mainly of Bristlecone Pine – apparently one the longest-lived life forms on Earth, and has a distinct bird population.
The Coyote helpfully flushed a number of birds from the desert brush include this this Le Conte’s Thrasher – an American Tick!
On the small pond created by the spring at the Desert NWR was an Eared Grebe – we know it as Black-eared Grebe
and here he is swimming under water
Up in the mountains we came across Townsend’s Solitaire – last seen at Big Bend, Texas
and this finch, we originally thought might be Purple but which in the end concluded was probably Cassin’s – nice bird all the same