Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Whitewater Draw, McNeal, Arizona

We had heard about this place south of Wilcox, Arizona, where Sandhill Cranes roost in the winter.  Having spent a few days each of the past 3 Decembers in Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in southern New Mexico, we love photographing the cranes, snow geese, and other water fowl who winter there.
Sunset over Whitewater Draw
We drove south from Roper Lake State Park through old Indian Country, the Wilcox Playa situated between the Chiricahua Mountains on the east and the Dragoon Mountains on the west.  Near Cochise Stronghold which is where, yes, Cochise hide out and foot the blue coats in the 19th century.  Now fertile farmland irrigated from deep wells dot the countryside.  About 40 miles south of I-10 we found McNeal, Arizona then a few miles south and east over dirt roads, arrived at Whitewater Draw.  Nina over at Wheelingit blog had rated this dry camping site as one of their favorites for 2013.  The parking lot can handle up to 3-5 rigs depending upon size.  Stay limited to 3 nights.  We decided to stay for 2 nights.  There were pit toilets, and best of all, the price was FREE!

We arrived mid-afternoon.  Several cars in parking lot area, but no RV's or trailers, yet so we selected our site on the south side facing the pools which were 1/4 mile walk distant.  Later in afternoon a large 5th wheel arrived, then a small RV so plenty of room for all.  A couple other rigs came and went back out due to lack of room so we felt fortunate.  
Sandhill Crane Family: Mom, Dad and Junior (in the middle)

Lovely afternoon with sunshine and warm breezes.  We walked around the pond spotting a few cranes sunning themselves on the beach.  Most were quite distant. 

 Lovely sunset.  
Nighttime felt very still and quiet.  Well pretty quiet other than the owl and the cranes whooping it up all night.  Real party animals those cranes!  Hehe.  Actually a beautiful sound to hear them in the stillness of the night.

Next morning we were treated to an amazing sunrise but the bird photography wasn't so good since the sun stayed behind those beautiful sunrise clouds so I don't have much.

Later in morning the wind freshened to about 25-30 mph gusting to 40 and remained stiff breezes rest of day through the night. Good news is we had decent internet via our new cellular modem from Millenicom.  Woo hoo!

Here is link to my Picasa album

We did see quite a few other birds too.

We were pretty tired by days end from walking around in these winds and the photography light was not great yet I still managed to get a few pix.

Sunset reflections
Another fun thing was Bisbee, Arizona only 35 minutes away so we drove over for a walk and lunch.  Even more windy over there but was fun.

Saturday morning the wind was less but light still not great.  We walked around for a while then headed out for Tucson.

Here are a few more pix.

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