After all the Sandhill Cranes I saw flying overhead last week, it was evident that they were finally on the move. It has been years since I have been to Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area near Medaryville, Indiana – about a two-hour drive – to see the Sandhill Cranes that have been feeding in the surrounding farm fields all day before congregating at sundown in a field visible from an observation platform, before heading off to the marsh for the evening. The birds are counted in the morning in the wetland area before they disperse. As an example, on November 21 their numbers were around 13,000. One week later, on the 28th, they were counted at nearly 33,000. It was definitely time to go see them. I was joined by my friend Lesa, and we drove to Jasper-Pulaski on Thursday to watch the cranes come in.
When we first arrived around 3:00 P.M., it was still light and a small group was gathering in a field not far from the viewing platform.
The forecast was for cloudy skies, but it was relatively warm for this place where the winds can whip you into a frozen shivering mass, so even if it wasn’t perfect for photographs it was easier to stand and watch for a couple hours. As the clouds came in, so did the cranes.
And they kept coming.
I managed silhouetted views at best when a few cranes flew over a bit closer to the platform.
More cranes gathered at a distance. It was a little easier to focus in this light.
Then as more started to come in, it was the beginning of a spectacle. I took a couple videos toward the end of our visit to capture the sound of the cranes calling. There’s wind noise too.
In a brief sunlit sequence I managed to capture some of the color of these birds flying over.
It’s really hard to convey or capture the numbers of birds as they streamed in from all directions.
I tried to capture the size of the flock as it began to assemble before it got too dark.
Four individuals on the ground were a little closer, if in poor light.
One more video, mainly for the sound and sight of all those birds coming in from farther away.
So as it got darker, and more birds came in, it got harder and harder to photograph them, but that didn’t stop me.
Then I tried to capture the sunset, something I don’t get to see very often unless I drive far away. There are a few cranes against the clouds in the first photo.
Thanks to Lesa’s Garmin on her phone, we got home safely. My cell phone has been acting strangely the last week or two, indicating it wants to be replaced. I took its final hint seriously when it refused to provide a map to drive back. If not for Lesa’s Garmin, we might still be driving around the farm fields trying to find our way out. I ordered a new phone yesterday.
I will be back with more local observations soon. We are experiencing a rainy period which is giving me some time to do more posting. It’s been a good week. Ah yes, and it’s Saturday night as I sign off, which means it’s time for the weekly living room cleanup.