Fallon, NV (PRWEB) August 30, 2011
The bird count just got higher at one of the most significant wetlands in the Western United States, Lahontan Valley near Fallon, Nevada located along America’s Loneliest Road. As a result of abundant late spring rains and snowpack in the Sierra Nevada range, the area is reporting record-breaking water levels and more water means more available habitat for wildlife.
“Water levels in the Lahontan Valley should maintain current levels well into the fall migrating season, offering plenty of excellent bird viewing opportunities,” stated Bill Henry, Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge biologist.
Refuge biologists report an excellent growth of Sago pondweed, which is a primary food crop for migrating waterfowl. On August 16, 2011, an aerial survey of the refuge reported one of the highest mallard duck counts for this time of year. Waterfowl production on the refuge was above average, with many ducks nesting twice, successfully producing two age groups of ducklings.
Fallon’s Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge is at the core of the Lahontan Valley wetlands providing outstanding birding opportunities and scenically located at the foot of the Stillwater Mountains. The area attracts more than 250,000 swans, geese and ducks annually, including more than 10,000 Tundra Swans and large numbers of Canvasback ducks in the winter. Shorebird migration is also spectacular and the area attracts its share of rare birds, including Brown Pelican, Surf and White-winged Scoter, Pomerine Jaeger and Silt Sandpiper.
More than 280 bird species are thriving in this unique area of Nevada’s Pony Express Territory and according to birding officials, general refuge birding has been best in the early morning or late evening hours, with hundreds of White-faced Ibis, American white pelicans, Black-necked stilts, Avocets, Dowitchers, gulls, various raptors, and a large number of Phalaropes concentrating in newly flooded marsh areas both on Stillwater refuge and the nearby Carson Lake about 10 miles to the south.
As a reminder, the refuge allows seasonal waterfowl hunting, which opens this year on October 15, north of Division Road. However, the southern part of the refuge is designated as a wildlife sanctuary where no hunting is allowed, but public access and wildlife viewing areas are open all year.
Visitors can check out the Tule Trail off Hunter Road, an easy 1.5 mile loop-walking path with interpretive signs, rest benches and a photo blind at the waters edge. Stillwater Point Reservoir provides an elevated viewing platform at the end of a short interpretive walkway. A refuge map and information brochures are available at the trail start.
For those wishing to remain more mobile, the Foxtail Lake tour loop is a 7-mile driving tour that begins across from the Stillwater Point reservoir parking area. The road traverses several desert habitat types, and midway through is a covered group use shelter with picnic tables, restrooms and a short boardwalk leading to two viewing platforms over the Foxtail lake.
Representing Nevada’s most important desert oasis, the Lahontan Valley wetlands are designated as a site of international importance by the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network and named a “Globally Important Bird Area” by the American Bird Conservancy; and an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Visit Lahontan Audubon Society http://www.nevadaaudubon.org
According to the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, birding is one of the fastest-growing activities in the country and among one of the most popular outdoor activities pursued. Recent surveys indicates 82 million people average 100 days of birding per year which has grown by over 8 million from the survey period.
For more information on birding in the Lahontan Valley, lodging, dining and other outdoor activities, visit http://www.fallontourism.com or call 866.432.5566. Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge http://www.fws.gov/stillwater/ or call 775.423.5128.
About Pony Express Territory
Nevada’s Pony Express Territory sits on 17 million acres of wide open space with 150 years of rich history, rugged undisturbed nature and black night skies. The Territory is where the Pony Express riders once galloped along its main trail, now Highway 50, connecting the six adventurous towns of Dayton, Fallon, Fernley, Austin, Eureka and Ely. 1,840 miles of wilderness was crossed in the Nevada “Pony Express Territory”. Twenty years ago Life Magazine designated this section of Nevada State Highway 50 – “America’s Loneliest Road.” For more information, visit http://www.ponyexpressnevada.com or call 1-888-359-9449.
Follow us on Facebook: