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Plannig a Road Trip with the family. It’s not a “birding” trip, but I will be able to stop whenever I want to bird along the trip, you know...since I’m the man of the house!!! (As long as it’s okay with my wife that is!!!! Most “birding stops” will be around 1-2 hours, so short and sweet. Except nation parks, and major stoping points, which I will have 1-4 days at each. My path is looking like the following: Start San diego, Drive to Las Vegas after work. Stay over night. Day 1: visit Vegas, Stay over night Day 2: drive to Salt Lake City, Utah...(any stops along the way, off of Interstate 15?) Stay over night. Day 3: Visit Salt Lake City, Stay Over night. (Local Birding Spots???) Day 4: Stay at Salt Lake?/or most likely head to Yellowstone National park trough Grand Tenton. Day 5: stay in Grand Tenton or Yellowstone (most likely YellowStone) Day 6-7: Visit Yellowstone Day 8: Drive to Spokane Washigton Day 9-12: Visit Spokane/idaho Day 13: Drive to Seattle. Day 14-15 Visit Seattle/Olympic National Park Day 16 Drive to Crater Lake, Oregon Day 17-18: Visit Crater Lake Day 19-21: Drive back to San Diego, or spend more time at other locations throughout the trip.
This trip report covers just a few hours of birding around Las Vegas during the first weekend of November 2014. Several good spots were hit to target desert / local birds, and as you might expect bird density was highest near water. The weather was quite pleasant, with highs around 80 each day. The first morning started at Clark County Wetlands Park. I picked Wetlands Park for proximity to the Strip and prevalence of Black-tailed Gnatcatchers...and I was not disappointed. We started by simply walking the paved loop into the park, and Gnatcatchers were heard immediately; although their call is distinct from Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, I was happy when the birds sat up and showed off their black, white-fringed undertail. As we continued the loop, loads of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, a surprising number of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Verdin, and White-crowned Sparrows were seen. A covey of Gambel's Quail seemed unconcerned by our presence. We could occasionally hear and see Anna's Hummingbirds about. Black and Say's Phoebe's rested on high points. We eventually ran into several Southwestern birds, including Phainopepla, Abert's Towhee, a single Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and a Greater Roadrunner. At least two Lincoln's Sparrows were found. And last but not least, a small hummingbird landed long enough for observation - a Costa's Hummingbird. A mid-day was spent West and North of the city, looping through Red Rock Canyon, birding a small piece of Desert National Wildlife Refuge, and looping through Mt. Charleston. Birding Desert NWR (entrance road & Corn Creek Field Station) was excellent, even in mid-afternoon. Driving slowly down the dirt entrance road, a Greater Roadrunner stopped for pictures. A little while later, several birds flew a short way from the road side - Horned Larks. Since the area seemed active, I got out and walked around; sure enough, I could hear the 'tinks' of a target species - Sagebrush Sparrows! After I had my fill observing the sparrows, we continued to the Corn Creek Field Station. The creek and pond held lots of birds, including a large flock of Cassin's Finches and Cedar Waxwings. White-crowned Sparrows and a single White-throated Sparrow stuck to the tangles, along with Verdin, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, & Bewick's Wren. On the drive out, I saw an interesting bird scoot through a dry wash, so I got out of the car for a mini-chase; although I was thinking thrasher, eventually I uncovered what I presume to be a family group of five Cactus Wren. Overall, this trip ended with 52 species (roughly six hours birding spread over several days). Expected regional birds such as Great-tailed Grackles and Verdin were prevalent throughout the city anywhere there were trees. Other birds picked up during driving included Western Scrub-jay, Common Raven, Red-tailed Hawk, and expected city-dwellers. Other species seen included Desert Cottontail, White-tailed Antelope Squirrel, and wild (feral) burro. Only a handful of reptiles were observed, and they were too fast for me to photo or identify.