Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Common Crane at Muleshoe NWR, 11/20/14

Tuesday evening I saw on Facebook that Justin Bosler had found a Common Crane at Muleshoe NWR NW of Lubbock.  Those Bosler boys are always finding something good!  With Honey's blessings, I was off the next morning for the 700+ mile drive.  Spent the night in Lubbock and was out at the refuge by sun up. Problem was refuge management decided they didn't want a bunch of unruly bird watchers wandering around unsupervised on the refuge so they closed of access to Goose Lake where the Common Crane had been found.  So what to do?

I had a feeling the thousands of Sandhill Cranes roosting on the refuge lakes would be off early in the morning to feed in area fields.  So I positioned myself on the highway on the east side of Goose Lake and sure enough cranes were headed east.  But they were moving too fast and it was still too dark to get much on them.  I tried Paul's Lake where visibility is good but couldn't find my bird.  So I needed a new strategy.  I decided to head east and see if I could find flocks of feeding cranes.  And four miles to the east on CR 3397 I found a flock of several thousand.

But they were very wary and soon flushed only to resettle on the same fields.

After they settled I kept scoping the flock, hoping for a miracle.  And  miracle happened.  I couldn't believe it. There was the Common Crane feeding about 500 yards away with the Sandhills.  At this distance I was just hoping to get any recognizable photo.  Kyle O'Haver then showed up and we studied and photographed the distant Common Crane for about twenty minutes until the flock lifted and we were unable to refind the bird.  These are the best shots I could get through the scope.

As the next few days passed dozens of birders have gotten to see the Common Crane in at least four different locations.  Was there more than one?  Sharp-eyed Martin Reid proved there are two of these lost Siberian rarities.  Pretty weird.  Not only is this a first record for Texas, it's the first multiple occurrence of Common Crane ever in the country. 

No comments: