Sandhill Cranes In The Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area

January 22, 2020
Sandhill Cranes In The Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area

We found the Sandhill cranes in the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area today and it was amazing.

Starting from Tombstone and headed to the Whitewater Draw along Davis Road took us twice as long as it should.

It is hawk central along this road and we saw Red-tailed, Swainson’s and Harris Hawks and the photo opportunities were endless.

Red-tailed hawk taking flight

Red-tailed hawk taking flight

As I was photographing a Red-tailed hawk all of a sudden I could hear the cranes overhead and it was musical.

Turns out we weren’t very far away from where they spend their day resting and the parking lot was full of people watching the cranes fly in.

Sandhill cranes flying in for landing

Sandhill cranes flying in for landing

Around 10 – 11 am the birds are coming back from their morning feed to rest until they head out in the afternoon to eat again.

The noise and the amount of birds is something that one needs to experience as my explanations don’t do it justice.

Sandhill crane drinking

Sandhill crane drinking

As I limped around the draw there were lots of ducks as well as the cranes but as the water was up quite high I didn’t see any shorebirds.

Northern Shovelers in flight

Northern Shovelers in flight

Cinnamon Teal feeding

Cinnamon Teal feeding

The occasional black phoebe appeared and we saw one say’s phoebe as we were leaving.

Black phoebe sitting on stick

Black phoebe sitting on stick

At one point in time I was watching the cranes and all of a sudden they all took off in flight.

Something had scared them but I couldn’t see what it was.

The snow geese that were over with them were spooked as well and I got some great video footage so you can see the number of birds in one location.

There was a similar amount of birds over on the other side of the draw so we are talking in the thousands.

Turn up your volume for the video below and you can hear the cranes chirping and purring.

Sandhill cranes feeding

Sandhill cranes feeding

After 2 1/2 hours (Rob is so patient) I finally tore myself away from this incredible sight and we headed down the road towards Chiricahua National Monument and Far Away Ranch.

Mexican Jay

Mexican Jay

We have been to the Chiricahua’s many times in the past but it’s always been one of our favourite spots in Arizona.

In the parking lot, there were a couple of motorhomes with BC license plates so Rob went over and talked to them.

Turns out they were from Campbell River and Mission and as we were leaving another RV from Salt Spring Island rolled in.

Small world.

The mountains were as imposing as ever and at the ranch, I just wanted to walk in the door, light a fire and snuggle down for the night.

Chiricahua Mountains

Chiricahua Mountains

Far Away Ranch

Far Away Ranch

But someone inconsiderately had locked the door so we had to head back to the hotel in Tombstone.

Along the way, we saw numerous other birds and the hawks were out in force, flying across the fields looking for dinner.

Loggerhead Shrike looking for evening meal

Loggerhead Shrike looking for evening meal

Roadrunner between the barbed wire

Roadrunner between the barbed wire

And Rob spotted this massive pair of horns that was leading a herd of cattle across the scrub.

Large bull with massive horns

Large bull with massive horns at dusk

Tired and fulfilled, it was a great day for pictures.

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