Thursday, September 23, 2010


The Cooper's Hawk chased the owl up towards the pool. I lost track of the owl but the Cooper's Hawk was chasing Gambel's Quail down the street afterward.

David Washum of Cafe C'est Si Bon explains how the new sundial operates. His  new sculpture garden will soon transform the intersection of  Routes 127 and 178

Many new things are happening around Shoshone Village. The Warm Springs Pool Nature Path will soon be ready,  as well as some of the paths out on Shoshone Wetlands.Some great birds seen around the pool today include, Willow Flycatcher, Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Orange Crowned Warbler,Townsend's Warbler, Great Horned Owl,Cooper's Hawk,and Phainopepla.
     Today I finally met Jim Pike, who has been birding around here for many years. He's a really nice guy and he seemed to like the new little path. He was off to bird China Ranch, and the Kingston Range. He first began birding Shoshone Village years ago when the now dry catfish pond was active and known as a good place to check. One of the goals of Shoshone Village Birding Program is to transform that pond into a beautiful bird viewing pond with Photo Blinds. It is directly across the street from the Death Valley School, and we hope to inspire some of the local kids to become birders and wildlife observers. Tonight I will bird Grimshaw Lake and check nearby for Sora and Virginia Rails.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Northern Waterthrush has taken over at the garden hose pond.. Today was the 5th day that it's been there.
This rare bird nests in the Northern Forests northern to northern Alaska and  Labrador.
Populations from British Columbia and nw. U.S. probably migrate south along the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas; in California, migrates through eastern deserts 24 Apr to 23 May and mid-Aug to early Nov.
These birds are probably headed to winter in  Baja California, Sonora, and perhaps farther south, where mangroves grow.(BNA Online species account)

A gorgeous Black Throated Gray Warbler stopped briefly yesterday evening, I wasn't quick enough to get a photo.
Hopefully it will be a repeat customer today.Also 2 Western Tanager arrived for a quick drink.

The new Warm Springs Pool Nature Path is nearing completion and it's very birdy right now. There are tons of warblers back there .It's tough to work on trails and watch birds at the same time( a good problem to have!)

Contact me by e-mail or call 760-852-4224 (office)

Monday, September 20, 2010


I was so excited to get up close and personal with Virginia Rails . Rails are known to be most secretive. I could hear them in there so I found a good spot to hide. It took about 20 minutes of sitting motionless  for the first ones to come out.  They flushed and were gone. I thought that would be it. But then...., well you can see. This is the best look I've ever had at them. If you would like to go "Railing" please contact me by e-mail or at 760-852-4224 at Shoshone Village office.

Prothonotary Warbler with Orange Crowned Warbler
Birding from the roof of a car can be a great way to stay on top of things!
Prothonotary Warbler
Cooper's Hawk
Wilson's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler preening

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Goals of the Shoshone Wetlands Birding Program

Our main goal is to promote the birding and wildlife observation of Shoshone Wetlands and the surrounding areas. We are currently constructing Shoshone Wetlands Nature Trails through previously inaccessible desert riparian areas.
Our additional goals:  

  • To offer weekend workshops featuring well-known birders, nature photographers, astronomers, geologists, herpetologists, etc.
  • To inspire local kid's interest in environmental careers through field trips, a desert ecology club, and educational events with  Death Valley School District , Parhump, NV , and Las Vegas, NV School Districts.
  • To offer free weekly bird walks to travelers and locals alike.
  • To transform a former commercial catfish pond into a natural desert wetlands bird viewing pond including photography blinds by utilizing NANPA Foundation –Photo Blind Grant Program.
  • To construct 4 other photography blinds in nearby wetlands areas utilizing NANPA Foundation –Photo Blind Grant Program.
  • To form a competitive birding team that will participate in events throughout Southwestern USA.
  • To offer 4x4 birding / nature field trips to remote areas otherwise inaccessible.
  • To  highlight the connection between Shoshone Village Wetlands and other well known birding and wildlife areas and organizations, e.g., Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Devil's Hole, Death Valley National Park, China Ranch,  Grimshaw Lake, Red Rock Audubon Society,  Eastern Sierra Audubon Society, and Mojave National Preserve.
  • To educate off-road enthusiasts and motorcyclists, with brief and friendly events emphasizing enthusiastic cooperation between often conflicting recreational interests.



Many times the best or only look that you can get can be from below or behind a bird.  This can often be enough for a good ID.
Warblers are particularly challenging because they  usually like thicker cover.
    Here we compare undertails of Prothonotary Warbler vs Wilson's Warbler. (Wilson's is all yellow underneath)
  SONGBIRD MIGRATION IN FULL SWING! A Prothonatary Warbler was seen again yesterday!  I have some photos  that are not good , but they do identify the bird. Last year my  boss Chris Mccreedy of PRBO (Point Reyes Bird Observatory), asked me which North American bird that I would most like to see. Prothonotary was my answer. Imagine my excitement when it first landed here above the little garden hose pond!

