2010 Sandhill Crane Counts

2010 Crane Counts

APRIL 2010
Thursday, April 15

Wednesday, April 14

30 Cranes were found by J Wallace the morning of the of the 15th up on the Figure 4 Ranch

I don’t know  – You will start to see a pattern here – I don’t expect to see any more cranes of any sugnificant number so when it warms up I am drawn towards vineyard and other farm work.

I’ll keep making cursory checks to maybe document the last day of crane(s) stops at Fruitgrowers Reservoir

Tuesday, April 13

0 Cranes

9 Cranes were found by J Wallace the morning of the of the 14th on the Figure 4 Ranch

Monday, April 12

0 Cranes  (Later, J. Wallace reported he managed to find 5)
If the migration is not over, the end is near!

Sunday, April 11

70 Cranes

Saturday, April 10

210 Cranes.
So the crane migration will last a little longer.

Friday, April 9

I just found an email from J. Wallace and he estimated 850 Cranes – with more small groups landing while he left the reservoir this evening.

500 Cranes?
Well, at least 400.  I made the count at  25 mph, so that’s as precise as I could get at  6:00.  There will be enough to make it worthwhile in the morning.  Let’s see what we can find  then and I’ll adjust the number as appropriate.

The White Pelicans are back at the reservoir.

Thursday, April 8

1.800 Cranes

Or perhaps a cool 2,000.  In previous years I would have said  THIS has got to be the last big group of the season.  But I won’t.  But Tomorrow morning has got to be one of the best liftoffs!

Wednesday, April 7

400 to 500 Cranes

A special night

Tuesday, April 6

280 Cranes – Likely returnees from this morning’s liftoff.

Monday, April 5

600 to 700 Cranes. (J.Wallace)
800 is the revised count from the next morning (April 6)
It looks like the wind blew in more than pink dust today.

Sunday, April 4

27 Cranes

Saturday, April 3

180 Cranes made it through this evening.

Friday, April 2

77 Cranes.

The weather forecast from Monte Vista suggests Saturday may be a good day for cranes.

Thursday, April 1

1,300 to 1,400 Cranes.

The “cars at liftoff index”  confirms that the weather today was miserable. This morning, the number of cranewatcher cars to the number of cranes was the smallest I’ve seen in years.  I don’t know if tonight’s birds tried to fly and returned or if they just stayed put – I’d be surprised if  these were “new” birds.

Wednesday, March 31

2000?  – Would you believe it?

This is among the most difficult conditions in which to count Cranes.  This impossible wind blew them in many small groups.  They came in early  and kept coming.  They hunkered in tighter groups among the cattails and brush seeking relief from the constant high winds.

Given the nature of the winds and the forecast for rain, who knows what liftoff will be like in the morning . . . and when?

Tuesday, March 30

500 Cranes (E. Horn)
-This after a long day of headwinds for the cranes!

Monday, March 29

800 Cranes tonight

This morning’s liftoff was wonderful.

Note:  For those of you who got a Water Conservancy District page when you went to eckertcranedays.com, we apologize.  In addition to doing my own website work I also do my own plumbing and some days I’m afraid to flush the toilet!  And to those of you who took the Grand Mesa Water Conservancy District announcement to heart, if you come to the meeting you will not see any cranes.

Sunday, March 28

2,750 Cranes.  So says Evey and I don’t doubt it.

Wow!  This could be the biggest night of the season.   – Certainly the prettiest with the rising near-full moon behind the landing cranes.

Saturday, March 27

4     (Up on the Figure 4 Ranch)

A great day of presentations sponsored by Colorado Art Ranch.  Many Thanks.

Friday, March 26

700 +/- Cranes from a quick assessment at 5:30 p.m.   I’ll check with Evelyn later in the evening and defer to her count at that point.


p.s.  Saw my first Western Grebes

Thursday, March 25

1,200 to 1,300 Cranes.
J. Wallace  estimated 1,800 to 2,000 Cranes at 7:30 Friday morning.

What a difference a day makes !!!

Wednesday, March 24

0  Cranes

Today was the first day of zero ice on the Reservoir – what ice that was there this morning was gone this evening.

Tuesday, March 23

190 Cranes

I saw about 115 (+/- 5) around 6:00 pm. The rest were late arrivals spotted by Evelyn.

Monday, March 22

90 Cranes – all reletively later arrivals.

Today, according to conventional wisdom, was a perfect day day for hundreds of cranes.  A winter front is supposed to be coming tomorrow and be in the region through the day.  What could THAT possible mean?

Sunday, March 21

0 (or 1)

Somebody reported they saw 1 crane but neither I nor those I talked to at the Reservoir saw any.

Saturday, March 20

7 Cranes.

I am sure glad I didn’t bet money on the count today.  And my apologies to those at the afternoon Crane Days presentation when I suggested it might be a good evening to watch the cranes land.

Friday, March 19

320 Cranes.  Thank you Evelyn.

As I listen to the cranes flying over our place as they leave Hart’s Basin, (11:10 am) I  realize I will be too busy with our (Surface Creek Winery)  winemaker dinner this evening to post tonight’s number until quite late.  Sorry for any inconvenience to those who go to bed early.

