I got off work Sunday morning a little late. I usually get off around 0700, but because of an early transfer (I’m a paramedic and we have a small hospital here that transfers extremely ill patients to a larger hospital about an hour away) I didn’t get off until after 1000. I usually make rounds at Meredith when I get off, but I decided to drive about 20 miles south of town to a playa that gets runoff from nearby irrigated corn and milo fields to suppliment the scarce rainfall we have in the Panhandle. The farmers had stopped irrigating about a month ago so they could harvest, but we had a couple of pretty nice rains in the last few weeks so the playa was still in pretty good shape. I hadn’t been out that way for a week or so, but had seen a few Sandhill Cranes the last time I was there along with quite a lot of waterfowl and waders.
I pulled off onto a county road that runs beside the playa, stopped and sat there in my truck, dumbfounded. There had to have been at least a thousand Sandhill Cranes in and around the playa. Everywhere you looked there were Sandhills–in the water, in the rolling pastures to the north and east and in the newly harvested milo and corn fields to the south. I’ve never seen so many birds in one place., Here’s three of a dozen photos that have very little overlap.
Besides the cranes, there were hundreds of waterfowl and waders in the playa; American Coots, Northern Shovelers, Blue and Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintails, Mallards, American Avocets, Least Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitchers, American Wigeons, Red-winged Blackbirds, Western Meadowlarks, and several Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks. It was amazing. I also saw a new bird for my lists out there-a Greater White-fronted Goose.In other news–I saw three Greater Roadrunners
and the Western Grebes again at Fritch Fortress, and at Spring Canyon there were several Northern Flickers (this one is a Red-shafted Northern Flicker)and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker pair. I was only able to photograph the male-the female was too shy.
More pics in the Galleries.