Crane survey near San Marcial

Last Wednesday, I helped with a crane survey at the last of the four survey sites. Ted Turner apparently owns the land as part of the Armendaris Ranch, one of many in the western plains and Rocky Mountain states.The road to the site goes past Fort Craig, a pretty major frontier fort in the middle 1850’s and is south of the ghost town of San Marcial, which was wiped out in a flood for good a decade ago or so (and despite this optimistic tourism website really has nothing to offer).

This site is the least birdy of all four sites. The surrounding semi-desert and lack of agricultural fields probably keep cranes away, but I’m baffled why the extensive marsh doesn’t have more birds. I head Virginia Rails (Socorro bird 120) grunting in the reeds almost all day long and some American Coots swam and called, but few waterbirds were around. Only a few cranes flew south in the morning. A flock of Canada Geese overhead held one smaller Cackling Goose (Socorro bird 121). In the afternoon, I got a glimpse of one of the Marsh Wrens (NM bird 233 and Socorro bird 122) that had been calling all day just out of sight in the reeds.

One surprise in the afternoon was a flock of eight Wild Turkeys feeding in the powerling cut and then later down the road. I don’t know how “wild” these are–they could be part of a stocked population on the ranch. I found them when I head a noises similar to those Melissa’s guinea pig makes when it runs around: “wurp, wurp”.

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