Saturday 24 April 2010

Coffee-time competition

This is a special competition, open to those attending Keiran's coffee morning in aid of the RSPB.
Who can guess what birds these are? The answers are all on this website. The person who finds the most correct answers by May 1st will win a print of their choice.
Please send your answers to the e-mail address given to you at the coffee morning.

Friday 23 April 2010

Lekki Conservation Centre, Lagos, Nigeria

Dire warnings about personal safety in Lagos, Nigeria, caused me to opt for the expensive private taxi option for a visit to Lekki Conservation Centre (Google Earth; 6 26 29N 3 32 08E). LCC is a nature reserve, surrounded by a big wall and protected by a manned security gate at the entrance. Once inside I was able to wander with confidence as my wont might take me.
Lagos is a huge city with a population of 17 million people living in low-rise accommodation. Thus land space is at a premium and it was a pleasure to find somewhere like Lekki that has been preserved despite the pressure.
My red crayon was poised for a bagful of lifers that I had targeted and my hopes were high. The first bird of the day was a Common Peafowl, or Peacock.
I could pick these out easily in the dimness of the early morning, but I was trying to delay my excursion into the palm swamp until the light improved. As it got brighter, I was better able to make out colours and found a good-sized flock of White-throated Bee-eaters in the large trees above the peacock. Still in the open area around the centre’s buildings, Common Bulbuls lived up to their name and a couple of Vieillot’s Weavers were moving in the palms.
The heat and humidity in the forest was oppressive, but I was surprised that I was not being eaten alive by mosquitoes. Whilst I detest too much heat, I will suffer it over biting insects any day.  
Very soon, close to a crocodile viewing platform, I came across the first troupe of the resident Mona Monkeys Cercopithecus mona. They appeared to be inquisitive and shy at the same time if that is possible. This guenon is common across West Africa, but this is my first sighting of them. They are charming and pretty and I am always pleased to find a new mammal that is not a rodent.
A bird hide overlooks a small open area of marsh. 2 African Jacana were calling frantically while 2 White-faced Ducks looked on nervously. I hoped that there might be a big snake upsetting them, but I could not find anything to cause their distress.
A sunbird with a green head flashed across the front of the hide. I checked my Helm field guide and noted that it was a Green-headed Sunbird.
The trail through the palm swamp is shaped like a figure-of-eight with the top loop consisting of wet palm forest and made accessible by a boardwalk. The bottom loop is drier and is accessed by a normal track that gives out on to a small area of savannah before rejoining the boardwalk.
I was approaching the junction where the trail crosses itself when I heard a call and was able to follow it to it’s source. The rising, chuckling call came from a Little Greenbul. It is a dark, drab bird whose only distinguishing feature is that it has no distinguishing features.
I turned left at the crossroads. The boardwalk ended and an overgrown trail continued through the drier part of the forest. I had to walk much of this section bent over and brushing through vegetation that had encroached on to the path. It made me feel very intrepid, but you don’t see much when you are bent over so.
