At the beginning of July 2016, J, the kids, and I headed to Northeast Nevada to the Ruby Lake NWR and the Ruby Mountains area. We decided on this area after reading about sightings of Himalayan Snowcock (Tetraogallus himalayensis) around the Lamoille and Island Lakes. This introduced species in now an established population and the only one in the Americas.
Our first stop was to the South Ruby Campground for our first night stay and we were treated to a rain shower and some nice rainbows. The best campsites are on the west side, with the intense sun, shade is a premium. The next morning we headed out for a slow drive through the Refuge. It was great to finally see White-faced Ibis in full breeding plumage. The image below was captured with my D7200 and a 300mm (450mm eqiv) f/2.8 lens using 1/1250s, f/5.0, and ISO200. I must have captured her at the bottom of the wing beat since the wing tip show no motion.
There were young birds all over the Refuge. The young Pied-bill Grebes were about the same age as the group of Canvasback and the Coots were very young maybe fledged 3-5 days. At the campground I saw a lifer (first time seeing a species) the Juniper Titmouse (Baeolophus ridgwayi) but it was a brief encounter and no photos.
Along with the birds there were numerous dragonflies and in the photo below I captured a Meadowhawk with my D800 using a 70-200mm f/4 lens. I'm a little surprised that the bokeh (soft focus background) using f/6.3 (190mm, 1/640s, ISO220) but with that mid f-stop most of the Meadowhawk was in focus and background was a bonus. For a complete eBird list for the Refuge go here (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30598184).
We were planning on spending 3 nights at this campground but after driving into the Lamoille Canyon we changed our plans. We were able to find a campsite at the Thomas Canyon Campground located about mid way into the Lamoille Canyon (note: the best campsites are 22 (my favorite), 23, 25 by the creek, 9A, and 24 with 2nd being 17, 23, 28, and 27). We woke up the next morning watching the sunrise on Mt. Fitzgerald, which is south of the campground (see photo of the week). We drove up the Lamoille Canyon to end of the road and the start of the trail head into the Ruby Mountains and the alpine lakes. This was a scouting trip and we saw a Cassin's Finch and on the way back along the road I was a Dusky Grouse (lifer). In my excitement in announcing the find I scared the hell out of J. I stopped the car, backed up and was able to capture the girl walking away.
The wildflowers were in full bloom and the photos below are four of the 20 to 30 species we saw in the valley. Half of the species I never saw before and it was as enjoyable as seeing the birds.
An eBirder reported a Gray Catbird at Thomas Canyon campsite 36 and on the second day I was able to capture the bird singing away. When I was looking for the bird the people in the site said that he was singing all night long; although pleasant for a birder it didn't seen to be a hit with them. This bird was outside its normal western range at this latitude being the very NE corner of Nevada. At the Nature Trail, about a mile into the canyon from the campground, we saw a Red-naped Sapsucker going from Aspen to Aspen.
Our fourth day: the plan was to hike to Lamoille Lake in search of the Snowcock and on the way we saw Cassin's Finches, Lincoln Sparrow, a new sub-species the Dark-eyed Junco (Gray-headed) Junco hyemalis caniceps, Mountain Bluebird and at the Lake an immature American Dipper. Another new sub-species we saw was the Dark-lored White-crowned Sparrow. Although we didn't see or hear the Snowcock it was a beautiful hike.
Back at the campground I was tortured by the Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus) buzzing around, the butterflies, and the Yellow Warblers. I spent most of the afternoon trying to photograph them and was able to get good photos of 2 of the 3.
The kids are our Leonbergers the gentle giant Kodi and the Jekyll and Hyde 6 year pup Kaja. She just loves BRs (bunny rabbits) and SQs (squirrels) and every day she almost pulls my arm out of its socket but she is mostly good. If you ever plan a trip to Nevada I would highly recommend this area for its alpine beauty and for the fact that it's off the beaten path so no crowds. More photo on my Flickr site of Ruby Lake NWR (https://www.flickr.com/photos/byjcb/albums/72157668374856034) and Ruby Mountains (https://www.flickr.com/photos/byjcb/albums/72157670040647390)
Your comments are welcomed and if you have any questions about the photo or any other leave me a message.