It was early Saturday morning when I came to the No Trespassing two-track. Quiet, with no one around. The nearby farm didn’t have the usual cars parked outside, and no equipment was in the fields.
Perhaps motivated from the excitement over my brother’s nesting crane**, I started down. I admit I felt nervous and even a little guilty.
But I had to know what was in the large tree stand where I’d recently seen eleven cranes. The area backed up to the cornfields and meadows were I often saw cranes. Were there wetlands? Nesting areas? On I drove.
I didn’t get far when I noticed two cranes at the bottom of the hill ahead of me. One was preening and the other was heading into the brush. Could there be a nest?
Even though I was a respectable distance from them, the cranes spotted me and headed away from the brush, their herky-jerky walk taking them to a nearby meadow.
With the cranes gone, I started down the two-track again. The farther I went, the dicier the path got. Very rutted from large tires, and quite sandy. Undaunted, with faith in my Subaru, I continued on.
Right away I saw the area was a huge wetland, with lots of small ponds. A perfect habitat for all kinds of critters, including cranes.
As I got deeper into the haven, I saw trees and marshland throughout. I didn’t see any nesting cranes, however, which was disappointing. But the potential was there.
I reached the end of the two-track and drove out of the trees and onto a hillside. The view was lovely on this spring morning and the scene was a testament to why I photograph this farm country over and over again in all seasons.
As I turned around and headed back through the woods and out of the two-track, I received another gift of the day. Trillium were in bloom!
But the wetland habitats and trillium were not the only gifts of the day. As I emerged unseen from the two-track, three Sandhill cranes were pecking for food in the nearby meadow. From their coloring, they appeared to be two parents and a young adult crane.
It was puzzling, however, why the young crane was still with its parents. Typically crane colts stay with their parents for less than a year, most often nine or ten months, separating after the fall migration. If the crane remains with the parents through the spring migration, the parents will drive off the youth as they establish their breeding territory. Guess that hasn't happened quite yet. Regardless, it doesn't get much better than this!
**If you'd like more information on my brother's nesting cranes, see my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/karen.casebeer.79. Or visit my brother’s blog for the full story: https://itsmytimephotography.com/