I did find a damselfly and will endeavour to find out what it is as soon as I can. At the moment, I haven’t a clue.
Soon enough, the trail opened out and the birds became more visible. I struggle to keep my enthusiasm up in quiet forests, so I was glad to be out on the savannah where one’s horizons are greatly expanded and birds are more visible. My other two lifers of the day came almost immediately with a pair of Carmelite Sunbirds feeding in the top of one bush and a flock of Swamp Palm Bulbuls in the next one along.
This area was by far the most productive of the day with many more Common Bulbuls, Red-eyed Doves and Vieillot’s Weavers. A Splendid Sunbird flitted between bushes while a Senegal Coucal flushed from the ground and disappeared.
Looking back over the forest, an African Harrier-hawk was displaying in it’s undulating style and another bird of prey flew over, but evaded identification. A picnic area (for extreme picnickers) held me for a while as I tried to “pish” some obstinate birds from the top of a palm tree. I tried a rising, then a falling inflection, I tried to imitate the rhythm and cadence of their calls, and I even tried pishing the theme from “Match of the Day”. They eventually showed themselves and I recognised them as the Swamp Palm Bulbuls again. I turned around to continue on my way to find a centre worker watching me resignedly.
For some, the term “pishing” or “spishing” may be unfamiliar. In the world of bird-watching, we make peculiar squeaks and hisses in an effort to whet a bird’s curiosity. The bird may then approach closer to investigate where the noises are coming from and what they might mean, then the bird-watcher can get a better look at it.
In Nigeria, a similar “tssst” (usually used within restaurants and bars to attract the staff), means “Come here, I want you”. While the Nigerian tradition is to hiss discretely, the sound carries and has an attention grabbing quality. We bird-watchers tend to pish loudly and extravagantly, becoming frantic and causing any passing Nigerian to consider us extremely rude and impatient. I once found myself in embarrassing confusion with the groundsman in the hotel gardens in Abuja, Nigeria. It took some time to explain that I was trying to attract the attention of a bird and not him. He walked off, shaking his head, muttering in a rich, dark voice, “You white-men have not enough to do!”
All too soon I was back in the swamp forest. I came across a wonderful looking tree house/hide, but was disappointed to find that it was out of commission.
More Mona Monkeys played in the palms alongside the boardwalk, but I not seen many birds in the forest today. The light under the trees was very gloomy anyway, so photos would have been unsatisfactory.
I would estimate the boardwalk and trail to run for about one and a half miles altogether, but a visitor could choose to walk just the top loop and return to the centre in easily less than a mile.
Back at the car park, I was able to get a better look at a Black-crowned Crane. I had seen it earlier, but the light was too low at the time. It was approachable enough to make me think that it was used to people.
The centre is not a busy place on a Thursday morning though. I had the forest to myself and the only other visitors were some school children who were kept cooped up in the centres education room. Poor things.

