The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.
There could be as many as 20,000 cranes heading north from New Mexico to Idaho over the next month and local observers are already starting to see migrating cranes. Over 5,000 cranes already have been reported in the San Luis Valley, the stopover site before they head north to Fruitgrowers. The cranes stop overnight to feed and rest at the reservoir and generally start lifting off to head on the next leg of their spring journey between 10-11 the following morning. Viewers are asked to remain at the viewing site or along the road and not approach the birds.
The viewing site, Crane Point, is reached by taking Highway 92 east of Delta four miles to Highway 65, then north six miles to the Big E Market, then turn east on North Road to Crane Point. Viewers are asked to park at the parking lot or off the highway along North Road and be careful of traffic.
There will be an added bonus this year, a free lunch provided by the Hart Ranch just north of the viewing area to begin at 12:30 on Saturday, March 17. Details will be provided at the BCAS booth. The new owners of the Hart Ranch intend to develop the agricultural land in a sustainable way and want to meet their local, conservation-minded neighbors.
Also on the schedule is a winemaker's reception for Eckert Crane Days from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, March 16, at The Graystone, 21565 North Road. Stoney Mesa Winery winemaker Bret Neal will be featured. Cost is $15 per person; RSVP to 874-9532.
For more information contact Geoff Tischbein, 615-7329 or check the BCAS website: www.blackcanyonaudubon.org/field-trips.