Going backwards: In search of Sandhill Cranes

We’re back in 2016. November to be exact. Laura and I went in search of Sandhill Cranes. I’ve tried to capture their images a few times before, but was never successful. Even though they are large birds, they stand in the middle of the fields so my 300 mm lens has a difficult time. After a couple of years, I was beginning to think it was personal–they didn’t like me!

The Sandhill Cranes are migratory and are only in the area a few months of each year. They come in November and are usually gone by February.

We went to the Consumnes River Preserve and the Staten Island wildlife area. It was our last stop in the Sacramento Delta at Woodbridge Ecological Reserve Shelter where I saw them standing near the fence. I yelled for Laura to stop. She said there was no place to pull over. I said I didn’t care! So there we were blocking one side of the road. Fortunately, there was no traffic either way, and we were able to shoot the Sandhills.

Victory is so sweet! I’m so glad I went back through my photos and realized I hadn’t posted on the Sandhills because they are worth looking at. Let’s just say, “Give them a backwards glance!”

Expectations and the Sand Hill Crane

I must be setting my expectations a little too high when it comes to the Sand Hill Crane. After not being able to photograph them very well at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, yesterday I went to the Consumes River Preserve hoping to capture some images of the gray creatures.

When I read that there was a Visitor’s Center at Consumes, I was excited. I go there and be guided as to where the best viewing spot was. The Visitor’s Center consisted of two small billboard type signs and a pit toilet! Fortunately, there were bird watchers who helped guide me to where I could see the cranes.

Also, when I left home, the sun had come out and all was calm. I expected to have a great morning, relaxing and capturing the cranes with my camera. By the time I drove 30 minutes to the Preserve, the wind had picked up and was wreaking havoc in the marshes. Small birds were having a difficult time feeding, and even the large hawks were having trouble flying. The wind was harsh and cold. No one was hanging around, sitting and watching the wildlife.

So much for my expectations! It was windy, cold and the wildlife and my camera were struggling. It was difficult to focus as the camera kept correcting for the constantly moving marshland. I was able to capture images of the birds in flight, and have some of those shots to show you.

As you could guess, I didn’t stay very long. But, I did get some images of the cranes in flight and experienced the wetlands in not so friendly conditions. The ducks were huddled against little islands in the water, geese were staying on top of the islands and only large turkey vultures, geese and Sandhills were taking to flight.

Did I set my expectations too high? I guess I’ve learned that you can’t assume what nature will deliver. I might try again before the Sandhill Cranes leave the area.