Bird species; 23

Long-tailed Cormorant 1, Western Cattle Egret 10, White-faced Whistling Duck 2, Yellow-billed Kite 4, African Harrier-hawk 1, Black-crowned Crane 1, African Jacana 2, Red-eyed Dove 20, Senegal Coucal 1, White-throated Bee-eater 30, Little Green Bee-eater 2, Allied Hornbill 6, Common Bulbul 30, Little Greenbul 2, Swamp Palm Bulbul 14, African Thrush 2, Collared Sunbird 2, Green-headed Sunbird 2, Carmelite Sunbird 3, Superb Sunbird 1, Pied Crow 2, Black-necked Weaver 2, Vieillot’s Weaver 8.

Mammal species; 1

Mona Monkey 30

Saturday 17 April 2010

Central Park, New York, New York

It is a pleasure to be able to blaze a trail for G.L. in return for all his suggestions in the past. He asked me to keep an eye out for yellow warblers in Central Park today ahead of his visit next week.
I found this one singing on the bridge over the north lobe of the boating lake. How am I doing so far G?
I had been looking forward to my rendezvous this week and my date looked fetching in the colours of the new season. But as regulars to the park will tell you, she can be fickle and today she was playing hard to get. The second week of April may have been slightly too early for the warblers, but some of the other migrants had already arrived.
Most obvious was the American Robin which was abundant in the park this morning. Some were in the process of building nests; others were singing their short-versed song or fighting for territory.
Also very obvious was the White-throated Sparrow. This species is a year-round resident of the park but numbers seemed much higher today. Perhaps the population is augmented by visitors, but probably the surround sound of ”..pibbidy, pibbidy, pibbidy” made them seem omnipresent.
Apart from these, I saw very few birds before arriving at The Ramble. From the southern end of Bow Bridge, I thought I was going to be in for a woodpecker-fest. Drumming and calling from Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers accompanied me across the span, but seemed to melt away as I entered the woodland.
I arrived at The Oven just in time to see a Raccoon clocking off for the night and heading for his daybed.
In the café beside The Boathouse is a folder variously named “Nature Notes” or “Bird Sightings.” It is the bird log for the park and is kept in the café for all to see. The lack of birds was puzzling me. I was sure that I should have been seeing more than I had so wanted to check that I wasn’t missing out. The bird log confirmed what I had been noticing; that there were only a few species around so far this Spring.
Another absence had been preying on my mind. It was nearly 08.30 and I had not seen another bird-watcher yet. As I left the café and headed back into the park, I saw the first flock of birders. They had seen very little too. “It’s a tough day”, “quiet day”, “slow day” were the comments from them.
I stopped and talked with one for a short while and asked why so few birders were out on such a beautiful mid-April morning. His answer was because the birds liked to feed on the insects that were curled up in the catkins at the top of the trees. The catkins only start to open once the sun has had a chance to work it’s magic, so that is when the bird activity begins. Local birders who have got this timing sussed were able to stay snug and smug for an extra couple of hours in their beds while I watched the sky lighten behind the tall buildings. Will this new found knowledge keep me out of the park at dawn? Not a chance! She may be moody, but she is magnificent at any time of day.
A hermit Thrush greeted me at the top of the slope.
A narrow spit of land pokes out into the boating lake from the north side. At last a few other birds were starting to show.
A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Cardinal and some Blue Jays were seen down here.
Back in The Ramble, a Downy Woodpecker was excavating a hole. The downy often cuts more than one hole, so I cannot say for sure that this is to be her nest. A russet-brown bird turning the leaves proved to be a Brown Thrasher.
At Azalea pond, I stopped for a few minutes to try to get a decent photograph of a Northern Cardinal.
I was headed for Turtle pond which has often been a productive spot for warblers, especially the trees around the south-east end of the pond by the Poland bronze.
At last I found a Palm Warbler, shortly followed by a small group of Yellow-rumped Warblers. There were a few more birders in this area, but they seemed to be getting impatient, expecting to see more warblers than this.
An Eastern Phoebe was hawking from the branches overhanging the pond as a Double-crested cormorant dried it’s wings on a bough at water level.
I spent some time along the south edge of Turtle Pond, watching the robins and jays flicking through the fallen leaves of the winter and singing amongst the new spring growth. 
Taking a last pass through The Ramble, I found some Cedar Waxwings and a Pine Warbler before heading out to see how the Red-tailed Hawks were doing.

There is a famous hawk in New York called Pale Male. With his mate, Lola, he has nested and raised young on the façade of a building overlooking the model boat pond for some years now.
The pair has featured on national news and in the likes of People magazine, even in a previous Redgannet post. Books have been written and there are many websites devoted to them. A visit to the model boat lake at any time will reveal a Red-tailed Hawk fan, often a few at a time. The hawks are very closely scrutinised and at momentous events, such as fledging time, quite a crowd can gather. The female, Lola was sitting on eggs when I arrived, but today’s commentator told me that they were due to hatch at any moment.
 As we watched, a hawk came soaring out of the park towards the building, a second hawk swooped down at the first. I understand that the first one was Pale Male and that the second was an “outsider”. Pale Male saw him off and returned to his lookout in the park. A fine series of photographs of the hawk pair can be found at A more diary style site is

If you wish to go birding in Central Park but do not wish to do so alone, go on a walk with “Pishing Bob”. Details can be found at

I had finished birding now, but to maintain a useful record, I would like to note that the “Bird sightings” folder included a couple of entries that I did not see. For example a Louisiana Waterthrush was noted on 12th April. American Kestrels were also seen in the last week.

