The birding part of my vacation started when I spent 3 early-morning hours at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve outside Las Vegas. I did an hour's walk alone and then spent almost 2 hours being driven around on a golfcart by one of the volunteer staff.
The site was surprisingly beautiful for a re-purposed sewage plant.
Birds were everywhere, as were desert cotton-tail rabbits.
The various ponds had a good selection of ducks, many with ducklings in tow.
Male Ruddy Duck
Common Gallinules also had young with them, as did American Coots.
I was excited to see many Western Grebes, in addition to some Eared Grebes.
There were even a few Pied-billed Grebes.
A Great Blue Heron and a Least Bittern disappeared too fast to photograph but a Green Heron was less skittish.
Several Canada Geese were hanging our on a path, right next to where a Killdeer was sitting on her eggs.
Shorebirds included Least Sandpipers, Wilson's Phalaropes and Black-necked Stilts (below).
A Marbled Godwit was feeding near a few American Avocets.
Several other species were flitting or running around near the ponds but were too distant or too fast to photograph: Bewick's and Marsh Wrens, Great-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Crissal's Thrasher, Verdin, Greater Roadrunner and Yellow-headed Blackbirds.
I was luckier with some Black-tailed Gnatcatchers and a Costas's Hummingbird at the Visitor Center.
My 40th species of the morning was a Say's Phoebe.
If I ever go back to Las Vegas, I will certainly go back to the Henderson Preserve. It was a beautiful site with excellent birding, and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. It is rather a pity that in the summer it is open only from 6:00 to noon.