Total ABA Species Recorded During 2010 - 731

Saturday, June 19, 2010

No Black Rail (again); On to Nevada

When the alarm went off, I got up and went with John to try again for the Black Rail.  It was about an hour drive to get there and about a half-hour to convince us that the rail would again not call for us.  Another hour later we were back in Auburn and ready for a Denny's breakfast.  Auburn is right on I-80.  So after checking out of the motel we headed east into Nevada setting the gps for Elko, the nearest town to the Ruby Mountains, home of the transplanted Himalayan Snockcocks.  I was going to go for the snowcocks in August, but since target birds have been falling at a faster-than-expected pace, we have some time to try for it now.  Crossing Nevada is an education in habitat.  What makes it unique is it's part of the Great Basin, a section of our country from which no water drains.  That's right!  It's a basin with no drain.  There are rivers, but they all end up in salt pans or dry lakes.  For example, the Humboldt River across northern Nevada flows west into the Humboldt Sink.  The snow melt from the mountains provides the water and some of the rivers flow all year.  The sinks, while they have water, are nesting places for avocets (web photo) and stilts and other water-related birds.  When we arrived in Elko, we went to a local outdoors store to get some information.  We were told that finding Chukars and Gray Partridges was easy, but the late snows had made it impossible to get to the snowcock habitat.  We were excited about the two species and not totally disheartened by the news about the snowcocks.  Next we tried to find a motel room, but a motorcycle rodeo was in progress and no motel rooms were available.  When we checked at the Motel 6, we were told that they would be releasing all non-guaranteed reservations at 6:00 (what other time would it be for a Motel 6!) and the desk clerk volunteered to take our name and call us if a room opened up.  So we went off birding in Lamoille (pronounced lam-oil by the locals) Canyon where the trail head for the hike to Island Lake, where most people see the snowcocks, is located.  The snow conditions didn't look too bad, so we decided to bird for the Chukar and partridge tomorrow and save the snowcock climb until Monday.  It was about then that the motel clerk called saying we had a room.  We got situated in our room, and went to dinner at a casino, of which there are several in Elko.  It was reasonable food, but the casino didn't seem very busy.  Maybe bikers aren't big gamblers.  The absence of gamblers may explain why Nevada currently has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.  No new birds for our big travel day.


  1. Of course it's Lam-Oil!! What else? It just makes perfect sense! Good luck on the snowcock and the other fine fare. I think you should get Denny's sponsorship at this point - you guys are are lighting up the map with those Denny's breakfasts!!

  2. Thanks for the habitat lesson. Didn't know about the no drain basin. And I copy Ned on your good luck for the snowcock and his thought's on a Denny' sponsorship!! Renee