July 13, 2017

My camera was returned from Mack Worldwide Warranty on July 12, 2017.  They didn’t take much time fixing it because it pretty much worked when I sent it in and I really just wanted to make sure everything was okay inside and hoped they would do something about the zoom lens’ front cover which was smashed flat when I fell.  My camera and I will always have scars from the moment I tripped and fell down 4 concrete steps, but we will be ok.  Just a little bit scraped and bruised.  A good lesson for all, never assume concrete is level with a pea gravel path.

I awoke fairly early, but still didn’t make it to Fort Harrison State Park before 8 AM.  However, I parked near the playground on Shafter Road with plans to walk around the area before heading toward the Walnut Plantation Trailhead. It was a beautiful morning and I saw several birds that gave me a great opportunity to test out my newly returned camera. Here are the results, enjoy!

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July 1-8, 2017

While waiting for my Nikon Coolpix P900 to be repaired I used my old Canon Powershot SX50 HD camera.  It took a little getting used to, but with some practice I was able to capture a few good shots. 

On July 1st we visited Columbia, Kentucky for a day of reuniting with cousins, siblings and nieces and nephews.  It was a fun day all around.  I was so excited when we pulled into our cousin’s farm because there was a big old owl sitting on a fence post just waiting for its close-up.  I quickly rushed out of the car, camera in hand, and snapped a photo before I realized it was a plastic owl meant to scare away rodents and other birds from the garden.

I ventured out during the next week or so to practice a little more with the Canon camera.  I chose to walk a few different trails at the Fort Harrison State Park located in Indianapolis, IN on the northeast side of town.  If you’re ever visiting this area, I highly recommend Fort Harrison State Park for walking in nature.  There are two types of trails, paved and unpaved.  Since my fall, I am walking on the paved trails mostly so I don’t trip and re-injure my knee or shoulder, but take the more natural trails and you’ll be happy you did.  Old growth forests with trees as tall as skyscrapers, mossy undergrowth, small streams and ruins from another time are yours for discovering.

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June 25-30, 2017

Well, I’ve returned for the summer to central Indiana and have spent a few days getting acclimated to my now very humid environment.  I arrived on June 24 and my first walk at Fort Harrison State Park was on June 25 with my husband.  I have stated in the past that it isn’t always easy to be a bird watcher with a camera when you are going on a walk or hike with someone who really doesn’t care much about the details, but wants to experience the entire picture all at once.  Well, on this particular day, my husband seemed to take an interest in what I wanted to do (photograph nature) and even pointed out a few things I needed to capture in digital media.  We walked on the Harrison Trace Trail, a paved 2.5 mile loop that begins and ends at Delaware Lake in Fort Harrison State Park.  Here are some of the beautiful sights we encountered on our walk.

I went out by myself on the June 27th and walked along the Walnut Plantation Trail in Fort Harrison State Park. It was a bit late (mid-afternoon) so not many birds or animals were out doing what they do best. So it was a nice walk in the shade with a few photo ops on the side.

The next morning, June 28 I took a bag of trash to the dumpster and on my way home I walked around the pond at Memorial Park just across the street from our apartment.  The killdeer were making an awful fuss and I noticed ahead of me on the trail about 4 Killdeer chicks.  I wished I had had my binoculars, but decided then I would come back out with my camera for a few good shots of Indiana Killdeer babies.  As I approached the entrance to my apartment building there was a Cedar Waxwing fledgling sitting on top of a boxwood shrub trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.  I added that chick to my list of photos I would be taking in just a few minutes.

I picked up my camera and headed back outside for photo ops.  The Cedar Waxwing was still on the top of the shrub so I snapped a few photos then headed for the pond.  There is a boardwalk style viewing platform on the side of the pond closest to the street, so I decided I would walk out there and use my zoom lens to capture the baby Killdeer on the other side of the narrow pond.  Unfortunately, I tripped and fell head first down 4 cement steps on my way to the platform.  No, I was not looking through my camera lens or not paying attention.  I have bifocals and the path to the steps is pea gravel. I looked down to step onto the concrete step and assumed it was level with the gravel. It wasn’t. I ended my fall upside-down and resting on my head and right shoulder. I was sore and scraped up but really didn’t feel as bad as I should have. My camera was smashed flat on one side of the zoom lens housing.  It seemed to still work, but really looked bad.  I hobbled home, cleaned and bandaged my cuts and scrapes and called Mack Worldwide Warranty to find out how to send my equipment in for repairs.  Thank goodness I had the foresight to purchase the warranty. And, thank goodness I also had the foresight to bring one of my old Canon Powershot cameras back to Indiana with me as a back-up in case anything happened to my Nikon.

Here are the photos I took of the Cedar Waxwing chick.