Bird species; 28

Double-crested Cormorant 5, Canada Goose 4, Mallard 12, Red-tailed Hawk 3, Ring-billed Gull 2, Mourning Dove 12, Red-bellied Woodpecker 2, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 3, Downy Woodpecker 2, Eastern Phoebe 1, Cedar Waxwing 6, Brown Thrasher 1, American Robin 100, Hermit Thrush 6, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 12, Blue Jay 30, American Crow 4, Common Starling 50, House Sparrow 50, American Goldfinch 4, Yellow-rumped Warbler 6, Pine Warbler 1, Palm Warbler 2, White-throated Sparrow 200, Dark-eyed Junco 3, Northern Cardinal 8, Red-winged Blackbird 4, Common Grackle 20.

Mammals species;

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Merauli Archaeological Park, New Delhi, DEL

The mercury had passed 40C in New Delhi this week as the pressure builds in anticipation of the south-west monsoon. As soon as I stepped out from the taxi at Mehrauli Archaeological Park, I could hear the familiar hoot of the Coppersmith Barbet and further on, the resonant trill of the Brown-headed Barbet.
Since the day was already well advanced when we arrived in New Delhi, I needed to find somewhere close by, so I opted for the park that I had seen from the bus on the journey from the airport.
As ever in an Indian city, House Crows, Black Kites and Rose-ringed Parakeets were very obvious.
Also very common here were Jungle Babblers which glided between feeding opportunities, They were occasionally joined by Brahminy Starlings.
Indian Robins and 3-striped squirrels kept up a constant chattering soundtrack.
As one might infer from the name, Mehrauli Archaeological Park is blessed with architectural antiquities many of which have been restored. One might almost expect Baloo the bear and King Louis to come dancing round a corner at any moment.
There were no maps or signs that meant anything to me, so I just investigated bird calls and followed my nose.
Close to the Indian Nursery flower market, some Indian Peafowl flushed from a thicket and flew up on to the crenellations of the nearest ruin.
In an open area, Indian Silverbill (White-throated Munia) were feeding from seed heads.
Some Jungle Babblers and a Rufous Treepie flushed from the top of a crumbling gatehouse, while a Black Redstart picked insects from a small bush sprouting from the decaying brickwork.
Beyond the gatehouse, a set of steep, terraced steps took me up and on to a wide open area with a wonderful view of Qut’b Minar.
Red-wattled Lapwings were feeding in the sparse grass and Brown Rock Chats flitted among the fallen masonry.
Then it was time for the star of the show to make his entrance. I say “he”, but confess that I do not know if there is a way to differentiate between the sexes of Spotted Owlets. He flew into a tree close by.
The tree was rooted further down a slope and I was on the top level of the terraces which afforded me a perfect eye-level view, the best seat in the house.
Like a seasoned performer the owlet proceeded to work through his repertoire of expressions.
This one was “surprise”.

Here we have “angelic”.


and “playful”.
Then a second owlet appeared in an adjacent tree and the performer left the stage. The show was over and they flew off together and left me to my applause.
I had nearly completed an eccentric circle when I came across a busy birdy spot close to the Jamali Kamali Tomb.

Black Redstarts, Purple Sunbirds, Jungle Babblers and a
Red-breasted Flycatcher (thank you to Rajneesh Suvarna) made an exciting after-show party.
The 72.5meter Qut’b Minar dominates the horizon in Mehrauli Archaeological Park, acting as a reference point and allowing one to wander aimlessly without getting lost (bear in mind however that it is a round tower and looks the same from every angle).
Sometimes going by the popular name pf Jamali Kamali (near Lado Serai), the park offers 100 acres of light woodland and ancient ruins within 5 minutes of New Delhi Sheraton Hotel. It is open from sunrise ‘til sunset and was quiet on this Easter Saturday morning. It did not appear to attract early morning walkers in the same way that other Indian city parks do.
It is a delightful place to visit for a walk or even a picnic if you do not want to watch the birds and squirrels and I would urge anyone to do so. Check the following links for a described tour of the park and it’s archaeological heritage.
Birders may find the last two paragraphs of the above piece interesting.

