Hitting Jackpot in Henderson

Having finally made my way through the Indy Zoo photo shoot, I can finally switch my attention to another photo trip that has been lingering out there way too long. Last November Linda and I headed out to our home away from home in the plains of Nevada. As in the previous time we hauled out our camera equipment with the primary intent of heading out into Red Rock. Turns out one of employees that works for Linda had lived out there. When she heard I was into bird photography she highly recommended we popped over to Henderson and make a visit to their Bird Viewing Preserve. Without hesitation this spot was added to the agenda figuring we could drop by on a late morning before packing up and moving out to the Red Rock staging area (translated.. one of our casino “finds” from a previous trip). The day we went was somewhat of an emotional roller coaster. There was high anticipation on the ride out, but as we neared the location (per the GPS) that started to taper quickly. Spoiled from the preserves around us in Illinois, I expected a mini forest – on hind sight there was no basis for that assumption seeing as how we were in a … DESERT. The GPS kept telling us we were headed in the right direction, but all that really stood out was industrial type buildings and a water treatment plant. You would think there would be a large lake or something if they had any hopes of pulling in waterfowl. Linda eventually found a small sign pointing to a road that wrapped back behind the industrial complexes. This brought us to a small building with exactly one other car in the parking lot. The coaster had just bottomed out.

With subdued enthusiasm we got all the gear ready and headed into the building where we were greeted by a gentleman who instructed us to sign in. Additionally we were required to sign a special form indicating we understood the rules and wouldn’t harm anything. Hmmmm – that at seemed a little odd. That form was basically good for one year before you had to fill it out again. This slight annoyance was forgotten soon enough when we discovered that the Preserve was FREE. In this day and age that is becoming rare. With the paperwork out of the way, we headed out back to see what this was all about. Remember that coaster comment? well it took a massive ride up a few minutes later. There were approximately 140 acres (according to their website) dedicated to the facility with a series of ponds carved around a nice walking path. Oh, and they did have some trees. I was floored, not sure my shutter finger ever left the camera for more than 10 minutes as we moved from pond to pond. That place was packed with birds I’ve never seen before and according to someone we met there, a current stopping point for some rare migrating birds. A personal jackpot in the land of excess. As with the Indy posts, these will take some time to get through, but as before I’ll sprinkle in some other topics to keep the non-bird enthusiasts entertained.

Starting out this series is another new entry to the Blog:

That would be the Geen-Winged Teal. From the maps I have (Audubon) it looks like their permanent residence extends down into Nevada, however, preferring the Canada regions during the summer breeding and the bottom half of the states during the Winter months. It does show that it migrates through Illinois but do not think I’ve encountered one to date.

Hit the jump to read more about this sharply colored bird

According to Audubon they are the last of the migrating ducks to reach their Winter habitats and the first to leave. This particular subject spent the time floating in the pond so we were unable to witness a supposed acrobatic (sharp unison turning) flight pattern. Noting a similarity to our own society, breeding pairs return to the females location and not the males. Kinda like our more traditional weddings.

Being the only duck that made it into the shot, it is hard to visualize the size parameters. According to the reference materials, it ranges in the 12-16 inch frame. The female is dark brown without the distinctive markings found in this male. There appears to be some discussion on how similar this bird is to the Common Teal and maybe even the Speckled Teal – Wikipedia’s synopsis of these similarities was a little beyond my comprehension.. er concern… I just like the “purdy” colors. For those keeping track, there isn’t a conservation status on them, but appears to be plenty enough to classify them as least concern.

So, this is the first set of many birds coming your way from Henderson. To say I was pleased with the advice from Linda’s coworker is a huge understatement. That shoot was a blast .. I’ll leave off Linda’s graphic term to spare the kiddies. As proof of that, we changed up our plans and headed out there again the next morning hoping to reap the benefits of an earlier start.

Stay tuned, more “winning” shots coming from our bird trip gamble.

2 thoughts on “Hitting Jackpot in Henderson”

  1. Pretty bird for a duck! I’ve never seen one. Makes me wonder what came first, the color teal or the bird.

    You should post your curren life-list of birds you’ve sighted (can’t remember what that’s called). Maybe there’s one not checked off that rings a bell with someone and you can get a tip on where they hang out. I guess an osprey is no longer unchecked…but I’m leaking a future blog post, I’m sure!

    Ron

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  2. Good Idea! would take me awhile to compile that, but would even be helpful when setting my bird wish list each year. Shhhhhh.. those posts will come soon enough.

    I leave you with two words – SNOWY OWL

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