My Nikon is heading on its way to New Jersey for repairs.  We have a family reunion on July 1st, so I am now back out at the Walnut Plantation Trailhead ready to reacquaint myself with the Canon Powershot SX50 HS. It is a lot different than my Nikon Coolpix P900.  To start, it has 50x zoom and the Nikon has 85x zoom. The Nikon has a bird watching mode, the Canon does not.  I am using the best resolution I can on the Canon camera which is no different than when I use my Nikon. This is going to take some getting used to because I need to be closer to the subject to get the same quality photo I have been achieving with the Nikon camera.  Also, the Canon appears to have a mind of its own and sometimes focuses on the wrong part of the image I am trying to capture. After a morning with this Canon camera (which I used to love when I first bought it) I can hardly wait to get my Nikon back from the repair shop.  Sorry Canon, but the Nikon Coolpix P900 has spoiled me. Here are some photos I took while walking along the Walnut Plantation trail the morning of June 30, 2017.

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June 13, 2017

We have been warned and warned about the coming ultra hot temperatures for the next few weeks so I’m taking advantage of a cool morning before they arrive.  I am walking at the Clark County Wetland’s Park.  I actually got here early (7:30 ish).  Instead of my usual route, I have decided to go straight up the middle of the park and loop around to the west then cross back through the middle and head towards Vern’s Pond and the Las Vegas Wash.  Good decision on my part as I was blessed with a new bird for my life list and several old friends.  When I got home, I noticed a Hooded Oriole feeding at my hummingbird nectar feeder.  I just happened to be outside with my camera and got some very good photos of him. Here are some favorite photos from today. Enjoy!

June 13, 2017 Clark County Wetlands Park

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June 7, 2017

Another scorcher, but there was a little breeze predicted so I decided to go to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. I got there a little late (close to 9 AM) and armed with 2 bottles of water, a hat, sunscreen, my camera and binoculars I set out to explore the wildlife hanging around the ponds.  I spent about 2 hours at the preserve and by the time I left the temperature was close to, if not above 100 degrees.  I should have arrived much earlier in the morning, but for some reason, I just cannot get out my front door before 8 or 9 AM these days.

There were still several birds hanging around the ponds when I got there and to my surprise many had young with them.  I saw American Coot chicks, Pied-billed Grebe chicks, American Avocet chicks, and several species of ducks with ducklings.  Not a bad morning at all despite the heat.  Here are my photos from the day.  Enjoy!

June 7, 2017 Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve

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June 4, 2017

This day had promise, it was going to be hot no matter where I was, but it would be less hot north of Las Vegas so I hopped in my car and drove north on I-95 to the Corn Creek Road exit and spent some time at the Desert Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center, known as Corn Creek.  I the not so distant pass, this place was a park of sorts.  There’s an orchard with pomegranate and other fruiting trees (probably apples). There’s a small fresh water spring that runs through the property.  There are trails, an old log cabin with history of its own and plenty of remnants of the area’s past life.  There is a wire fence connected to a fence post where once a gate stood that kept the Big Horn Sheep at bay.  There’s a placard with a story of one tame Big Horn Sheep that used to love to stand on visitor’s cars. This is a nice place to visit and a great place to stop off if you’re planning on driving further east into the mountain range that is known as the Las Vegas Range and/or the Sheep Mountains. 4 wheel drive is recommended past the red stop sign at the cross roads.  I have never ventured farther east than the Visitor’s Center.

This place is also home to something called a “Refugarium”, a rather large concrete building with algae covered windows that you can peer into and maybe, just maybe spot one of many Devils Hole Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) that have been rescued from the little hole in Armagosa Valley that can never sustain any more than around 100 pupfish. This is man’s way of trying to preserve a species for future generations.  The conditions inside the large fish tank aka refugarium are identical to the Devils Hole. I guess someday some of these fish will be used to help repopulate the dying Devils Hole population west of Pahrump, Nevada.  Only time will tell, but probably if you ask the rangers at the Visitor’s Center they will too.

I spent a few hours wandering around the grounds of the Visitor’s Center and met a few other more serious birders along the way.  I heard many different species of birds, but was only able to capture a few on film.  I also added a new butterfly to my list of bugs, the Great Purple Hairstreak and saw several male Yellow-backed Spiny Lizards too.  Here are my photos from the morning at Corn Creek.  Enjoy!

June 4, 2017  Corn Creek Visitor’s Center

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May 27, 2017

My last bird watching expedition in the month of May 2017. I took a stroll through the Clark County Wetlands Park this morning and went the opposite direction of my normal route.  I was hoping to capture some different lizards and possibly a snake on the boulders beside the paved trail leading away from the Nature/Visitor Center.  I did see a rather handsome and large Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard doing his best to impress some rather small females, but no snakes.  As I continued my walk I came upon the large iron bridge that crosses the wash and decided to cross it and look at how the construction of a new water channel further north was coming along.  They’ve cleaned out the area of the wash that passes under this bridge so you can see quite a large area of shallow water pooling on the north side and two rather quick rapid filled channels draining to the south.  This are always seems to have a lot of garbage in the waterway. It is hard to get good photos of birds and other animals without a red solo cup or trash-bag in this photos.  Since it has been so windy in our area lately, I guess this is what happens when personal trash isn’t secured before putting it out for the garbage collectors.

