Whitewater Draw

Whitewater Draw is just a 45 minute drive from Sierra Vista and is home to about 22,000 wintering Sandhill Cranes.  There is a half mile looped path that is close to parking, easy to walk and has benches along the way, two viewing platforms with telescopes, and close access to see not only cranes but other birds.  Overnight camping is allowed, there are bathroom facilities and a few picnic tables.  There is no fee.  None of us are bird photographers and we don't have any of the long focal length lens that serious birders use.  But, just getting out there and being so close to the cranes, watching them fly in and out by the hundreds, listening to them call, and watching them preen was more than enough for me.

 We were already frozen and the sun was just starting to come up.  Temperature was 17º, my hands too cold to set up my camera and then my long lens would not even attempt to focus!!

We were already frozen and the sun was just starting to come up.  Temperature was 17º, my hands too cold to set up my camera and then my long lens would not even attempt to focus!!

 Looking westward across the pond.

Looking westward across the pond.

 Tom got a few photographs of the cranes leaving.

Tom got a few photographs of the cranes leaving.

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 Len told me that they return in the midday to rest before going back out in the early afternoon.  That approach sounded much more appealing to us.  We returned twice more to watch them come back to the ponds.

Len told me that they return in the midday to rest before going back out in the early afternoon.  That approach sounded much more appealing to us.  We returned twice more to watch them come back to the ponds.

 This is a good representation of the ponds just before the birds start coming back in.

This is a good representation of the ponds just before the birds start coming back in.

 When the cranes do return they do so in waves, some as many as 100+ birds.

When the cranes do return they do so in waves, some as many as 100+ birds.

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 Sand Hill Cranes are not the only bird in the area of the ponds.

Sand Hill Cranes are not the only bird in the area of the ponds.

 I was told by another photographer that brown Sand Hill Cranes are what is found on the East Coast.  Not sure if that is true.  This brown bird looked a bit out of place.

I was told by another photographer that brown Sand Hill Cranes are what is found on the East Coast.  Not sure if that is true.  This brown bird looked a bit out of place.

 There are two viewing platforms along the route that is easily walked.  

There are two viewing platforms along the route that is easily walked.  

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 That is not sensor dust.  Those are waves of returning cranes.  They are noisy as they fly in.

That is not sensor dust.  Those are waves of returning cranes.  They are noisy as they fly in.

 There are white geese that rest with the cranes.

There are white geese that rest with the cranes.

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 An early morning photograph.

An early morning photograph.

 I tried so hard to get a good photograph of this Vermilion Flycatcher.  They are FAST!

I tried so hard to get a good photograph of this Vermilion Flycatcher.  They are FAST!

 Steve spotted a hawk.†

Steve spotted a hawk.†

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 'Altogether now!'

'Altogether now!'

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 Several people mentioned that there were Barn Owls and Horned Owls in the 'barn' a structure near the parking lot.  We only saw this one.  He seemed very at ease with photographers being close by.

Several people mentioned that there were Barn Owls and Horned Owls in the 'barn' a structure near the parking lot.  We only saw this one.  He seemed very at ease with photographers being close by.

 If birds are not your thing, there are plenty of other photo-opportunities to keep you busy.

If birds are not your thing, there are plenty of other photo-opportunities to keep you busy.