This morning I only drove a little over an hour from Willcox, to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Management Area. It’s one of the places where sandhill cranes hang out all winter, and they come to the ponds at night and take off in a huge cloud of giant birds in the morning! Can’t wait to see that!! It does mean I have to get up around 6:00 a.m. but I hope it’ll be worth it. Roxie has been waking me up awfully early anyway. I wonder if she’s still on NC time??
Camping is allowed in the parking lot here for up to 3 nights. It’s much nicer than I expected! I thought it would be just a big parking lot but there’s a vault toilet, dumpster, and picnic tables….LUXURY camping, compared to what I’m used to.
My fridge has gone back to its lazy ways, and is not cooling very well. Sigh….back to using block ice. I hate how messy and drippy it is, but it’s better than having ruined food. I wish I knew what was wrong with the fridge though; I thought last fall that it needed the burner cleaned but I had that done (and he said it wasn’t very dirty). It’s so odd that sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.
I ordered a replacement aluminum folding step and had it sent to the Bisbee post office. I went over there today to pick it up, what a fiasco. I had to drive round and round until a parking space opened up at the post office about 12:20 and of course they were closed for lunch. So I thought I’d check out the REALLY cute historic section of town while I waited for 1:00. Nope. There was not a parking spot to be had anywhere near the shops. So I drove around a bit…the Copper Queen Mine is certainly a very impressive humungous hole in the ground! And then went back to the post office; drove around in circles some more while I waited for a parking space to free up. Finally 1:00 arrived and by the time I walked down to the post office, I found myself 13th in line! And of course everyone had Christmas packages to mail. I finally made it to the window after 30 minutes and the woman said “Oh we don’t handle General Deliveries here; that’s at the other post office”. Oh. So I drove over to the other p.o. and the line was not as bad there; finally got my package and came back to camp but that little excursion took more than 3 hours!! I decided I definitely am staying here at least two nights; I need a day of rest. Even though I spent 5 days at Big Bend, I was in the car driving around for the better part of each day, and it’s been 13 days since I left SC…..driving every day. I’m tired.
Yesterday I asked a guy if he’d seen the cranes take off in the morning and he said yes. I asked what time, and he said he thought it was around 6:15. So this morning I was up by 5:45 a.m. and stumbling the 1/4 mile or so out to the viewing site by 6:10. All the cranes take off at the same time in the mornings! In evenings they come in all at different times. As I was walking down the path, barely lit by my tiny flashlight with bad batteries, I heard several coyotes howling nearby. Oh. Do coyotoes attack people??? I wouldn’t really be afraid of one coyote, but several?? I kept going anyway and sat on one of the freezing cold metal benches provided. And I waited. And I waited. In 33 degrees, wearing just levis and a fleece jacket. Of course I had my camera ready for the action, so my hands were out in the cold. What a cacophany of sound all those cranes make!
Well that bit about them all taking off at once is a bunch of hooey! There was no action at all until 6:45, and then 10-15 at a time started leaving. I finally left and came back to the camper at 7:15 and there were still quite a few birds still there, but I was soooo cold! I hadn’t planned on having to sit there for over an hour. My hands were so cold, I couldn’t turn the car key to start the car….it took both hands! While I was gone, Roxie had peed and pooped in the camper. (I had walked her before I left!) Nice.
Here’s a lone great blue heron fishing in the dusk last night…..and I didn’t even notice the little duck in the foreground!
I’m sure I will go back this evening too and maybe I can get some better photos.
Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed in this morning’s action. The birds here are quite far away so it’s hard to get any good photos without a huge telephoto lens. Now I wish I’d stopped off at Bosque del Apache NWR again, in southern New Mexico. There are thousands of sandhill cranes there, plus snow geese and many other bird species. And you can easily get to within 15′ of where they take off and land.
Not sure what a Sandhill Crane looks like? Here’s one up close and personal, taken from the Bosque del Apache website: