Thursday, December 6, 2012
Field Notes 11.25.12
Our last sighting of sandhill cranes in autumn 2011 was November 7. This year we were surprised to see eight cranes still in the Valley as we drove along Rio Grande CR 3E just south of Home Lake.
At the lake, which was mostly frozen, there were Canada geese, a gull, American coots and a bufflehead. We then went up the road to the south entrance of Rio Grande State Wildlife Area and ambled towards the river. During the hike we saw a northern harrier with reddish undersides, indicating that it was a juvenile. Flying nearby was light gray adult harrier. In the trees along the river chipping sparrows, Brewer’s sparrows and juncos flitted among the willow shrubs. A red-tailed hawk flew overhead and a common merganser swam peacefully in the river. A stop at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge auto loop yielded sightings of mallards and an American kestrel.