Desert Shores Wildlife
- Night Heron
- Night Heron
In Las Vegas, you generally think of wildlife in the form of things that happen on the strip. But because of the lakes, Desert Shores brings its residents spectacular wildlife of the more natural kind. Waterfowl in particular see the lakes in disbelief as they fly over the desert, and can't resist stopping and giving everyone a treat.
The people who live here enjoy many advantages. But few of us expected nature to have such an impact on us here, and those who take time to look are often in awe.
The photo above was taken on a chimney at the Desert Shores Racquet Club. A great blue heron enjoys yet another incredible sunset from an improbable perch.
Look through the rest of the tabs here to see the kind of surprises that await residents!
The Swans of Desert Shores
We'll start with some of our more permanent dwellers, the swans. Desert Shores is home to several Australian black swans, occasionally some mute swans and at least one South American black-necked swan.
We'll start with the black swans, which are exceptionally gentle with tiny voices. But they're gorgeous.
The swans pair off and have nested here. We have cygnets to prove it!
The babies will ride on their parents backs for longer float trips. Mom and Dad say "get off my back" when the kids are relative teenagers, the opposite of the trend seen in humans.
The mated pairs are extremely attentive to each other and to their young.
Here, a Justice of the Peace shows that weddings of all types are held on the lakes of Desert Shores.
If you're a mute swan on the Desert Shores lakefront, sometimes you really just have to show off.
Ducks really don't get enough respect. They're fun to watch and have all kinds of different personalities. Desert Shores has several varieties, including Indian runners, muscovys, mallards, wood ducks and quite a few we have yet to identify.
This Indian runner loved the camera. If he saw it come out, he would offer various poses. As a result, he became the Desert Shores poster child asking residents not to feed the birds. He was chastised by other ducks for helping with such a plot, but remained loyal to the camera.
Another family looking for a house in Desert Shores.
But this one demanded a place by the water.
Family outings are common in the community.
This is another reason why ducks don't get enough respect. For two years, this little duck led around a pack of much larger domestic white geese. We're not sure what skills or blackmail granted him this exalted position, but he led them to the south end of Lake Jacqueline every morning and then north every evening to roost.
Desert Shores is home or temporary home to a variety of geese. Species run the worldwide gamut from domestic white geese to Chinese geese to Canada geese.
These particular Chinese geese had goslings here, but eventually decided to move on.
This was one of our many "rare sights": a flock of Canada geese who noisily landed on Lake Jacqueline and seemed to take a liking to the only South American black-necked swan that we've seen here. Canada and South America. Desert Shores is a melting pot.
Great Blue Heron
These gigantic, majestic birds love Desert Shores. They come and go, with no visitors staying more than a few days. They're not hard to spot, and you have to be careful not to sprain your neck when you do a double-take to see one so close.
The guy (or girl) loved one of our rare rainstorms.
Both of these birds were on the Racquet Club lakefront, the one on the left after the same rainstorm and the one on the right on a perfect day.
Some of them just seem huskier than others, like this interloper on the Racquet Club docks.
But like us, they just can't resist a good sunset.
Cormorants Passing Through
These birds don't stay longer than a few days at a time, but they're like a big, gregarious gang and they're incredible fishermen. Fisherbirds?
Suddenly, they show up in front of the Sail Club at the Racquet Club, slapping backs, giving high fives and watching for fish to jump.
Standing on a boat and looking handsome. Or at least so he says.
Enjoying the Racquet Club docks, these guys seem like they're smoking in back of the restaurant.
This is heavily-zoomed into a lucky photo. They really are great at fishing, and they sure seem to enjoy it!
Seasonal Coot Migrations
Some might think that most of our coots play golf. Not so. Desert Shores is the proud recipient of large flocks of coots twice a year as they fly by one direction or the other. With no disrespect, they're the clumsiest, funniest birds we see. They don't seem coordinated on land, and they don't seem coordinated on water. But they get by on charm and comedy.
This probably isn't going to end well.
At least there is strength in numbers. But sadly, not IQ.
It took us a while to figure out what these enigmatic visitors were. You don't see them often, but they grab your attention when you do. Usually you don't have a camera. But we lucked out twice. The top photo was a juvenile snapped from a boat tied to the Racquet Club docks. The bottom one was an adult in, amazingly enough, our yard.
One of the rarest sights residents have seen was a huge group of pelicans that landed in front of the Desert Shores Community Center. They were very quiet and very still, maybe resting to continue their trip. You never know when you're going to see your next "first"!
Every once in a while, you'll be surprised by great egrets, with the occasional snowy egret. Oddly to us, you'll usually see the great egrets in trees in groups of one to four. Having a camera ready, of course, is another thing altogether.
This one was bouncing around a tree near the Racquet Club lakefront.
This was another kind of exotic find. It was seen wandering the Racquet Club waterfront, and no one had any idea what it was. There was time to get a blurry picture, and finally it was identified by an ornithologist from the photo. There are several other birds that have flown through where no one gets a photo ... so it's always worth keeping an open eye (and a camera) when you walk around Desert Shores!
Desert Shores Turtle Population
No, we don't have any desert tortoises in Desert Shores, but we do have a small population of red-eared sliders that live next to the Breakwater Bridge and have found some habitat there. Some are the size of dinner plates. The population has been remarkably stable over the years.
Desert Shores Wildlife Signs
Desert Shores recently put quite a bit of effort into branding and new signage. Part of that effort was creating National Park-like signage around the lakes, explaining to people what they're seeing. The wildlife descriptions from some of those signs are reproduced below. If you walk around Desert Shores, look for them!