WHAT TO EXPECT This urban lake is best known for its waterfowl and gulls, especially during fall and winter. A paved 1-mile walking and jogging path around the lake provides an excellent opportunity to scan and study the large flocks. Patient birders are often rewarded with an unusual gull or duck. More than 110 species have been recorded here.
Best time of year: November through March, but birding the trees around the park during the spring can be quite productive.
Notable species: Hooded and Common Mergansers, Snow and Ross's Geese, and occasional Barrow's Goldeneye and Eurasian Wigeon may be seen among the sizable flocks of wintering waterfowl, which include Redhead, Ruddy Duck, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Gadwall, and Canada Goose. A surprising number of raptors frequent the lake. Glaucous-winged, Glaucous, Thayer's, Mew or Glaucous-winged x Western hybrid gull individuals can sometimes be found within the large flocks of California and Ring-billed Gulls, particularly in the winter. Also look for small numbers of wintering Herring Gull. Black-crowned Night-Heron have roosted in the large trees at the northeast end of the lake.
HOW TO GET THERE From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive approximately 1.5 miles south on US 395 to Exit 65A Plumb Lane. Turn right on East Plumb Lane and proceed 1.5 miles west to Lakeside Drive. Turn left (south) on Lakeside Drive, drive two short blocks, and bear left to the small parking lot at the north end of the lake.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE Follow the paved one-mile path around the lake. Note the small island in the south end of the lake, which has provided nesting habitat for a number of species including California Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, and Snowy Egret.
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS Side Trip A Incline Village General Improvement District Wetlands Enhancement Facility: On the east side of US 395, this area of natural marshes and extensive evaporation ponds is often productive for a variety of migratory and nesting waterfowl and wetland birds. Permission to enter must be arranged in advance: Call the Incline Village Water Treatment Office (775- 832-1289).
Northbound on US 395, turn right (east) on Johnson Lane (4.9 miles north of the intersection with SR 88). Travel 1.9 miles to Vicky Lane. Turn left (north) onto Vicky and drive north 2.3 miles, crossing Stephanie Lane at 1 mile, to the gate for the facility (last 0.2 mile is dirt). Bird the natural marshes and evaporation ponds by automobile and foot. Backtrack south 1.3 miles to Stephanie Lane. Turn right (west) onto Stephanie and travel 1.9 miles to US 395. Turn right (north) onto US 395 to return to Reno.
Side Trip B Carson River Park: This city park on the west bank of the Carson River in Carson City provides a paved parking lot (restrooms, handicapped access) and a short trail to a viewing platform overlooking the river. There is also an entry turnstile accessing the east side of Silver Saddle Ranch (Side Trip C), where trails to the left along the Carson River are good for songbirds and raptors. Traveling north through downtown Carson City, turn off US 395 to the right (east) at Fifth Street (stoplight) and proceed 2.4 miles to Carson River Road. Turn right (south) and go 2 miles to the paved parking lot on the right just before the river bridge.
Side Trip C Silver Saddle Ranch: This publicly owned ranch is comprised of 848 acres of open space along the west side of the Carson River. It may be accessed either through the turnstile at Carson River Park (Side Trip B) or by backtracking from the park 0.6 mile on Carson River Road to the ranch's main entrance on the left side (south) of the road. Proceed 0.5 mile on the dirt road to the main parking area by the ranch buildings. Follow the path between the buildings to the ranch house, where a 1.5-mile loop trail leads east between pastures to the fence line along the Carson River. Here the trail turns to the right and follows the river.