Mission Statement

Bearing Witness to Local Natural History-- from the wildness of Indiana

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sandhill Cranes: First Visit

I heard them coming last night. I could hear them even in the house. The sun set only a few moments before. I rushed outside with camera and scope. The platoons arrived from the north, circled, and landed in the shallow "lake" next to my property. They began feeding-- probing in the mud for fine arthropods and more.

This is why we must preserve habitat. Migrating birds depend upon areas in which they can safely stopover on their journeys for food, shelter, and water. Various species require various habitats. Some may require wetlands, others forests, prairies, grasslands, etc. 

The first group had 71, the second group 65, and the third group was 25. 
161 Sandhill Cranes migrating southward spent the night to rest. 

Sandhill Cranes Arrive in Morgan County, Indiana

Sandhill Cranes Prepare to Spend the Night

I awoke at 6:00 am and prepared to venture out to photograph the cranes. Based on past experience with Sandhills, they wait until the sunlight illuminates them and then they take flight. It was chilly this morning-- 28 degrees. I carefully walked to where I would have a clear view and sat down in the frosty grass between a cedar and a sapling. It was 7:15 am. I photographed occasionally in the dim light awaiting the sun. It was scheduled to rise at 7:59 am. Finally it began to break through the trees, slowly illuminating the cranes which were more northerly along the water's edge. It crept. The cranes were awakening-- shaking feathers and exercising their wings. At 9:10 am, I left my spot and walked slowly around the bend to get a closer view. I kept myself between the cranes and the sun so the light was in their eyes. Better for hiding my movements. 

I set the tripod down and began photographing. The cranes began talking to each other and the conversation became louder. I knew it was time. In a flash they began taking off in groups-- gaining altitude, circling, and then winging to the south. Many miles awaited them. Safe traveling my friends. 

Sandhill Cranes Waking Up in Sunlight

Sandhill Cranes Before Taking Flight-Morgan County, Indiana

Sandhill Cranes Taking Flight-- Morgan County, Indiana

Sandhill Crane Flying Overhead--Morgan County, Indiana

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1 comment:

Marie said...

Excellent post, Joni, thank you. We still have a bunch up here, had 40 or so circling over the house yesterday. It's funny to see them this time of year after their molt, so gray. We're used to seeing them all rusty from their mud baths!