I continued my backwards walk to the north and west around the park.  When I got to the first of 3 ponds, I wasn’t able to stop and explore because a homeless person was sleeping on a bench in the shelter/bird blind.  I didn’t want to wake them so I continued around the path.  A few hundred yards further there was a Bewick’s Wren sitting in a mesquite tree singing to its heart’s content.  I was able to get several nice photos before it flew so far away my camera wouldn’t pick it up among the treetops. 

The next pond I came to there was a single Pied-billed Grebe enjoying the tranquility of the late morning. A Great-tailed Grackle was rustling in the reeds on the other side of the pond at the same time.  It squawked and the grebe dove.  I didn’t stick around much longer. 

As I continued my walk I came to the final pond (usually the first I encounter) and got several photos of the growing Common Gallinule chicks.  They are large and their down is quickly turning into more adult looking feathers.  This morning they were on the other side of the pond with their mother who was watching from the reeds above.  The two chicks were trying to climb onto a rock to get closer to mom.  As soon as they were up in the reeds, she jumped in the pond and started for the other side.  They tried to follow, but she left them in her wake.  They caught up to her just as she was darting through the reeds and into cover away from my camera lens’s zoom capabilities.  It was certainly a fun family interaction to watch.

Here are several photos from the morning at the park.  Enjoy!

May 27, 2017 Clark County Wetlands Park

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May 20, 2017

May is waning and the winds are abating a bit.  Temperatures aren’t horrible so I took a late walk at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.  I usually spend around 2 hours at the preserve when I go there and if I’m keeping track of the distance I travel while wandering around the ponds, I’d say I log about 3 1/2 miles.  There are 9 ponds at the Preserve.  They are leaching ponds for the water treatment facility.  There are more ponds that aren’t in use just outside the chain-link fence that surrounds the Preserve.  I believe the ponds are the remnants of an older style of water treatment technology.  They don’t need as many ponds anymore, maybe none at all.  I’m not sure how the waste water is treated in the Las Vegas Valley except for the fact that we are constantly being told that whatever we put into the drainage system will eventually end up in Lake Mead and pollute it.  As for our drinking water, we have an under the kitchen sink water purification system that is reverse osmosis.  We hardly ever change the filters so I don’t think it makes much difference in our lives whether our water tastes like chlorine or not. That is just how it is.

Anyway, on this particular walk, I saw many of the same cast of characters I usually see when I go to the Preserve.  I also saw lots of juvenile and tinier waterfowl chicks. It was a nice walk.  Here are some photos.  Enjoy!

May 20, 2017 Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve

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May 13, 2017

This morning wasn’t too windy or hot so I took a walk at the Clark County Wetlands Park.  I did the normal loop and then some inside trails.  I thought I saw some American or Lesser Goldfinch, but when I got home and actually looked closely at the photos, I was surprised to notice that the birds in question were actually Western Tanagers.  I haven’t seen this species of bird on my hikes and walks in Southern Nevada since I started bird watching.  I can now add them to my life list. YAY!  Here are some photos from my morning hike at the park.

May 13, 2017 Clark County Wetlands Park

When I got home and was sorting through the morning’s photos, I noticed several small birds messing around our hummingbird feeders.  It turns out they were Verdin fledglings trying to figure out how to get more than just ants out of the feeders.  So fun to watch.  Here are a few photos of their attempts.

May 13, 2017 Backyard Feeders

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May 10, 2017

I spent the first several days of May playing golf in a women’s tournament at the golf course near my home so I didn’t have much opportunity to go bird watching.  I did however, see a few Costa’s Hummingbirds, House Finch, Northern Mockingbirds and Verdin in my backyard.  What I didn’t expect was to see something that appeared to be a swarm of bees in a mesquite tree as I took the garbage to the bin one morning.  I posted a photo of the “swarm” on my Novice Birder Facebook page and misidentified it as an adult Greater Roadrunner.  I have since learned that juveniles will hold this pose for as long as it takes for the threat to abate.  I didn’t know I was a threat.  Anyway, it moved to a different tree when I ran inside to get a better view from an upstairs window.  Later that morning, the juvenile Greater Roadrunner took off through my backyard by way of the pool deck.  Such a fun sight to behold.  Here are the photos I took in my backyard.

Nevada Backyard 2017/05/10

Later that day I took a walk at Cornerstone Park just a few miles from my home.  I enjoyed seeing several ducklings and goslings as I walked along the shore and through the grassy park. I made a note to head to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve and Clark County Wetlands Park as soon as I could to see if I could spot anymore avian babies up and about.  Here are my photos from Cornerstone Park. Enjoy!

Cornerstone Park, Henderson Nevada 2017/05/10

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