Bird species; 31

Cattle Egret 2, Black Kite 10, Tawny Eagle 1, Indian Peafowl 7, Red-wattled Lapwing 2, Eurasian Collared Dove 15, Laughing Dove 6, Rose-ringed Parakeet 30, Spotted Owlet 2, Little Green Bee-eater 2, Hoopoe 2, Brown-headed Barbet 6, Coppersmith Barbet 1, Black-rumped Flameback 1, Red-whiskered Bulbul 2, Red-vented Bulbul 6, Indian Blue Robin 6, Oriental Magpie Robin 6, Black Redstart 2, Brown Rockchat 4, Yellow-bellied Prinia 1, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Red-breasted Flycatcher 1, Jungle Babbler 50, Purple Sunbird 6, Rufous Treepie 2, House Crow 100, Common Myna 25, Brahminy Starling 8, House Sparrow 4, White-throated Munia 4.

For the sake of completeness, a few species were seen en-route and in the city which I did not encounter in the park. These were;

Bird species; 6

Shikra 1, Greater Coucal 1, House Swift 30, White-throated Kingfisher 1, Black Drongo 1, Bank Myna 3.

Merauli Archaeological Park, New Delhi, DEL, India

Monday 5 April 2010

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

In the same way that an episode of Sesame Street might be sponsored by a particular number or letter, the month of March at Redgannet has been brought to you by the avian genus “Toxostoma”.
The Californian Thrasher (Toxostoma redivivum) was added to my life list during a trip to LA earlier this month. This week, in Las Vegas, I was on the trail of the Le Conte’s (T. lecontei) and Crissal Thrasher (T. Crissale). G.L. had introduced me to Je-Anne Branca (a double beer debt could be inferred from this), a birder’s birder and self-styled "feather chaser" (, who picked me up at 06.30 from my hotel and drove me out to Corn Creek at the base of the Sheep Mountain Range.
We stopped en-route to check out some Eurasian Collared Doves and a Burrowing Owl. While we were surveying the doves, a darker bird flew into an open bush. With the binoculars, it was easy to see that it was a Yellow-headed Blackbird. The day had started well with breakfast and a lifer!
About 25 miles from the northern end of The Strip, we turned right (east) off Highway 95 on to a dirt road that led to Corn Creek. The thickest area of the scrub either side of the road is usually the best place to look for Le Conte’s Thrasher. Je-Anne was concerned that the cold north wind would deter them from their pursuit of singing from the top of the low bushes that make up the low-elevation Mojave Desert scrub. Their alternative behaviour is staying low and out of sight. We stopped a couple of times and scanned the top of the bushes. The birds teed-up here were Sage Sparrows, which made another great addition to the morning’s list. A large pale bird, way, way off looked very promising, but dropped down into the scrub before Je-Anne could get the scope on it. Despite the distance, I am confident enough to call a Le Conte’s Thrasher. This was the only one we saw and we concluded that they were staying low out of the biting, cold wind that made me wish I had brought gloves.
Horned Larks flushed from the verge as we continued on to the reserve. Corn Creek is a spring in the desert and attracts birds from all around. Some Lucy’s Warblers had just arrived; almost reaching their northern limit in Nevada.
The reserve has a couple of ponds, an orchard area and dry scrub beyond. Je-Anne, pointed out a Townsend’s Solitaire and a beautifully marked Audobon’s (Yellow-rumped) Warbler. In the orchard, I tried to get some photographs of the solitaire and some Ruby-crowned Kinglets without much success. A female Vermillion Flycatcher was hawking from a low perch, but again my prowess with the camera was not up to the task. As we moved into the dry area beyond the orchard, a brown bird flashed across in front of us. I did not see it clearly but Je-Anne called Crissal Thrasher. I had quickly come to realise that she is a very experienced birder and one who knows her way around a mimid. So if she says it was a Crissal Thrasher, then it was a Crissal Thrasher.
Phaenopeplas were common here and were building a nest in one of the many growths of mistletoe. A Road Runner called, but would not come out to be spotted. An accipiter flew over and by consensus we decided on a Cooper’s Hawk, however on the drive out, a much smaller version was probably the Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Bird species; 32

