Watching for Cranes

Heading back to Colorado today, I watched for migrant sandhill cranes in western Kansas.  Most of the western flock of sandhills, which breed across the Arctic of Alaska and Canada, funnel southward across the High Plains, headed for wintering areas in New Mexico, West Texas and Mexico.  In my experience along Interstate 70, their flights are generally best observed between Goodland and Wakeeney and usually occur from mid October into early November.

Alas, my hope of encountering these bugling migrants was not realized today.  My journey was a bit early in the season and late in the day to offer a good chance of seeing them and a strong south wind, pushing the afternoon high near 80 degrees F, likely discouraged any southward migration.

While searching for the cranes, I did observe a fair number of northern harriers (all male), ring-necked pheasants and a few tardy Swainson's hawks, not yet headed for their winter in Argentina.  Perhaps my return trip, likely in November, will be more successful.  See also Cranes over Kansas and Wintering Cranes.