Prairie Dogs and Sandhill Cranes

ToadDate 0048.11.15.2016-TX

Today was a travel day moving from Sumner Lake Park, NM to Muleshoe, TX. Yesterday, we took a northern route out of Alamogordo, NM so the climb over mountains was much easier to do. The landscape was beautiful.

Muleshoe, TX is a small agricultural town but the Muleshoe Heritage Foundation provides free RV camping with level gravel pad and all the utilities for three days. We are staying two. Thanks to the Heritage Foundation for making the selection of our camping site easy to make.

After we set up camp (very easy setup), we had time to take a trip south of town to the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge. This is a great place to visit. It is divided into two sections. In the first section that we visited there were hundreds of prairie dogs. Never seen so many. There was also a great elevated overlook area, but there were hundreds of yellow jackets so we didn’t try to climb up the overlook and just enjoyed the view from ground level.

The second area has several playas (shallow lakes filled with rain and no drainage). The playas provide water in this dry plains area. This is the winter home for one of the largest concentrations of the Lesser Sandhill Cranes, which are from east of the Rockies out of Canada. They are the same type of Sandhill Cranes found in Wisconsin (winter in Florida), with the same very loud squawk. They have had as many as 250,000 in one season visiting this refuge.

As you might expect, the playas are salty due the evaporation of the water rather than it draining into a river. At the White Playa, we could see a white shoreline – salt makes it white.

This is a park with lots of informational signs along the roads. There are hiking trails, but it was getting late and we will need to make the trails a future trip.

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