Sunday, May 23, 2021

Kalamazoo Road, White Pine County, Nevada

For some Sunday exploration, we decided to try out the Kalamazoo Road across the Schell Creek Range in White Pine County, Nevada. You reach the start of it about 38 miles north on the paved Highway 893 in Spring Valley. We weren't sure what the conditions would be early in the season, but it's been dry, so we figured we would be fine.

The turnoff is well-marked. There are camping spaces 4 miles up the road (plus many more that are scattered), and McGill, NV is 26 miles away.

The road is gravel but well-maintained. As you can see in the photos, it was a bit of a stormy day.

No one was camping at the campground area, but we did see a camper that had been left. A bathroom marks the location along with some picnic tables and grills. Kalamazoo Creek is nearby.

The road continued higher and soon we were seeing lots of white firs and aspen. And snow. Snow in late May!

We didn't think much of the snow until the road narrowed and curved around the side of the mountain.

We were in the clouds. And it kept snowing. One vehicle came from the other direction. That gave us confidence if he had made it over the mountain, so could we. Or at least we hoped.

This was the worst patch of snow, it was slick and a little deep. On the right is a steep drop off.

Fortunately we made it past and could look at the switchbacks we had just come up.

Some of the mountain mahogany were getting frosted.

We knew we were getting to the pass and were feeling good.

The wind was blowing so hard that we didn't even get out of the truck to read the sign!

As we started down into the Duck Creek Basin on the western side, we couldn't see much.

Fortunately, just a little bit down the clouds cleared and we saw an amazing display of wildflowers. I jumped out to snap a photo.

It was so beautiful!

Looking back up the mountain, we couldn't even see the top.

Before long, we crossed a cattleguard and started seeing some big houses. Soon we were back on pavement.

From there we headed through McGill to Ely, where we did some grocery shopping and headed home. To make a big loop from Ely would take about three hours, but it would be wise to plan on a whole day because there are so many fun things to stop at and explore. 

A few suggestions if you were to do this whole loop:
Comins Lake
Cave Lake State Park
Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Site
Cleve Creek Recreation Area
Swamp Cedars in Spring Valley
Kalamazoo Road overlooks 
McGill Swimming Pool
McGill Museum
Lots of great attractions in Ely (Nevada Northern Railway, Aquatic Center, Ward Mountain bike trails, Ely Art Bank, Renaissance Village, Garnet Hill, and more!)

We hope to go back, the Kalamazoo area looks so interesting, and we'd like to explore more when the weather is a little better!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Backyard Birds 2021

 For the past several years (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020) we've been keeping track of the birds in our backyard. It's been a way to teach the kids more about birds, teach ourselves more about birds, and just get to know our backyard better. 

For the first several years, we got about 35 species a year. Then in 2019 we got 45 species, and in 2020, with more time at home, we got 47 species! 

Here are some of the highlights.

Red-tailed Hawk (a pair nest nearby, so we see and hear them frequently)

Yellow-rumped warbler (arriving before the leaves!)

Canada Geese (they can be super noisy!)

White-crowned Sparrow (they hang out all year, but start singing in the spring and become a lot more noticeable; they love our bushes, including this currant bush)

Here's our list from 2020:

1. Black-billed Magpie (1.2.20)
2. European Starling (1.2.20)
3. Eurasian Collared Dove (1.2.20)
4. Red-tailed Hawk (1.3.20)
5. Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (1.6.20)
6. Common Raven (1.15.20)
7. Northern Flicker (1.15.20)
8. Great Horned Owl (1.20.20)
9. Canada Goose (1.29.20)
10. Pinyon Jay (
11. White-crowned Sparrow (2.10.20)
12. Bald Eagle (2.16.20)
13. Golden Eagle (2.16.20)
14. House Sparrow (2.19.20)
15. American Robin (3.10.20)
16. Western Meadowlark (3.10.20)
17. Sandhill Crane (3.12.20)
18. Say's Phoebe (3.17.20)
19. Turkey Vulture (3.22.20)
20. Belted Kingfisher (3.25.20)
21. Killdeer (3.25.20)
22. Pine Siskin (3.23.20)
23. American Goldfinch (4.3.20)
24. Yellow-rumped Warbler (4.9.20)
25. Red-winged Blackbird (4.8.20)
26. Brewer's Blackbird (4.10.20)
27. Wild Turkey (4.15.20)
28. Barn Swallow (4.16.20)
29. Western Kingbird (4.21.20)
30. Evening Grosbeak (4.26.20)
31. Great Blue Heron (4.28.20)
32. Swainson's Hawk (4.30.20)
33. Yellow Warbler (5.1.20)
34. Bullock's Oriole (5.3.20)
35. Black-chinned Hummingbird (5.3.20)
36. Violet-green Swallow (5.3.20)
37. Common Poorwill (5.3.20)
38. Western Wood-Pewee (5.12.20)
39. Northern Mockingbird (5.27.20)
40. Common Nighthawk (5.29.20)
41. Long-billed Curlew (6.2.20)
42. House Finch (6.8.20)
43. Broad-tailed Hummingbird (6.8.20)
44. Brown-headed Cowbird (6.22.20)
45. Chicken (6.22.20)
46. Black-headed Grosbeak (7.14.20)
47. Nuthatch (12.20.20)

In 2020 we had owls nest in our backyard. The literature says they don't often reuse a nest, but in 2021 they are back!

Great Horned Owl and Owlets

We're doing the challenge again in 2021, and it's not too late to join. Spring is a super time to see lots of birds as some migrate through and the summer arrivals come. I've really enjoyed seeing how the birds interact with the blooming trees and flowers. 
Cassin's Finch and apricot blossoms

American Goldfinch

More American Goldfinches on silver poplar tree

I've also kept my feeder out later, and that has attracted a Lazuli Bunting, such a beautiful bird!
Fuzzy Lazuli Bunting through the window

Join us in the quest for backyard birds. What are you seeing in your backyard?
We're hoping we can beat our 2020 record. We've already had a couple novel sightings this year (like Great Egrets), so it's possible. 
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