Tuesday, February 1, 2011

White-faced Ibis

While walking around the ponds at Clark County Wetlands Park in Henderson, NV, I saw some Double-crested Cormorants. The night before, I had been updating my list for Nevada and noticed that Double-crested Cormorants are common in the area, so I was happy to have seen some so I could check them off.
Not long after, I saw one flying towards me. As I was taking pictures of it approaching and it got closer, I got a better look at its bill and realized this was not a Double-crested Cormorant.
As I watched it fly past I hoped that it would land nearby so I could get a better look. Good luck was with me as it set down in some reeds not far from where I was.
As I approached the area I saw it come down, I noticed an entry into the reeds that had been formed when some sort of vehicle had driven through (There is a fair amount of improvements being done in the park). One thing I discovered about birding in the desert, is that most vegetation you might step on is most likely bone dry and will make quite a loud crunch, so I tried to be as quite as possible so I wouldn't scare it away it it did turn out to be up ahead.
Luck continued to be on my side as the path turned towards a small muddy pond where the bird was scavenging for food. Unfortunately, this is where my luck turned towards the worse. The angle was awful as the bright sun was behind the bird. None-the-less, I took some pictures, if for no other reason than to help identify the bird later.
But then I realized that if I turned back and proceeded further down the main trail, I could approach from the other side and have the sun front light the bird. I had to walk atop a large irrigation pipe to reach the pond and was able to do so without flushing the bird. The top two pictures are the result of this effort.
Once I got back to my room and looked in my field guide, I discovered that this was a non-breeding White-faced Ibis. This is the first Ibis of any type I have seen. It was quite an interesting bird.

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