Mallard 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Cooper’s Hawk 1, Red-tailed Hawk 1, Eurasian Collared Dove 30, Mourning Dove 6, Burrowing Owl 1, Northern Flicker 1, Say’s Phoebe 2, Vermillion Flycatcher 1, Horned Lark 6, Tree Swallow 2, Northern Mockingbird 4, Le Conte’s Thrasher 1, Crissal Thrasher 1, American Robin 3, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 8, Verdin 2, Common Raven 12, Common Starling 4, House Finch 4, Lesser Goldfinch 2, Lucy’s Warbler 5, Yellow-rumped Warbler 8, Sage Sparrow 4, Song Sparrow 2, Lincoln’s Sparrow 1, White-crowned Sparrow 20, Dark-eyed Junco 2, Western Meadowlark 2, Yellow-headed Blackbird 1, Great-tailed Grackle 35.

Mammal species;

Desert Cottontail 6, White-tailed Antelope Squirrel 1.

We moved on to the snow-capped Spring Mountains for the early part of the afternoon. A flock of a dozen or so Band-tailed pigeon flew high across the road while Je-Anne regaled me with stories of Mountain Lions. Stopping occasionally we saw Western Bluebird and Pygmy Nuthatch. We approached the mountains through Lee Canyon and followed this road right to the top where the skiers park. Here Je-Anne promised me a Clark’s Nutcracker. As if on cue, one flew by without us even having to get out of the car. At the time I thought this to be a lifer, but on checking found that I had seen it before in Banff.
We turned onto Kyle Canyon Road. Western Scrub Jays that we saw here are likely to be split soon by the ABA (to become Interior Scrub-jays), so I will keep my red crayon handy for then. Near the top of the canyon we pulled into a small village to check out a feeder. Among the Dark-eyed Juncos was a Slate-coloured form. Steller’s Jays and some female Cassin’s Finch made up the party.

Species seen; 13

Red-tailed Hawk 3, Band-tailed Pigeon 12, Northern Flicker 1, Western Bluebird 2, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2, Pygmy Nuthatch 8, Steller’s Jay, Western Scrub Jay 4, Clark’s Nutcracker 1, Common Raven 3, Cassin’s Finch 3, Yellow-rumped Warbler 3, Dark-eyed Junco 9.

The afternoon was progressing as we made our way round a route taking in Red Rock Canyon and Blue Diamond. The canyon is aptly named for it’s very attractive colouration, but this also makes it a popular day trip for Las Vegans(?) getting away from the madness of the city. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, so the canyon was busy. The boardwalk here is one that I would love to return to on a quieter day. Even so we had a nice look at aWhite-tailed Antelope Squirrel, some Audobon’s Warblers and a Pink-sided version of the Dark-eyed Junco.
At Blue Diamond, Je-Anne was after a very special bird. Without adequate provenence, the Black-throated Magpie Jay cannot be ticked although it would warrant the red crayon if it were seen 500 miles to the south and east. It is endemic to north-west Mexico. I know that the birding associations of each country are justifiably proud of their endemic species. I wonder if they guard them jealously. The ABA considers a bird that has survived for 10 years in the wild as a naturalised species and therefore a legitimate part of the region’s avifauna. The magpie jay has been seen in Blue Diamond for 4 years now, It looks as if it is planning to stay and if it survives for 6 more years would jeopardise the endemic status of it’s species in Mexico. Perhaps it could soon become a target for the Mexican Birding Association’s assassination hit squad.
A small covey of Gambel’s Quail and a Coasta’s Hummingbird finished off the day.
I should like to extend a big thank you to Je-Anne for her generosity, expertise and good company during a great day out.

