The temperature reached 50 degrees earlier this week. Finally!! I decided to take a drive in the countryside to see what was happening.
Farmland ponds were beginning to thaw and this one was full of gulls in constant motion. Their squawking filled the evening air.
This Ring-billed Gull appeared to be leading the chorus. While this gull often lives year-round in the Great Lakes region, its location in the pond made me wonder if it’d been migrating from a warmer climate. You know, one of those snow bird types who are returning home from a warm winter away.
On the next corner was another pond with mallards busy eating vegetation off the bottom. I also saw a Red-winged Blackbird perched on the top of a spent cattail. It was singing its distinctive trill. I’d never watched this breed execute its vocalization, but each time it did, it puffed out its body and expanded its wings. How much energy it expended!
Off in the distance, I could see a huge flock of something in the sky. My heart quickened, but as the mass came closer, I could see it was (just) geese.
Truth be told, I’d been looking for another critter, and I found it in one of the most unlikely places. As I passed by Hency Marsh, I saw it. A Sandhill Crane standing in the snow. It wasn’t moving at all and it made me wonder if it was stuck or frozen in space. Or maybe, it wasn’t moving because I was there so I drove off to give it a chance to do it’s own thing.
As I rounded the corner, I came upon two more cranes, this time in a setting more natural to them. What graceful birds they are as they moved nearly in tandem through the field. The cranes were not happy with my presence, however, and quickly turned their backs to me and continued the walk in a different direction, bugling their discontent the whole time.
With sunset approaching, I wanted to return to the marsh to check on the crane I’d imagined was stuck in the snow. When I returned, the crane was gone so I felt relieved. I was just about to leave when my eye caught movement in the red vegetation. Camouflage artist! With its red eye and crest, the crane blended in perfectly.