March 17, 2008

Whitewater Draw AZ

What a great tip from Reed & Elaine, new birding friends we met on the backpack in the Chiricahuas! The major attraction here is the enormous quantity of Sandhill Cranes that visit every year in Feb & Mar. These magnificant birds began arriving around 1PM in large flocks soaring gracefully in towards the far end of the shallow desert lake.

Each group, wave after wave, filling the clear blue sky with silhouettes and the continual sounds of their haunting railing.

A midafternoon stroll around the lake revealed the site played host to many smaller and familiar feathered friends......of course, the many smaller prey bring in the big hawks...........

Then on the far end of a group of willows we discover the Barn Owl roost. The area was "off limits", but a quick count from the outside of the thicket puts the numbers near a couple dozen.

Walking back towards our trailer later in the afternoon, I stopped under a large shelter to get a moment's break from fierce winds, looked up and discovered a pair of penetrating eyes in the dark confines of the canopy's upper bracing. A closer look through the binoculars confirmed another majestic owl ..... the Great Horned!

As the sun sank low into the western sky, graceful wings of the last few Sandhills danced across distant mountains....

finally leaving only the massive rocks bathed by the soft light of a desert dusk.....

The winds continued to howl well into the night, shaking the trailer and bringing with them a brisk twenty-five degree awakening. The view to the East at sunrise this morning was a pure delight!