Bird species; 16

Red-tailed Hawk 1, Gambel’s Quail 8 Mourning Dove 2, Costa’s Hummingbird 1, Northern Mockingbird 2, Black-throated Magpie-jay 1, Common Starling 2, House Sparrow 15, House Finch 4, Lesser Goldfinch 2, Lucy’s Warbler 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 8, Lincoln’s Sparrow 1, White-crowned Sparrow 12, Dark-eyed Junco 1, Western Meadowlark 2.

Mammal species;

White-tailed Antelope Squirrel 1

The next morning found me at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. It was cool and bright again and time for me to make up for my lack of photos from yesterday. Here I found Je-Anne in her preferred habitat of sewage and settlement. She had just fed the Gambel’s Quail and was getting ready to take a bird tour round the preserve.
It would have been possible to walk, but how can you turn down local experience such as Je-Anne’s especially when she takes you round in a bird mobile (in reality an 8-seater golf cart)? We were joined by local birders, Dave and Marilyn.
The preserve is a reclamation area for treated water from the adjacent works. The ponds were edged with scrub which provided vantage points for a Verdin and a Common Moorhen on the first pond. The ponds are labelled by number, but we took a geographical rather than numerical route, so do not set any store by the order of sightings.
Some of the ponds had deep water and held diving ducks such as Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Duck and Ring-necked Duck. Eared Grebe were plentiful and even a few Double-crested Cormorants put in an appearance.
One of the ponds had tule beds and a couple of low islands. Marsh Wrens sang in the six-foot sedges and a Virginia Rail clucked but remained in cover. As we waited to see if the rail would put in an appearance, a snipe flew over. This was the Wilson's Snipe and credit goes to Je-Anne again for the ID. On the islands, some Canada Geese were preparing themselves for a fruitless season. Despite successful hatchings, the goslings never survive as there is no grass for them to feed on within waddling distance.
Beside them a small group of American Avocet females stood quietly. I learned how to tell them from the males, by checking the up-curve at the end of the bill. The females’ bills are more pronounced in their up-turns. Another thing I didn’t realise is that Ruddy Ducks can be parasitic, laying their eggs in the nests of Wood Duck among others. Redheads and even Mallards can also lay their eggs in the nests of others, I was shocked to hear.
There are plenty of Desert Cottontails and Dave spotted a Black-tailed Jack-rabbit. Coyotes have a den in the preserve, but are more commonly seen in the early morning.
The tule beds were also home to a few Black-crowned Night Herons which, as Dave observed, scattered themselves widely rather than in a common roost.
Passerines included Yellow-rumped Warbler, Song Sparrow and as we pulled back to the visitor’s centre, an Ash-throated Flycatcher.
A full list of birds and details of the preserve can be found at

Deuce and Ace buses combined to take me south along the strip as far as Sunset Road, just past the McCarran International Airfield. From here I had to walk 15 minutes or so east to find a bus stop for the 212. Hence it was 20 minutes until I passed under Boulder Highway and alighted at Moser Drive.
A taxi might have cost $40+ (each way) while a transfer ticket (lasting 2 hours for all 3 buses) cost $3

Bird species; 34

Pied-billed Grebe 6, Eared Grebe 15, Double-crested Cormorant 6, Green Heron 1, Black-crowned Night-heron 4, Canada Goose 8, Wood Duck 1, American Wigeon 1, Gadwall 6, Green-winged Teal 8, Mallard 4, Cinnamon Teal 12, Northern Shoveler 300, Redhead 4, Ring-necked Duck 12, Lesser Scaup 30, Bufflehead 12, Ruddy Duck 200, Gambel’s Quail 25, Common Moorhen 4, American Coot 10, American Avocet 4, Kildeer 2, Wilson’s Snipe 1, Ring-billed Gull 1, Black Phoebe 1, Ash-throated Flycatcher 1, Tree Swallow 2, Northern Rough-winged Swallow 10, Marsh Wren 6, Verdin 2, Yellow-rumped Warbler 6, Song Sparrow 2, White-crowned Sparrow 8.

Mammal species;

Desert Cottontail 8, Black-tailed Jack-rabbit 1.