WHAT TO EXPECT Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a large wetlands area surrounded by agricultural fields about 11 miles northeast of Yerington. The area is managed for waterfowl and has numerous dikes and extensive areas of buffaloberry.
Best time of year: October through May
Notable species: Black, Caspian, and Forster's Terns as well as Osprey are present in spring and summer. This is one of the best spots in northern Nevada to see Great-tailed Grackle, Black Phoebe, Blue Grosbeak (usually in the buffaloberry), Ash-throated Flycatcher, Wild Turkey, and a variety of raptors. During migration the area is good for waterfowl and shorebirds; large numbers of waterfowl winter here.
Precautions: Check with the WMA Headquarters (775-463-2741) for hunting season dates in fall, winter, and spring. In wet weather the area gets muddy; stay on the roads.
HOW TO GET THERE From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, take I-80 east approximately 31 miles to Exit 46 West Fernley. Drive into town; turn right (south) on Alternate US 95 to Hawthorne/Yerington. Follow Alternate US 95 through Silver Springs to Wabuska, approximately 34 miles south of Fernley. Continue another 1.1 miles to Sierra Way. Sierra Way, however, may be closed October 1 through January 1 for hunting. If so, continue another 5.4 miles south to Miller Lane, drive east 3 miles, turn left (north) into the WMA, and reverse the directions given in the Popular Birding Route.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE If you use Sierra Way, drive 1.5 miles to Lux Lane (dirt) and turn right. There is a good marshy area on the left side of the road at 1.6 miles. Turn left at that point and proceed to the Fort Churchill Pond parking area. Bird the area, then continue a short walk up to the top of the nearby dike, a good spot for accessing the south end of the cooling ponds associated with the Fort Churchill Power Station.
Return to Lux Lane and continue south 2.2 miles past the WMA Headquarters to the road entering the pond areas, birding the buffaloberry along the side of the road. The extensive pond areas may be birded by vehicle or on foot. Continue 2.8 miles on Lux Lane to Miller Lane. Turn right (west) on Miller Lane to return to Alternate US 95, or turn left (east) to bird the surrounding agricultural fields. To the east, Miller Lane turns south and becomes Aiazzi Lane, which ends in 2.0 miles at Pete Hendricks Road. Turn right and continue birding another 2.3 miles, to where Pete Hendricks Road connects with Alternate US 95. (Side Trip A) Turn right (west) to drive into Yerington. To return to Reno, continue north on Alternate US 95 back to I-80 west in Fernley.
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS Side Trip A Walker Lake: From the intersection of Pete Hendricks Road and Alternate US 95, take Alternate US 95 left (east) 25 miles to Schurz, then continue 19 miles south on US 95 to the lake. From Sportsman's Beach just off of US 95 scope for Common Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, and Long-tailed Duck, as well as inland stray coastal migrants such as Harlequin Duck, Red-necked Grebe, and jaegers. Call the Nevada Division of Wildlife in Fallon (775-423-3171) for information on the Walker Lake Loon Festival held in April.