My work as a geoarchaeologist keeps me in the backcountry of Nevada for long parts of the year. I am fortunate to see the sagebrush ocean, while sometimes venturing into the sharper seas of the Mojave, across the seasons. In the late spring of 2023 I was mapping inset landforms in Kobeh Valley, Nevada, along Highway 50 when I cut across the valley on a dusty road to check out a gravel quarry. These quarries, developed for road construction and repair, stand out as small hills amongst the level sage. I seek them out, detouring haphazardly from my path, to look at the stratigraphic window into the landforms that the provide. I have been known to call gravel quarries ‘pluvial lake indicators’ as highway departments can often find ancient gravel bars where no other evidence exists.
On this day in early June, with a thunderstorm in the distance, I drop behind a horded pile of gravel at the edge of broad pit to find that is rim encompasses a postage-stamp oasis of wetlands and ponds; it is maybe the size of a couple tennis courts. Two pair of American Avocets wander the shore, flushing in a quick circle as I approach and stop dead in my tracks. I abandon my truck, quietly grabbing my camera and a long telephoto. I will lay at the pond margin a while until the settle in to my quiet presence. It is worth the wait.
I would love to hear what you think of these. And hear of any places you might have seen these lovely birds in the drylands of western North America, or wherever your journeys, near and far, have taken you.