I’m driving around the US between conferences. As I posted here, last week I was at the Raptor Research Foundation‘s meeting at Sacramento two hours east of San Francisco.

On my way back through Los Angeles en-route to southern Texas (don’t ask why I travelled via LA in peak hour traffic).

En-route back to Mojave from Sacramento last Sunday I stopped in at the Merced National Wildlife Reserve, one of a chain of wildlife reserves throughout the extensive agricultural region of the Central Valley.

A few of my colleagues at the conference recommended that I pull into the Merced NWR en-route if I wanted to see the Sandhill Cranes there, part of a wintering population that flees the winter’s cold in the north.

There were only scattered numbers of Cranes at Merced NWR and I’ll see a few more tomorrow at the Bosque del Apache NWR over the next few days at Bosque del Apache NWR here in New Mexico.

I’m staying at the small town of Socorro, New Mexico, just up the road from Bosque del Apache and should, if all goes well, post some shots of the many wintering birds from there over the next few days.

Meanwhile, in addition to my shot of the Sandhill Crane above, here are a few birds from the hour or so I spent at Merced NWR. This Black-necked Avocet was pottering around in the shallows.

These Northern Shovelers were part of a large mixed flock of ducks, Greebs and Coots.

This Killdeer was foraging around the lake edges.

This Great Blue Heron was one of a pair skulking around the edges of the marsh area.

I don’t have my local field guide with me so I’m unable to identify this small smudge that was feeding on the muddy fringes.

Any thoughts?

Finally, here is another shot of a Sandhill Crane (I reckon a sub-adult) as a teaser …