I learn much from my photography treks. Over the weekend, I was out in farm country for the first time in a few weeks. I’m always in search of Sandhill Cranes, but I realized that hunting them in the same places may not always work.
For example, I saw cranes in great numbers in this area last year when it was a corn field. But because farmers rotate their crops, there will be different crops each year. Thus, no cranes here, but I did enjoy this beautiful field of hay bales. Lesson learned.
Then, a few weeks ago, I discovered a large swamp, outside the bounds of where I usually shoot. At that time, I flushed a great blue heron. I was hoping to spot another one this evening.
But there were no critters there this time. I admired the beauty of the marsh, though. So many types of vegetation. Lesson learned. Seeing a critter in a place one time does not make a pattern. I'll have to try again.
As I returned to my favorite block where I’ve often seen what I think is a pair of “resident” Sandhill Cranes, I came upon a pond with several juvenile Wood Ducks. They were beginning to bear the white facial markings, but none of the colors yet.
I rounded the corner and there they were…my two resident cranes. My pattern continued! I think this couple parented two young cranes last season, now off somewhere on their own to begin their adult lives.
I pulled off to the side of the road and watched them preen. They didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence or that of Gracie hanging out the window and quietly watching too. Perhaps, they had learned we'd keep a respectful distance and wouldn't harm them.
What contortionists these cranes are! Their long necks allow them to clean their feathers at even the farthest reach of their bodies.
Unfortunately, Sandhill Cranes typically come out to feed at dusk. So, with the sunset imminent and the sky already lavender, I had run out of light. It was time to let the resident pair live their lives so I moved on and headed home. An evening full of lessons.