Thursday, June 17, 2010

Back South through Utah and Nevada

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It was still early enough to have time for a quick loop around Bear River NWR, but nothing really notable presented itself. I ended up sleeping in a WalMart parking lot, which some allow, but I've noticed that more are forbidding this simple hospitality, even when the stores are open all night. And I always go in and spend some money.

Wednesday, May 19

Since it was still winter in the Uintas, and I still couldn't hook up with my friend in Park City, I just decided to head directly back into Nevada and hit some of the eastern and southern sites that had been skipped on the first pass. Quick means five or six hours of driving on secondary highways, which aren't really direct routes. Goal was Great Basin National Park, and I started at the south end along Snake Creek Road. Added quite a few tics, I show 71 species (not all new) for the 19th and 20th. Excellent birding there and more when I got to the campground.

The upper reaches were still snow-bound, but the lower campground was open. When I'd finished with Snake Creek, I went to the Visitor's Center, passing a property with a yurt and a distinct UFO theme, the space-suited guy on skis was a clue. Grabbed a map and paid for camping, only $6, since the water wasn't working yet. Met John B Free and his wife Melissa, serious birders and owners of the yurt. They invited me to sit with them, I did, and added another 5 tics including Pinyon Jays. Great folks. I stayed at the park, walked around the woods and roads, it was a beautiful place, filled with snow-melt rushing streams and gorgeous weather.

Thursday, May 20

Got up early and lucked into open restroom at the VC, so I could service my head, that is, shave and brush teeth with running water. I stopped at the Moore Sanctuary just down the hill from the park, spent almost two hours, kinda foothills scrub habitat, not a lot of birds but good variety and seriously worth poking around in. By then it was late enough for a little restaurant in Baker to be open. I little pricey for me, but good fresh food and I was the only customer so the waitress/cook was willing to talk. That's a rare luxury for my travels. Found a couple of copies of Granta that interested me for sale used as well.

I drove into Ely, got cellular service and made a couple of calls to renew registration and insurance while getting a load of laundry done. Then took off on a long drive south, introduced by a "no gas for 130 miles" sign. Not a good sign. It was pretty desolate and few birds, mostly ravens. Got to Pahrangat NWR, which was un-birdy as well, I guess the winter waterfowl had already moved out. Strange place, obviously run by someone obsessed with organization, lots of signs about what's allowed and not, how many vehicles in a space, etc. Well, at least they're staying busy.

I took a side route toward Moapa, since there was a refuge along there, but I couldn't find it and figured out finally that it was a protected space for Desert Tortoises. Maybe keep a few ORV off their backs. Then it was dismal Las Vegas traffic and vibe until I had looped around to the Mountains to the Northwest of the city and was close to the Corn Creek Field Station in Desert NWR. Slept in a National Forest off the side of a side road.

Friday, May 21

Once again, up way too early. I ended up driving about thirty miles past the Corn Creek entrance before finding a truck stop with coffee, then back to a very satisfying morning of birding. The Field Station has trails running through a good variety of habitats, and it's managed for maximum oasis attractiveness to things flying by. I picked up around 10 new tics, and saw several times that. Two of my favorite obscure southwestern species were there, Verdin and Lucy's Warbler. I lucked into a local birder, no name, who pointed out several critters that had escaped my attention, which helped.

There had been reports of some more desirable species at Ash Meadows NWR, which didn't look too far, but when a state as big as Nevada takes up but one page in the atlas, I always get in trouble. It was a long drive up there, a large refuge, and it turned out the birds were in places where I would have to spend a lot of time to reach, if I could even figure out how to get to them. A situation where I should have arranged with the reporting birder to meet up and get some guidance, after dedicating the whole morning and getting started early from a nearby overnight. I messed up on every count, only found two new tics when it could have been a half dozen.

And then it was a long way back to Las Vegas, which was necessary since Arizona was on the other side, and the route was two-lanes through small towns. It was after noon when I got to Sunset Park, and way too hot. Problem with Nevada that time of year is each good site should be first. By then it was close to a hundred degrees. Sunset Park could have been very good if anything was out playing in the mid-day sun. Not. So I went to WalMart for an overdue oil change, and then tried to find the birdy wetland the city keeps by a water treatment plant, but I arrived too late or the wrong day. It was closed.

Fall-back was to try Lake Mead which seemed really low, I guessed maybe 40 feet down. Tried several places recommended in the ABA Metro bird-finder, and got one tic, a Bonaparte's Gull at the marina, which had retreated about a half mile from the laid out parking areas. When I stopped at the Visitor's Center for a bird list and AC relief, the desk ranger said the lake was down 125 feet, and I got the impression that it would probably never return to full. Victim of Global Warming and Population Growth. By then I was fed up with urban Nevada and crossed Hoover Dam, armed and paranoid, into Arizona. Drove as far as Kingman before dark where I was rewarded with a Popeye's in a truck stop, beans and rice, and a decent parking place for a decent night's sleep.


Post a Comment

<< Home