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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Nevada: Ruby Lake

July 16th, 2010 · 2 Comments

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My good luck held. After my exploration of Great Basin National Park in Nevada with my friend Mark, I had a few free days before I had to be back home. But I thought that I had already seen all of Nevada’s great natural beauty.

I was wrong, as I discovered when I happened to see some Leanin’ Tree postcards in a gas station mini-mart. I took note of them because the Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art in Boulder is one of my favorites. One of its postcards of Ruby Lake opened my eyes to the beauty that I might see there. Immediately I decided to go well out of my way to visit the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge 150 miles northwest of Great Basin.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages 584 of these refuges. Every state has at least one of them. In fact, Nevada has seven.

While these refuges protect more than 200 species of fish, I would rather eat than photograph them. The refuges also protect 220 species of mammals and 250 species of reptiles and amphibians. But their great strength is their more than 700 species of birds. And now that my friend Sharon has turned me on to birding and I have a long telephoto lens, I really wanted to photograph birds after seeing so few of them on my trip to Nevada.

Ruby Lake is the outstanding bird refuge in Nevada. More than 220 species of birds regularly visit it. They have it easy, since they can fly there. People like me have to drive miles down dirt roads to reach this isolated outpost of birding. I went there on Tuesday, July 6, when Mark had to return to his job in Los Angeles. The nearest towns to Ruby Lake are Ely, Nevada, about 95 miles southeast, and Elko, Nevada, about 60 miles northwest. Few if any gas stations, restaurants, or motels are any closer.

But I am so glad that I went out of my way to see and photograph the birds of Ruby Lake. I finally got a chance to see many of Nevada’s birds.

A White-Faced Ibis

A White-Faced Ibis

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An American Avocet

An American Avocet

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A Gull

A Gull

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Please Help Me by Identifying this Beautiful Bird

A Female or Juvenile Common Merganser

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Probably Common, But I Need Help on Identifying this Bird Too

A Black-crowned Night Heron

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When I asked at the refuge headquarters about the best place to photograph birds, the ranger told me that they have a blind that is normally available by reservation only but that I could use. The refuge centers on 17,000 acres of  bulrush marsh interspersed with pockets of open water. Dikes maintain the ponds and also provided me with access to the waterfowl. For many other shots my SUV served as my blind. As I walked out to the blind I came across this large insect.

A Dragonfly

A Dragonfly

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As soon as I reached the blind and opened it up I saw this yellow-headed blackbird apparently waiting for me right in front of the blind.

A Yellow-headed Blackbird

A Yellow-headed Blackbird

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This view below of the blind shows something of what this wonderful refuge is like.

The Blind in the Marsh

The Blind in the Marsh

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The Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge is certainly remote. But not too remote for me to plan on returning there some day soon.

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Posted in: Photography

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Les Bygrave // Jul 27, 2010 at 3:12 am

    The second bird looks like

    Black-crowned Night-Heron

    Les

  • 2 David Mendosa // Jul 27, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Dear Les,

    Thank you! I’m sure that you are right.

    David

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