I cracked my eyes open shortly after 6 a.m. The forecast called for cloudy skies, but it looked like there was going to be a visible sunrise so I got up, took Gracie out and fed her, and headed to the state park beach.
By the time we got there, the sun had just risen. The clouds and sun painted the sky in salmon-colored hues. I always enjoy being at the beach for a sunrise or sunset. The sounds of waves lapping at the shoreline add atmosphere to the scene.
We watched for a while and I noticed we weren’t the only ones there. Steelhead anglers peppered the shoreline trying their luck. Some were standing in the water to fish while others sat in chairs, their poles set up along the beach.
Having captured our sunrise, we headed to farm country to see what was cooking this early in the day. Almost immediately, we saw two Sandhill Cranes in a yet unplowed cornfield. One stood tall and watchful.
The other wandered among the corn stalks searching for its next meal. The pair must not be breeding yet since it didn’t appear there was a nest to care for.
Right away I noticed how different the morning sounds were from the late afternoon and evening ones. Red-wing Blackbirds screeching away versus the low undertone of the peeper chorus.
I came upon a seasonal road that I hadn’t taken in a while and I hoped it would stay as dry as it appeared from the outset and not be too rutty. Sometimes in the evening I’ve run into teens racing their ATVs and I hoped it would be a quieter drive in the morning.
This area is very biodiverse with forests, bogs, and open meadows. I’ve seen many bird varieties, including hawks, waterfowl such as Great Blue Herons and Green Herons, White-tail deer, and many small critters. While the bogs were wet, this morning I only saw swaying marsh grass, milkweed, and cattails, all lovely in the morning peace.
I was lucky enough to sight this doe at the edge of a wooded area. I wondered whether she had a fawn hidden in the copse of trees behind her.
Coming out of the seasonal road, I drove my usual farm country route. I noticed a few fields had been tilled over the past week, although the ground was still very soft and the plow left signs where it had been in the soil.
The field grasses had also greened up considerably. Good signs, all good signs as we inch our way into “real” spring.
As I passed a cornfield next to the meadow where I’d recently seen the lone crane, I spotted it feeding among the dregs.
It popped up and eyed me as I slowed to take a picture. Not wanting to disturb its breakfast eating, I moved on.
I hadn’t gone far when I noticed movement at the end of a long two-track leading into a valley next to a large group of trees. I’d always been curious about this habitat, but hadn’t ventured into it because of the “no trespassing” sign.
But what I saw this morning, made me even more interested. A sedge of eleven Sandhill Cranes was milling about. I wondered if they were “local” or were migrating to someplace else. Breeding or non-breeding. Regardless, my curiosity had piqued and I vowed to find a way to check this area out in the future.