Dozens of female Lazuli Buntings are moving through Shoshone right now along with tons of warblers. According to Birds of North America online, the females migrate after the males. I've seen no males this month yet.
Some excellent birding is right in  town around the Crowbar Restaurant and Amargosa Conservancy. The new path behind the Warm Springs Pool is accessible now and we've added a little side path with great views into thick cover. A Sharp Shinned Hawk bathed in the garden hose pond last night A Common Poorwill was singing on the tennis courts after dark.
Here is an updated list of some of the birds seen Sept 2010 in Shoshone Village

Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Sharp Shinned Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Gambel's Quail
Spotted Sandpiper
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Greater Roadrunner
Great Horned Owl
Lesser Nighthawk
Rufous Hummingbird
Olive sided Flycatcher
Say's Phoebe
Western Kingbird
Barn Swallow
Common Raven
Red Breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Cactus Wren
Black Tailed Gnatcatcher
Ruby Crowned Kinglet
Crissal Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Loggerhead Shrike
Cassin's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Wilson's Warbler
Orange Crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Virginia's Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Yellow Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Summer Tanager
Western Tanager
Black Headed Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Savannah Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Brown Headed Cowbird
Lesser Goldfinch
House Finch

Come birding at Shoshone!

Please contact me by EMAIL at or at 760-852-4224  if you'd like to come to Shoshone Village for birding.
There are many wonderful birding hotspots nearby.
Shoshone Wetlands
Amargosa Canyon
China Ranch
Grimshaw Lake
Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge
Death Valley National Park

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One thing is for sure, dragonflies are really cool! I'm totally a point and shoot guy , and had a great time trying to photograph them. Very challenging. I Also got a great look at a Northern Shrike and a Wilson's Warbler .

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MacGillivray's Warbler or Tolmie’s Warbler ?
MacGillivray's Warblers are migrating through Shoshone Village and Shoshone Wetlands right now. They will eventually arrive in Mexico and Central America to spend the winter. The are most easily recognized by the grey head and throat, and BROKEN eye ring,(as shown).
MacGillivray’s Warbler ( Oporornis tolmiei)
is the westernmost member of the genus Oporornis, which includes Mourning Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, and Kentucky Warbler.

Although MacGillivray’s Warbler is common throughout much of its breeding range, its biology remains poorly understood. This species deserves special attention because of its ecological role in boreal forest ecosystems which are being developed by logging and mining interests in the northwestern United States and British Columbia. Industrial forest development should benefit MacGillivray’s Warbler because it inhabits second growth and disturbed habitat; in fact, there is evidence that its breeding range has expanded significantly since the early exploration and development of western North America in the 1800s. it is restricted primarily to the Rocky Mountains and their eastern foothills. It also breeds in small numbers on the prairies in the Black Hills of western South Dakota and in the Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan. It closely resembles the Mourning Warbler in morphology, behavior, and habitat preference. Because of their strong similarities, these two species were once considered eastern and western races of the same species. Subsequent studies on vocal and morphological differences, however, have indicated they are separate and distinct.An interesting but little-known controversy surrounds the common and scientific names of this species. John Kirk Townsend first named it Tolmie’s Warbler, Sylvia tolmiei, after Dr. W. T. Tolmie, Esq., an ornithologist, surgeon, and entrepreneur with the Hudson Bay Company and Townsend’s close friend, who spent most of his life in the Pacific Northwest. Later, however, in his Birds of North America, John J. Audubon renamed the species MacGillivray’s Warbler, Sylvia macgillivrayi, honoring his close personal and professional friendship with Dr. W. MacGillivray, a Scottish ornithologist and professor of natural history who helped Audubon edit his work. Audubon’s disregard for Townsend’s prior names and MacGillivray’s lack of field experience in North America have caused resentment among some veteran western birdwatchers, who prefer reinstating the original common name, Tolmie’s Warbler. Some common Spanish names still reflect the conflict over MacGillivray’s versus Tolmie: Reinita de MacGillivray, VerderĂ³n de Tolmie, and Verdin de Tolmie.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's amazing what this little garden hose pond has attracted for birds in a week! Over 40 species have now stopped to sample this little water feature. Today there were several bats picking insects from the surface at NOON!
We're now serving peaches, oranges, and strawberries Cedar Waxwings and Phainopeplas arrived to taste within a couple of hours after the fruit was placed in tree branches.
Wilson's Warblers have begun to migrate through, Yellow Warbler, MacGillvray's Warbler, and Orange Crowned Warbler continue.
COME BIRDING at SHOSHONE WETLANDS! You can stay at our cozy Shoshone Inn and I will guide you for FREE.