Getting in/out of vans; driving about 65 miles one-way to Sulphur Springs Valley, over 2 hours riding time with stops. Walking about 1 mile, approximately 2 hours on level ground.
At the hotel.
Setting out from the hotel via van, our destination for the day will be the Sulphur Springs Valley and its Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, where we will seek to view an abundance of migrating sandhill cranes and hawks, among others such as Mexican ducks that commonly nest in ponds created by farmers for the reuse of irrigation tailwater. The number of wintering sandhill cranes has increased dramatically since the 1950s, probably in response to the abundant food available in harvested grain fields, primarily corn. Similarly, numbers of mourning and white-winged doves, as well as both mule deer and collared peccary, have also increased since historic times likely as the result of agriculture. At Whitewater Draw, we will congregate at the viewing area where our Group Leader and staff instructor, both wildlife and birding experts, will offer commentary. Then we’ll walk with them on the maintained trail around the Draw. There will be birding stops and spottings along the way as we travel to the Sulphur Springs Valley.
At a local family restaurant in the rural community of Elfrida.
Afterwards, we will continue our exploration of the Sulphur Springs Valley, which is teeming with many birds to see. The sheer amount of sandhill cranes in flight formation as they come in to roost can sometimes seem to darken the skies. These cranes appear sleek in flight but are very rugged when viewed on land.
At a restaurant in Sierra Vista near the hotel.
At the hotel, we’ll review our birding list with our Group Leader and recount some of the species of birds we saw today for a great start to a stellar birding week! The remainder of the evening will be at leisure.