North-west Nevada

Today a full day in the field beckoned, which field exactly I didn’t decide on until I got up. I started by walking the Carson City, Silver Saddle Ranch river trail from dawn – it was pretty nippy. I knew from the off that it was a good choice when a Great Horned Owl greeted me in the car park. As the sun rose, or at least glowed at me from behind the hills, birds started to appear. There was a lot of fuss going on in one spot and it turned out that a hidden Western Screech Owl was still calling and the American Magpies were intent on finding it, no doubt to give it a good talking to.

After I’d walked about a mile I started hearing Pinyon Jays then seeing them in the tree tops. Scope views were the order of the day and was watching one noisy bird when another 100 flew past! The jay and owl were new species for me but I needed to see an owl if at all possible. With the sun on my back and my frozen fingers getting some colour back I found a Townsend’s Solitaire taking the rays just like me. Nearer the car park the tree tops were bouncing with commoner species but also ten each of Red Crossbill and Evening Grosbeak. It had been a good walk.

Next I headed North to the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge near Fallon, on the way passing a Golden Eagle on a roadside utility pole. The refuge was pretty dry but I still managed to see a few birds on the odd deeper pool. One feature of the site was the endless parade of displaying Red-tailed Hawks, I reckon I saw at least five pairs just on the reserve and probably 50+ individuals throughout the day. Part way around the reserve an isolated tree had an incubating Great Horned Owl that eyed me suspiciously when I took its photo (from a distance).

My last stop was the Carson wetlands south of Fallon, a great site that was full of birds. There were at least 70 White-faced Ibis, 250 Long-billed Dowitchers, 45 American Avocets, 15 Marbled Godwits and tons of wildfowl. I had hoped to see a Prairie Falcon there, I saw one earlier in the day but only fleetingly and I really wanted to get better views but one never showed, maybe tomorrow.

By late afternoon it was time to head back but I made one short stop in Fallon and finally got to see a Western Screech Owl, well most of one. This bird sits in a single tree by a day care center and took no notice of me as I snapped a record shot.

Tomorrow I am again undecided so let’s just see what the morning brings.

Below a few photos – Western Screech Owl, Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk/s White-crowned Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, Red Crossbill, Evening Grosbeak and Townsend’s Solitaire although not necessarily in that order. The visit list is now nudging the ton with three lifers too, not bad at all.

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