Mountain chickadee, Desert Creek, NV
This is a mountain chickadee I spotted while on one of the later sample points along Desert Creek this morning. It and its mate were building a nest in an aspen cavity, so they were still around when the count ended, allowing me to snap a few photos of them while they flitted around amongst the surrounding single-leaf pinyon, mountain mahogany, willow and aspen.
Desert Creek flows north through the Wellington Hills on the north end of the Sweetwater Range, on the far western edge of the great basin. While the access road isn't the greatest, its proximity to the civilization of the Smith Valley to the north makes Desert Creek a favorite for recreational campers and off-road vehicles. While it is apparent that bird life and human recreation can both coexist around Desert Creek, its hard to say what impact campsite litter and ORV stream crossings have on the health of the creek. I also talked to a couple of old-timers camped nearby yesterday evening that expressed concern that an out-of-control campfire would take hold in the extremely dry pinyon forest lining the hillsides down to the thin belt of riparian habitat along the creek. Hopefully the people who enjoy the beauty of Desert Creek can be responsible enough to mitigate the impacts of their usage.
- Nikon COOLPIX P100