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Whitewater Draw, AZ
mini location map2014-03-05
75 by photographer avataroutdoor_lover
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Whitewater Draw, AZ 
Whitewater Draw, AZ
Birding avatar Mar 05 2014
Birding1.00 Miles
Birding1.00 Miles
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Linked none no linked trail guides
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This was my Destination after playing around Muleshoe Ranch....It's the first time I've been here and this is strictly a Birding Destination...It was after 8:00 P.M. and the Moon was hiding behind Clouds at the time, so it was Pitch Black out there, but I knew, from the Sound, that I was in the right place...It was very Loud when I first got there and eventually quieted down a notch....I fell asleep to the sounds of Sandhill Cranes, 2 Great-horned Owls calling to each other and a Coyote yapping not far from my Campsite....

Every Year, thousands of Sandhill Cranes make the Migration from Canada and the Northern U.S. down to the South and into Mexico...Many of them stop in the Southern States and Winter there...Probably the most famous Northern area to see them is on the North Platte River, NE during the Spring...Wintertime, in the Southwest, it's Bosque Del Apache, NM...10,000 of them will be there in late November/December...Along with thousands of Snow Geese and other Migrants...In January/February, several thousand will make their home here, with the biggest concentrations near Willcox and most of those, at Whitewater Draw...Whitewater Draw is like a mini Bosque Del Apache and is an Official Refuge for these Birds....Even if you are not a "Birder", this is a Destination that everyone who even remotely enjoys Nature, should do at least once...In January/February and a little into March, from Sunrise to about 1:00 P.M., Nature puts on a Show that is truly too incredible to describe....If there is enough Interest, I would be glad to put a Page up for it....

I knew I was really stretching it by getting down there so late in the Season...Instead of the Thousands that were there two weeks prior, there were only roughly 1000....It was still fascinating and just an incredible Show....But I get ahead of myself....

I woke up to a Sunrise at it's Peak and proceeded to get a few Photos of it...And then it was off to the Water, as the Sounds were escalating....I got to the Ponds in time to watch a majority of them leave for the Day...They were all flying away from me as they went North towards Willcox and Safford to feed in the Fields....I did a little more Photography and then went back to Camp as the Ponds were now almost empty...A Friend was going to meet me there about 9:00 to join me for the Main Event...

After my Friend got there, we Birded a little around the Ponds waiting for the Show to begin...By 10:00 it was starting and we took a Seat and got the Cameras ready...Off in the Distance, you could soon see faint Black Lines, 100 yards across, as they became visible on the Horizon...And then, they started to arrive...Leading the Pack and kind of a Surprise, were a Flock of Snow Geese...On their Heels were the Sandhills....Wave after Wave after Wave...What was quiet and peaceful 30 minutes ago, was now bedlam....There is just no way I can describe it to you...And it lasted for 2 Hours as they finished coming in and landing...And then the Show continued with some Interactions as they jostled for Space and talked to each other.... :)

With the Main Event over, I had to get away from the Cameras for awhile...My Friend left and I decided to do a little Scenic Drive over to another Wildlife Refuge to check it out...I had already made up my mind to Camp here another night and catch the Sunset and the following day's Sunrise... :D

It was a little bit of a Drive to the other Refuge, but it was worth the Trip to see it and it appears that there is some Hiking to be had in there, with some History to boot...I have a feeling that at least a couple of HAZer's have been in there...Took a few Photos and then drove back over to Whitewater...

My Decision to stay was a good one...First, I was treated to a Sun Dog and then it went from there...More Photo Opportunities with the Sandhills providing the amped up Background Music...Spent the night, got up at Dawn for another Sunrise and to see the Cranes off one more time....

Packed up the Car and drove out with the thought that I will certainly return here next year....What an Amazing Place!

Photos: Yeah right! Still working on it...The first cut took me from 2800 to 97...When you are trying to get Flight and Interaction Shots, at 3-4 Frames per Second, it adds up pretty fast especially for over two Hours...Tack on two Sunrises, a Sunset, a Scenic Drive, and a little History on the way out. Yeah....Hopefully I'll have them up later today, but I don't guarantee that it still won't be a Photo Bomb.... :sweat:

In the meantime, a little Video I took the 2nd Morning as the Cranes started leaving...It's poor quality as they were out a ways and the Light was pretty low still, but if you watch it Full Screen, you'll see them...If you want the full effect, turn up the Volume and you'll fully understand what it really sounded like....
Sun Dog
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"
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