Magazine article Sunset

Jackpot for Birds

Magazine article Sunset

Jackpot for Birds

Article excerpt

East of Reno, the Lahontan Valley is an avian winner

The desert spaces around Fallon, Nevada, an hour's drive east of Reno, are seldom visited. But if you love solitude and world-class wildlife spectacles, this is the place to go-especially this month, when temperatures cool down and the wildlife heats up. From August through October, and again in March and April, the area attracts 500,000 shorebirds and waterfowl. So important are the wetlands that they've been designated a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve-a site of global significance.

When I first arrived in Lahontan Valley, I was disappointed. The alkaliencrusted desert did not match the tales I'd heard of wetlands teeming with birds. Then I negotiated the dusty road to Carson Lake and my jaw droppedbefore me waded some 10,000 longlegged beauties, graceful American avocets, amid a sea of smaller shorebirds. The soft, plaintive calls of hundreds of phalaropes rose against the clamor of gulls, herons, and ibis from nearby marshes. …

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