Nevada - 1999

June 2nd through 8th, Las VegasJackass Penguins at the Flamingo Hilton
This was a business trip to Las Vegas to which I added a few vacation days.

Jackass Penguin, Flamingo Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, NevadaAs the plane was approaching Las Vegas, the pilot announced that the weather was cooler than usual. When I heard him say that, I figured that the temperatures would be in the 80s. I was really surprised when he said it was 63 degrees. In fact, the first two days there the temperatures set record low highs and it even snowed on Mount Charleston. We also had one rather rainy day - very unusual for this time of year.

The business part of the trip was successful. During this time I saw most of my usual Las Vegas birds  - House Sparrow, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Great-tailed Grackle, Northern Mockingbird, Jackass Penguin, Mandarin Duck, Black-necked Swan, Chilean Flamingo, and a few others. I did miss some of the "regulars" though.

The highlights were a hummingbird that I could not identify and a fight between two male House Sparrows. We were walking back to our hotel and I heard some bird noises in a bush – I went to investigate and saw the two sparrows going at it beak to beak. The fighting seemed rather intense. Finally one of them broke away and flew to another bush. I was surprised to see the other sparrow pursue it and resume the fight.

Wednesday, June 9th, Desert National Wildlife Range

Corn Creek

American Coot - Adult and immature at Corn Creek

Since I was tired from working the show and then staying late to pack up our equipment, I did not want to go anywhere too far today so I decided to revisit some places that I had gone to in 1997. I drove toward the Desert National Wildlife Range, north of Las Vegas, and enjoyed seeing the Joshua Trees and other desert plants along the way. The range was established to provide a sanctuary for the Desert Bighorn Sheep (not easily found in June; impossible for me). On my previous visit, I had gone to several different areas of the range and didn't see much in areas other than the recommended Corn Creek so I made that my only stop this time. This is an area with a natural spring and several ponds.

Saw a small flock of birds almost as soon as I got there and was surprised to see that they were Horned Larks. There was not too much action in the ponds, but I did enjoy watching an American Coot with some young swimming among the cattails. Some of the largest bullfrogs that I have ever seen were in the ponds. Really huge! Also saw Bullock's Oriole and Yellow Warbler, but flycatchers seemed to be the most abundant birds — Western Kingbird, Western Wood-Pewee, Say's Phoebe, and Ash-throated Flycatcher. The peace of the area was disturbed by a noisy group of tourists who did not stay on the path and did not seem to really appreciate the place. I let them pass and enjoyed the calm once again.

Wednesday, June 9th, Cold Creek

Roadside Wildflowers near Cold CreekJoshua Trees near Cold CreekI then headed for the Cold Creek area, another place I had previously visited. The road leading up to it passes a prison – it was shown in an otherwise forgettable movie that I came across on cable television after my first trip. Along the way, I noticed lots of beautiful yellow and orange wildflowers alongside the road. I drove toward the mountains which exhibited different colored striations. Many Joshua Trees, Ocotillo, and lots of scrubby stuff on the sides of the roads. The shape of the Joshua Trees made it look as though there were birds perched on them, but there weren't. (The last time I was in that area, I actually did see a hawk on one.)

Cactus flowers near Cold Creek

Cactus flower

Of course I enjoyed the wildflowers and cactus along the way (even if I couldn't identify them).

near Cold Creek

Cactus flowers near Cold Creek

wildflowers near Cold Creek

More at Cold Creek and ...

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Copyright 1999 Richard L. Becker