This storm front was not enough to keep last night’s cranes on the ground. It’s partly sunny -the other 30% and not the 70% chance of rain according the the NWS – which is also showing  on their website that there isn’t much in the way of prohibitive weather between here and Monte Vista, should the cranes decide to leave the San Luis Valley today.
-Jim Durr

Thursday, March 18

700.  All in the NW wetlands tonight.

Wednesday, March 17

650 +/- 33  800*
Or maybe more or even less.   – Wonder what the count tomorrow morning will tell us.  *J. Wallace morning count.

Beautiful, quiet sunset.  Before sunset most of the Cranes were in Velas’ fields West of the reservior.  But it was one of those nights where the cranes flew low and noisily back over North Road into the wetlands on the Figure 4 Ranch as long dark shadows backed by a pink and orange sky.

Morning note:  I was not able to count the cranes this morning to confirm the 500 number from last night.   J.Wallace thought there were 400 at 8:00 a.m. but they were bunched up at that point and not easy to count.

Tuesday, March 16

400 to 500 cranes (maybe a little more)

My latest report (decided to caucus with the cranes and not the party) is that lots of smaller groups came in after 5:30.

Many landed into areas with denser cover and then later flew over to  different locations. By dark it was certain we weren’t going to see all of them for a precise number.  Still, 500+/- cranes is respectable.

Monday, March 15

<100.   Strange evening for counting – several small groups (the largest I saw was 33.)  They kept moving from one area to another and it was hard to keep track – even with all the help out there.

Followup – This morning the concensus  was that there were 40 cranes- although we saw perhaps twice that flying and landing.  This brings up the notion of accuracy – the point of this page is first to give you a sense of how many cranes you may expect to see the next morning.  Regarding the accuracy of the actual numbers of birds, we try to fix any mistaken estimates whenever we can.

Sunday, March 14

125 +/- Cranes this evening – I didn’t get there until late.  I don’t know if these were new birds or if they returned after turning back from the heavy overcast over the Grand Mesa.  – It generally was a cold rainy heavy overcast day.

[Jim W. wrote by email: I counted 180 cranes this evening, Sunday the 14th. Looks like the weather kept most of the birds here.]

Saturday, March 13

160 +/-  at 6:00  (7:00 pm Daylight Savings)  [We were informed at the Winery/Gallery today that there were 190  Cranes Saturday evening.  Won’t argue with that – there very well could have been that many.

Let the games begin!

The cranes were on the West shore and fields at Vela’s.  Dave Galinat gets the heads-up award for the season.

Friday, March 12

No cranes this evening – I checked right after sunset between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. (7:00 – 7:30 p.m. Daylight Savings time.)  I guessed as much as I crested the hill and saw no cars stopped anywhere along  the road.

A noticeably large part of the reservoir ice became liquid during the day.  This long cold Winter has imposed a false patience – we (I) need an affirmation of cranes so that Spring will start!

This morning looks like the first crane season morning of the year.  The Reservoir is mostly iced over with the edges melted along the West and North (Road) edges.  The wetlands north of North Road are clear of ice as well.

If the skies stay clear, will tonight be the first evening of migrants?  (This morning- one time I thought I heard Cranes, but saw none – were some local cranes messing with me or is the anticipation playing with my mind’s ear?)

More, later

Thursday, March 11

Good Morning.

It’s been zero so far.

I know I said I’d start this kind of update before now, but though it’s been a bit warmer, the weather still does not suggest the migration will crane up.   So, we’ll see what happens this evening

Sunday, March 7 –

Good Afternoon.

Those of you who live at a distance  will have to forgive our slow start to our Crane Count narrative.  Winter came early here and has stayed in a fashion we are not used to.  I am not aware of any Sandhill Crane activity at Fuitgrowers Reservoir.  (I may have missed something and will relay any information I that others want to provide.)

So from Tuesday on I’ll start logging in a crane count – even if it’s a zero.  – Jim

PARKING:  PLEASE find a place to park that is off the pavement and PLEASE do not set up your tripods on the pavement!    The Sheriff’s Department join many of us with concern about safety from less than responsible behavior on the county road (drivers and bird watchers) while crane watching is going on.  Thanks.


PARKING:  PLEASE find a place to park that is off the pavement and PLEASE do not set up your tripods on the pavement!    The Sheriff’s Department join many of us with concern about safety from less than responsible behavior on the county road (drivers and bird watchers) while crane watching is going on.  Thanks.OTHER BIRD SPECIES SIGHTED 2010
at, or adjacent to, the RESERVOIR: 

Great Blue Heron
American Bald Eagle
Canada Goose (2 sizes)
Western Meadowlark
Common Merganser
American Coot
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveler
Golden Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Mountain Bluebird
Downy Woodpecker
Cinnamon Teal
Red-winged Blackbird
Mourning Dove
Northern Harrier
Hairy Woodpecker
Song Sparrow
Ring-billed Gull
Double-crested Cormorant
American Kestrel
Swainson’s Hawk
Eurasion Collared Dove
Common Goldeneye
Black-billed Magpie
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Western Grebe
Greater Yellowlegs (If you don’t agree I’ll send you Nancy’s phone number)
American Avocet
American White Pelican
White-faced IbisA good on-line bird ID guide: