Wonderful opportunities await nature enthusiasts during the first Wings and Wildlife Festival set for March 12-15 along the Colorado River, centered in Laughlin. Organized by a coalition formed in 2006 and called the Southern Nevada Bird and Wildlife Trails Partnership, the event showcases unique creatures frequenting varied habitat along the Colorado River in a tri-state region. The festival brings together experts from local, state and federal agencies, organizations involved with birds and wildlife, outfitters, tour companies and tourism agencies.
For a $20 registration fee, festival-goers enjoy an evening of wine tasting and art in nature exhibits and a weekend filled with seminars and guided nature walks. For a few dollars more, registrants enjoy a buffet banquet and keynote speaker on March 13. Longer guided field trips with transportation included or day-long adventures including a box lunch are offered to limited groups of registrants for reduced rates by participating outfitters.
For an overview of festival activities, times and locations, access the partnership’s Web site at www.snbwtp.org or Laughlin area information at www.LaughlinBirds.com. Web sites of involved organizations, such as the Red Rock Audubon Society, also have festival details and links. Those visiting Laughlin find information at the Laughlin Tourism Commission, the Riverside Hotel and other sites. Register online or by calling (800) 308-2253.
Although festival-goers can commute the 90 miles from the Las Vegas area to events centered in Laughlin, they will miss out on many events, particularly those that begin early or finish late. Reserve your accommodations as soon as possible. Hotels, resorts and motels abound in the Laughlin-Bullhead City area. Festival participants using recreational vehicles or camping find facilities at several parks and private sites in the area.
Festival registrants find fascinating information available from experts conducting a dozen free seminars during the weekend. Subjects cover a wide range of information on plants, birds and animals, including raptors, burrowing owls, falcons, reptiles and Big Horn sheep. Learn more about many things, including identification of birds, using binoculars and enticing hummingbirds to your yard.
Nature walks guided by experts exploit varied habitats in and near Laughlin. Locales such as Laughlin’s Riverwalk, Sportsman’s Park, Rotary Park, Lake Mohave’s Fisherman’s Trail, the Colorado River Nature Center, Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area and Arizona’s Colorado River Greenway Heritage Trail promise observation of abundant wildlife and birds during these free ambles.
Specialized tours and adventures for which there are additional fees take place each day and some evenings during the festival. Since participation on most of these guided tours is limited, register early for the ones most interesting to you. Some tours take a few hours, while others last all day.
The tours offer opportunities to explore nearby points of interest by van, on foot, in canoes and kayaks, and on rafts. Visit such places as Topock Gorge, Topock Marsh in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness, the forests of the Hualapai Mountains, the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, the Willow Beach Fish Hatchery and the Black Canyon of the Colorado.
A couple of tours take place during evening hours. On one tour, experience the magic of a desert sunset followed by starlight and a full moon as you kayak on the river in a secluded lagoon. On another, participate in a mist net survey of bats at a desert spring after dark.
When you register for the tours, inquire about clothing and equipment you might need. Dress for the activity in layers with sturdy footwear and clothing you won’t mind getting wet or dirty. Label all you gear with your name and phone number, and carry it in a small pack. During daytime activities, drink plenty of water, about a gallon of water is advised, and wear sun block and a hat. For nighttime tours, you’ll need a reliable flashlight and a flash-equipped camera.
Margo Bartlett Pesek’s column appears on Sundays.