by Darcy Thomas

A group of 12 bird lovers participated in the Sandhill Crane Viewing at the West Valley ponds just north of Kalispell. Darcy Thomas led the group which saw over 250 Sandhill Cranes. From the Bird and Wildlife Viewing Area a large group of cranes grazed in the agricultural fields very near the parking lot. Everyone was thrilled to get such a good view. What a great photo op as well.

Just before dark we traveled along Clark Drive to view all the ponds and closed the evening watching the sunset as cranes returned to the protection of the pothole wetlands for the night. The sight of these graceful birds flying overhead along with the sound of their bugling call was quite an event to witness. Other great bird sightings included Cinnamon Teal, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Canvasback and Ruddy Duck, Horned Grebe, Northern Harrier and a Great Horned Owl as well as Mallards, Canada Geese Blackbirds and Coots.