Tens of thousands of sandhill cranes spend their winters in Cochise county, Arizona (and neighbouring areas). Many congregate at Whitewater Draw. I was staying at a hotel in Willcox and had been advised that a visit to Cochise Lake (just a short drive outside of Willcox) would be worthwhile. Since I was planning a trip to Whitewater the next day, I decided to check out Cochise Lake just as the day was drawing to a close. I hadn’t expected to see sandhill cranes, but they were here in abundance.
The lake is not large, but it is surrounded by a significant grassland. It was also not very busy; just a couple of cars drove through while I was there. The major recording challenge were from I-10 in the distance, as well as a substantial commercial rail line that passes through, and stops at Willcox.
The picture above shows a group of sandhill cranes; they are hard to make out, but look for the steel-blue line of them in the middle. The entire lake was surrounded by similar clusters of cranes.
This recording was made over a period of about an hour, and captured a few vocalisations at the beginning, and these grew into a larger chorus, and finally four waves of calling as four distinct groups of birds took to the air. This all happened just before and during sunset.
I took some pictures of them as they took to flight. It was glorious to watch; the sky was full of calling birds.
And when most had left, the sun completed its retreat and left behind some amazing sunsets.