so it's always really nice to spend some time in march in the palm springs/joshua tree N.P. area of california (although there's a reason for that massive wind farm on I-10 coming into PS), but it was time to get home and to do so i decided to cut off from 395 at Bishop and take 6 on over to Fish Lake Valley and make a weekday morning stop at the luscious and superb hot springs there. always a double-pronged pleasure there, with a good soak and some interesting birding.
so there were some folks there. a camp of two cars and a tent, and another salty dog desert rat in a fully desertified 4-runner. everybody was cool. and there are some birds here in the ponds. as usual.
in the big outer third pond, there was a nice raft of cinnamon teal....basically 20 pairs of em. you'll never get a better look at these stunning birds. i just sucked em up. it was way good.
also in that same large pond......
3 buffleheads (1 male)
1 ruddy duck
1 male shoveler
1 male eared grebe
1 pair blue winged teal
3 female red-winged blackbirds
1 violet green swallow
a couple marsh wrens chittering about
about 20 ivory-billed gallinules (aka coots)
and in the little stream where the hot water from the one hot bath flows into Pond 1 (home to hundreds of goldfish), in about one inch of the stream of very warm water, standing on one leg and napping with bills tucked into their backsides....5 short-billed dowitchers. i'm confident i will never get a better look at this bird. they were very tolerant, only flying off when a dog, naturally, disturbed them.
all in all, a delightful stop at this remarkably cool nevada natural area. the place was fairly spotless....it looked good. people generally seem to treat with respect and maybe even reverence.
then, heading up 95, i had lunch at a camp spot at Sportsman's Beach, which was, as usual, abondoned. so i could calmly enjoy the experience of the hills east of Walker Lake being reflected beautifully in the placid waters. very nice indeed. as old gaffers have always enjoyed saying, "you could hear yourself think out there."
so i thought i would stop in and take a look at Weber Rez. it'd been years since i'd ducked off the highway and took a look. i don't think i have ever spent the night at this forgotten pond. and you know what....Weber is ready for prime time. it looks really effing good. i spoke with a ranger, and she confirmed...the lake is full, healthy, and in great condition. it looked it. it's its own fishery.....more of a bass/catfish place than trout, i gather. but it really looked like a quality body of water, a precious thing indeed in the great basin.
birds there weren't much on my afternoon. the two birds on the lake--ruddy ducks and eared grebes. a few magpies and a say's phoebe and that was about it. obviously, the residents are still on their way. but yes, put weber on your list if you like desert lake experiences. it really is pretty damn gorgeous out there. and if you have a boat, take it out there. absolutely.