30 01 20. Cochise Lake, Willcox. Sandhill Cranes.

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.

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And when most had left, the sun completed its retreat and left behind some amazing sunsets.

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