Falling Lake Mead Water Level

My friends ask about the water level in Lake Mead and the best explanation I can give them is to show them this.
(click on a photo for a larger image.)

The lake has dropped almost 140 feet in the last few years, making the bathtub ring approximately the same height as a 14 story building.

And in spite of this rather obvious evidence, the powers-that-be in the Las Vegas valley continue to give permits for water wasters like golf courses and fountains, and they insist that you must plant trees and shrubs around any new or expanding commercial project. — I guess being in the middle of a drought, in the middle of the desert, doesn’t matter to a bunch of bureaucratic buffoons.

So there you have it folks. Pretty soon we will only be allowed to flush our toilets every other Tuesday, every home will have to be retrofitted with navy showers and we’ll probably all die of thirst anyway, but the valley will look green and cool while it happens.

— Every politician should be named Nero. —

Wetlands Morning

I grabbed my camera and headed out to the wetlands this morning about 8am which is at least an hour too late. It’s headed for summer here in the Las Vegas Valley and by 8 it’s already 80° give it another month and it will be in the low 90s. So it’s best to get into the habit of getting out at sunrise.

Since there are no dogs allowed, the wildlife isn’t quite as skittish as it is in a lot of other places.

Almost as soon as I hit the trail I saw a couple of cottontails:
This little guy was sniffing leaves probably trying to decide which ones were sweetest.

This character was sitting on a rock just a little ways off the trail eating the new leaves off the reeds. He stopped just long enough to decide I wasn’t a threat then went right back to munching.

And because I chose a different route than usual I came came across a little pond with a viewing platform that I’d never seen before, which turned out to be really cool. Within a matter of minutes I had shots of a whole bunch of interesting critters.

This black Phoebe was using a rock in the middle of the pond as his hunting platform. He’d fly out grab a bug and settle back down on the rock to enjoy his snack.

There were the usual coots,

and a marsh hen. –Marsh hens tend to be much shier than coots but this one clearly wasn’t impressed by an audience.

I spotted three or four turtles.
These are sliders like you buy at the pet store that people think are so cute. That is, “cute,” right up until the kids get bored then if the turtles are lucky they wind up here.

There were also large carp swimming in water that is so murky that you can only see them if they are within an inch or so of the surface.

This is way they look when they’re on the surface.

I applied onOne software’s “Le Freq Show” HDR preset so you could see the fish more clearly. (It was an easy eighteen inches long.)

But my favorite sighting was this Least Bittern: I’ve been chasing the little blighters for years and this is the first half way decent shot I’ve managed to get.

If you just want to go for a walk or go bird watching, the trails are well maintained, some paved and some cinder, with no skateboards, bicycles or roller blades allowed.

And if your children are old enough to stand still for a few minutes and not make noise this would be a great place to show them the local wildlife. Just remember to bring hats for the sun, sunscreen for your nose and bottled water. –The water that’s there is treated but undrinkable.

One last thing, any time you have water in the desert you are going to have lots of bugs. –In fact I believe that the reason you don’t see more flycatchers is that by 8 o’clock they’ve eaten so many bugs they’re too fat to fly. 😉

1909 Sears Motor Buggy

I was coming out of the Clark County Museum when a guy rolled up with this on his pickup ready to donate.

This is a 1909 -first year of production- Sears Motor Buggy as ordered through the Sears catalog for $395. You could either pick it up in Chicago or they would deliver it to your closest railroad depot.

This luxury automobile featured an air-cooled 10hp motor, dual chain drives, solid tires and a blazing top speed of 25mph.

History of the Sears Motor buggy

I took a few shots with my Canon S95 and after staring at them for a while I decided that some things look better in HDR or in this case as tone mapped images.