Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sandhill Cranes Are Back

The sandhill cranes have returned for their winter migration. We have heard them overhead on their flight path from their feeding areas in the wetlands along the Cross Florida Barge Canal and their nighttime roosting spots inland.  Last week on a really overcast day with dropping temperatures and a light drizzle, I heard them honking overhead on their way home for the night and stepped out the back door to look up and see them.   Nothing overhead.  Once outside, I realized the noise was way too loud to be overhead.  I raced back through the house and out the front door to see a pair landing in the ditch.  With a lot of flapping and boisterous trumpeting, they hopped out of the ditch and proceeded to march right towards me and down the side of our house, made a left turn into the neighbor’s yard and circled her house. 

As soon as I could safely move without alarming them, I headed back inside to grab the camera and stalked them around the neighbor’s trying to remain unseen.  Took some photos and given the bad weather headed back to the house.  Hearing an even more raucous outburst from the pair, I turned in time to see three more cranes land.  There was much flapping and preening and trumpeting among the group.  Perhaps they were waiting for the dawdlers to catch up.  They poked the ground for insect snacks for some time and eventually before total darkness, flew on to their “beds” for the night.  It was like having National Geographic in our own yard.

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