Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Outside Las Vegas - Corn Creek Station

On the last day of our trip to Vegas, we explored the area around the city.  We visited Corn Creek Station, which is part of Desert National Wildlife Refuge; Lee Canyon, which is on Mount Charleston, and Red Rock Canyon, which is just west of the cushy Vegas suburb of Summerlin.

We have been to Corn Creek before.  At least five years ago, before the current and very nice visitor's center was constructed.  Right outside the visitor's center, three or four small birds were working over a small shrub.  The picture isn't super impressive, but I am including it because this is the first time I have seen Verdin!

Corn Creek is a literal oasis.  Several springs emerge here and support far more vegetation and wildlife than the surrounding desert.  One of the springs has been cemented into a pool.  Many birds were enjoying this feature.

As we walked around the area, Justin asked me if roadrunners lived here.  I told him I no idea.  And then, within 15 minutes, we saw one!  And the weirdest part of all is that it was at the top of a tree (roadrunners are not graceful fliers, or tree climbers, as it happens).   

Corn Creek has a gorgeous setting, nestled between very desolate-looking mountain ranges.  Temperatures were approaching 100 degrees while we were there, but the path offered some shade and just the sound of water made it seem cooler.  

Part of the original settlement at Corn Creek included an orchard, and a few of the trees are still around (you can sort of see it behind the cement pool in the picture above).  In particular, a peach tree was full of overripe fruit, that attracted a continual parade of feathered critters.  

Those included this female Lesser Goldfinch, and the brilliantly-colored male Bullock's Oriole.

According to my records, this is my "life" Bullock's Oriole.  And I also saw life Black-Chinned Hummingbird and Gambel's Quail but did not get photographs.  Although I swear up and down that we saw Gambel's Quail in New Mexico, it just must have not made it on my list.

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