By Cory Davis.
On Saturday, October 7, twenty-six hardy folks participated in a Sandhill Crane Watching Tour at the West Valley Wetlands just northwest of Kalispell. Denny Olson of Flathead Audubon led the trip that was co-sponsored by Flathead Land Trust, Flathead Audubon and the West Valley Naturalist’s Association.
The participants weathered some cold, windy weather including a squall with high winds but were rewarded with views of 200-300 Sandhill Cranes feeding in fields throughout the evening. They also saw Snow Geese, Ruddy Ducks, Trumpeter Swans, Pheasants, Northern Harrier, and a Short-eared Owl as well as many Mallards, Canada Geese, and Coots. The group visited the future public bird viewing area at the conservation project in progress. At sunset, they viewed 150-200 Sandhill Cranes flying in to roost for the night in one of the pothole wetlands and saw and heard others fly toward the conservation project pothole wetland.