[Tweeters] Lots of Sandhill Cranes at Marsh Unit 1 & 2 (Potholes area)

Rex S. Takasugi rextak at msn.com
Thu Mar 21 21:58:13 PDT 2013

After I saw some FOY Sandhill Cranes in the Desert Chain Lakes
area two weeks ago, my wife was after me to take her out to eastern WA to
find some Sandhill Cranes, so today (Thursday) I drove her out to the Marsh
Unit 1 & 2 area (just south of Potholes Lake) where I thought we'd have the
best chance to see some Sandhill Cranes. We didn't see any along the drive,
which concerned me, but when we arrived we immediately spotted a flock of
about 150 in the middle to far side (west side) of the marsh (at that
distance they kind of looked like gray boulders that moved a little). Then
we spotted a closer flock of about 40 cranes, close enough that we could
readily see the red crown on one of them with our binoculars. These two
small flocks were very quiet and with the heavy winds, we really couldn't
hear anything. Frankly, I was somewhat disappointed that there weren't more
cranes to see and hear, but as we watched and waited, small flocks started
to fly in, and then larger flocks (like 200 to 300), and it was really neat
to see them fly in and make their calls. Then, I spotted a Bald Eagle
flying near us and the cranes must have spotted it at the same time because
they all took off together and flew really high, which was quite a sight!
After about 20 minutes, they all settled down and started to land again. It
is difficult to count that many birds, but I estimate that there were around
2,000 Sandhill Cranes altogether in that location. Another cool sighting
was of two American Pelicans flying close by in their steady, regal pace, in
spite of the fierce winds. A reminder that we are prohibited from entering
Marsh Unit 1 & 2 until April 15th to protect the migrating Sandhill Cranes.
But, from the eastside gate and fence you get a pretty good view of the
marsh and the birds, and those of you with spotting scopes ought to fare
well there.

If you go, watch the pass condition reports carefully. It was
snowing hard from Cle Elum to North Bend on our return trip, with the
eastbound direction closed and chains required (except for AWD) in the
westbound direction. What a mess up there. lots of spun-out cars and one
semi. Before we left my wife was wishing for a light dusting of snow up at
the pass to make it pretty; well, she got her wish and then some! J

Good birding!

Rex Takasugi

Kent, WA

RexTak at msn.com

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