Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sandhill Crane Success

Not always, but sometimes patience pays off.  Or persistence at least. Lately, I've taken a few Sunday afternoons to go to Grass Lake hoping to see the Sandhill Cranes that have been seen, back for their summer stay to raise another brood. My first two Sundays' attempts were filled with good company: my oldest son the first time, and then another birder/photographer I spent over an hour chatting and swapping stories with.

However, this time I arranged to meet with my brother Dan who had just purchased a new camera and was eager for an excuse to come out. I was hoping it would not be another failed attempt to find them. Thankfully, that was not to be, and before he joined me I had already spotted a lone crane preening out in last year's grasses of the wide marshy area of the lake.

Sandhill Crane preening.
We took turns balancing on a log that protruded part way into the lake to enable the closest view possible. The misting rain held off long enough for us to enjoy the sites of this large bird that is part of a small number of cranes that seem to return to this location for a number of years now. Although the birds number in huge quantities and flocks are often in the 10,000's, they're not very common in this area. 

Post preening nap.

After having poor success in seeing them previous times, the tide had turned and soon we saw another four flying about in the back stretches of the lake. Soon two flew over and noisily landed in the distance behind where the preening crane we were watching was stationed. They are big birds.

Sandhill cranes coasting in for a landing

We traipsed over to the side of the lake where the two new visitors had landed, but couldn't see much more than glimpses as that side of the lake's edge is quite grown in with vegetation at water's edge. However, we caught site of a Canada Goose nesting, and trying hard to keep from our notice although in plain view. It wouldn't move an inch the whole time we watched. Not sure if this is more characteristic of more "wild" geese compared to the more "domesticated" park variety. I'm more used to encountering the geese who make you feel you need apologize while you walk around them on a trail they happen to be sauntering down as well.

Canada Goose nest.
I'm not sure if this nest is the handiwork of the subject goose, or whether it is leasing the roof off of a muskrat. I'm thinking this is quite the mound for a goose to create, but possibly this is the fruits of many years of nesting at the same location.

Red-winged Blackbirds abounded, their raspy calls filling the air with the corresponding feather-spread displays. The drab weather and lighting didn't help for exposing a black bird, and they always seem to know where the camera is, insisting on facing away.

Red-winged Blackbird

With time running out for on a successful outing, a Turkey Vulture lazily circled and dropped down quite low... never turn your camera off until you're in the car. This was a bit of a hastily taken shot somewhat salvaged with Picasa (which I have taken a liking to lately with relatively easy touch-up [I try to keep my editing to a minimum], except for a purple fringe correction in Gimp to compensate for my inferior Sony lens!). This is the closest shot I have gotten yet of this large bird.

Turkey Vulture

I had to leave before Dan did, and he excitedly emailed me later that day letting me know he had found the Sandhill Crane nest we had gone out to find (on report and picture evidence from others on a birding board I frequent). Although we had just been, excitement won out and our wives agreed to the likelihood of two dads being late for supper, arrangements being made to meet the next day after work. I'll save the pictures from that outing for another post which I should get out soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sorry about the annoying word verification... I've been deluged with Spam comments lately and some have been offensive.