Instead of our usual morning walk around the golf course, we drove four miles to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve to enjoy some early morning peace, quiet and bird-watching. As I've said before, we're not “twitchers”, i.e. avid bird watchers, but we do enjoy watching and identifying birds in beautiful settings.
Located at its Water Reclamation facility, the City of Henderson has done a great job with the bird viewing preserve for nearly 20 years. Over 140 acres of land including nine ponds provide lots of safe area and nesting for residents as well as welcome rest stops for migrants and visitors. It's one of our favorite places to visit when we're in the area.
We've never spent much time at the preserve during the winter months, so we weren't sure what to expect. We were waiting at the gate when it opened at 7 am and spent over two hours walking the maze of paths around the ponds. We certainly got our 10,000 steps in without any difficulty. Of the nearly 300 species identified on the preserve's checklist, we saw only a few and most of them were waterfowl. That said, the species we saw were relatively new to us (or our memories have failed us once again). The northern shovelers were in great abundance.
...and I don't remember seeing (or ever hearing about) buffleheads before. It's a great name though.
While ducks, coots, Canada geese and grebes swam peacefully on the ponds, falcons and hawks soared overhead looking for breakfast. The wary desert cottontails hid inconspicuously in the bramble and the smaller birds took refuge in the reeds and grasses along the shore. We saw one coyote prowling just outside the preserve's fence … watch out bunnies.
I got a kick out of the Quail Crossing sign with all the Gambel's quail milling around … obviously not jaywalkers.
The place was nearly empty during our entire visit other than a few photographers trying to catch the morning's “magic light”. Hopefully, serene, beautiful places like this will continue being supported and funded by local governments and organizations, providing a great place for walks and birders and a safe haven for our avian friends. We look forward to returning on our next visit to Las Vegas.