An unexpected oasis in the desert with wildlife…Five days and counting…

Impressive clouds over the mountains while I toured the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.

With both of us having visited Nevada many times in our old lives, we had already been to many popular sightseeing venues throughout the state. With many tasks to accomplish before leaving the US until our next family visit in a few years, we had much to do with little interest in traveling around the state in the excessive heat.

The Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve entrance is secure to avoid trespassers entering during hours the facility is closed.

At this point, we’ve almost completed everything we needed to do. Today, we’ll make the final visit to our mailing service to pick up the last of our mail and drop off a few items we’ll store in our oversized mailbox for future shipment.

Also, we’ll make a quick stop at the pharmacy and Smith’s Market, which will see us through until we leave for the airport on Tuesday morning to fly to Costa Rica for the upcoming three and a half month stay.

Too distant for close-up photos, we spotted these two Cormorants sitting on a rock in a pond.

Two days ago, when I decided to head out on my own, leaving Tom behind to have some time to himself, I headed to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve with few expectations, hoping to see a few birds.

There is a total of eight distinct ponds within the facility.

On many occasions, we’d attempted to take photos of the few birds we’d seen here and there, including some in the yard by the pool.  In most cases, they’ve flown away before I could grab the camera.  While out and about, we’ve seen a few birds and virtually no wildlife.

Each pond had a distinct look with a variety of birds and vegetation.

As our long-time readers know, wildlife is the single most exciting aspect of our travels. Without the opportunity to see Mother Nature’s treasures, we try to focus on culture, scenery, and vegetation. 

Unfortunately, where we’ve been located in Henderson with a population slightly under 300,000 (bordering Las Vegas, which has a population of over 632,000), there have been few opportunities to see desert wildlife in the metropolitan area. 

There are fewer birds at the facility in the summer, but I was surprised to see as many as I had.

Even if we’d ventured deep into the desert (as we’ve done in the past), it would be unlikely we’d see much in the way of wildlife. The heat and the sun keep most animals under cover during daylight hours.

Arriving at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve at 11:10 am, I had no idea the facility closes at noon during the summer months. A kindly staff member explained they’d be closing soon, and the gates would be locked. 

Duck on a rock.

When I explained about our website and the fact I’d hoped to prepare a story on the facility, I was not only welcomed with open arms but was offered a private tour through the entire facility on their utility vehicle; I couldn’t have been more appreciative. 

Oddly, the typically sunny sky this time of year was overcast and not ideal for taking photos, but the unseasonable cool temperature at 75F (24C) was perfect weather for the tour. I was determined to do my best and take as many photos as possible to share here with our worldwide readers. It proved to be a perfect tour.

This bird is a vulture.

As for the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, here are a few facts from their site:

The Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve (HBVP) is one of the best places in southern Nevada to watch birds and dragonflies. Marsh and stream-side habitat in the nearby Las Vegas Wash, combined with open ponds and trees in the HBVP ponds, attracts birds of all kinds to water in this otherwise parched land. Desert species, waterbirds, wading birds, migrant songbirds, and shorebirds can be abundant here. Paved (fully accessible) and dirt (mostly accessible) walkways run on dikes that divide the area into nine brush-lined ponds and provide many vantage points. An elevated platform gives good views over much of the site. Access to the area is free, but it closes early, especially during summer.

The HBVP began as part of the Henderson city sewage treatment system, but with changes in the treatment process, the HBVP now uses reclaimed water, and the odor is gone. Even so, the staff still ask people to remain on the trails and stay out of the mud and water.”

More information may be found on their site, including year-round hours of operation and the remarkable fact that there are no fees required to visit this particular spot. 

Please keep in mind a liability waiver must be signed upon entrance into the facility via the visitors center. However, staying on the trails is safe for people of all ages, although the roads are rough in spots and may not suit those with disabilities.  

In the usual heat of the desert, certain plants bloom pretty and colorful flowers.

The walk through the facility may take several hours, and it’s imperative to dress for the weather and bring plenty of water.  Cooler days definitely would be more suitable for those interested in walking the entire distance. Binoculars and/or a camera are a must. 

Shortly after Barbara, who’d volunteered to give me the tour, we were joined on the utility vehicle by Anthony, a biologist. He plays a significant role in overseeing the wildlife in the preserve. 

During and after the tour, I had an opportunity to speak to Anthony at length as we shared beautiful stories of nature and wildlife. He, too, was originally from the Midwest with an innate passion for nature, so much so that it had become his dedicated lifelong career.

Las Vegas/Henderson is located in a valley surrounded by mountains.
Over the next several days, we’ll continue sharing more photos from my visit to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, although the stories included may not necessarily be relevant to the images.

So, folks, we’re winding down our visit to the USA. On August 1st, “travel day,” we’ll include all of our expenses and a recap of our favorite photos from the 24 days we’ll have spent in Nevada.

Have a pleasant day filled with beautiful surprises!

Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2016:

One year ago, the second bedroom in the Phuket house, which we never used, included an en suite bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub. For more photos, please click here.