On our trip to Las Vegas last month - a getaway we typically take in winter - I was able to get in some good birding, including discovering a new park to explore. At one of my favorite hotspots - the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve - I hit a jackpot of lifers, including one that seemed least of all but turned out to be a great sighting, a least sandpiper.
A short boardwalk at the preserve leads out into a shallow pond, and along the muddy shore a single peep was busy peeping his way through every crevice and cranny, searching for the next tidbit. I was able to get quite close to the bird, which was fortunate, for it was tiny! That alone is a good field mark for this species; the least sandpiper is the smallest shorebird in North America. The buff feathers with dark cores, the bright yellow legs, and the dark, slightly decurved bill were all additional clues, and a new lifer was added to my list.
It wasn't the only bird I saw for the first time on this trip; the black-tailed gnatcatcher and orange-crowned warbler also joined my life list in Vegas, and also at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve - what a winning streak of birding! I'm always amazed at the incredible diversity of birds in Las Vegas, and I have never yet failed to get a lifer when visiting that fabulous city. I can't wait to go back!