Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski

This is my last day of the long weekend before I go back to work tomorrow. However, going back might be more of a challenge than usual. There is purportedly a blizzard approaching. The radar confirms this, I’m afraid. And although it will start out as rain this morning, apparently overnight it will turn into a raging onslaught of wind and snow, and the thought of waking up to that, trying to shovel myself out and walking to the train which, given the failing infrastructure, may or may not be running – I’m putting off reality as long as I can.

So-called Black Friday, the day we went to see the Sandhill Cranes, was perfect, if cloudy weather. By perfect, it was not cold. Usually this is a more-than-frigid outing. And the wind is always present as nothing stops it for miles out in the middle of flat fields. But I left my long underwear at home and never regretted it.

Red-Tailed Hawk

On our way, not far from Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area, which is where Lesa and I were to find the Sandhill Crane viewing platform, we made a wrong turn, and sure enough, there was a hawk sitting on a power line, so we got out and took a look. Facing us he looked extremely light-colored with a dark head, so we weren’t sure what he was. Of course he flew, but when he did, his red tail gave him away. He then landed in a tree, moved again and we got some good looks. 

We got back in the car and headed toward our destination. When we arrived, a few people were already on the platform or wandering around. The cranes had not started coming in yet. We had seen some fairly close in the farm fields as we drove but the farm roads had no shoulder to pull off on, and we might have startled the birds anyway. The huge area at Jasper-Pulaski was empty except for a herd of grazing deer. The cranes were due to approach at sundown. We waited. And waited. On a cloudy day it’s even harder to tell when sundown occurs. But then, the birds started streaming in. And so did the people coming to watch them.

It was difficult to get a close shot of any of them, compared to visits from previous years, and the lack of light was a challenge, but I really can’t complain. Seeing these birds in such great numbers and hearing their calls gives me a measure of hope for their future and ours.

There was a distant Whooping Crane that I could barely capture with the camera, and enlarging the photograph doesn’t help much but you can use your imagination. If nothing else, this is a very small segment of the crowd on the ground. Someone posted on ebird a count of 24,000 for the flock that day.

This is my first attempt at writing a post in the new editor format of WordPress. I was quite comfortable with the old format. I don’t know why software designers feel like they have to keep “improving” things but maybe it’s just as well…I suppose the ability to go with the flow and respond productively to change is all that matters lately. Whatever it is, it seems like I can’t go back to the old format, so I better get used to this now.

Here are a few more shots. And a scan with my point-and-shoot and a very short video at the end, just trying to get a sense of the immensity of it all.

Here’s the video, such as it is. More amazing is that I figured out how to get it into this post.

13 thoughts on “Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski

  1. Well done for using the new editor. I haven’t dared to try it yet. The sandhill cranes are stunning. I would like to see them. I hope that the snow storm doesn’t cause too much interruption to your life.

    • I’m not used to having such an indoor day. I have been cooking – any excuse for comfort food and turning on the oven – and staring out at the gloom as the rain hits the birdbaths. It seems like the worst of it will come in the wee hours of the morning and I have no intention of waking up any earlier than I have to! As for the new editor, it’s annoying because I had to relocate everything but I guess it’s lucky I had one of those days I had time to do it.

  2. It’s amazing to see so many birds like the sandhill cranes even in pictures, the most I seen them together is three in Florida. I know about the weather forecast for your area, the large storm might dump a lot of snow. Take care Lisa. 🙂

    • Gee thanks, Donna! I’ve been to Jasper-Pulaski for this gathering of cranes maybe 4 or 5 times now over the years and it’s always amazing. They seemed farther afield this time than previous years but I can’t complain – at least we could stand outside the whole time and not go running back to the car to warm up!
      The snow this morning when it stopped was only about 4 inches because it was a lot of rain before it turned to snow, but it was splattered, frozen onto everything. I cleaned off about 6 trapped branches stuck to the roof of my car. Now we get the deep freeze. Fun. Back to long underwear. 🙂

    • Thanks. We were calling it our “crane fix.” It’s exciting to see them fly over during migration but I tend to miss it being stuck inside the office so it seemed like a good time to visit Jasper-Pulaski where they can be seen at sunrise and sundown for almost a couple months.

    • Thank you! I couldn’t figure out how to get back to the old editor. I am starting to get used to the new one but I suspect like everything else I will never know all its features before yet another one comes…

      • I was undecided about the writing, didn’t like the way it handled photos. Thouh I could at least find all my photos from the last 4 years, which I can’t do in the old editor.

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