September 9th

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

What a day.

I had four images that I had a really hard time picking between for today. Many firsts for me, so none could really outrank any others in terms of that. The quality of the stories that go along with them are about all the same.

So I’m going chronologically.

So, we’re starting with our main image for today: the Sandhill Cranes.

Yesterday I had mentioned that Paul and I were getting up early to head back over  to the wildlife refuge, and we did indeed do that. We knew we were really a month early for large flocks, but we wanted to check out the viewing area and I wanted to check out the lighting possibilities. A dry run if you will.

The Sandhills stage inside the park – in a specific area closed to the public – but they have separate areas around the park to view them as they fly over.

We got there before sunrise, and the noise from the Sandhill Crane flocks were so loud! The park ranger we had talked to the other day told us we’d hear them before we saw them, and she wasn’t kidding!

We were the only two there, so we set up camp. Camera gear came out (Paul brought his too!), along with folding chairs, donuts, and our thermos of coffee.

It was so relaxing! We chatted, ate our breakfast, drank our coffee, and would get up to photograph when any flew over.

Today, most of the birds flew to the east, so we never really had any come close, but this flock of four flew over the treetops right as the sun began to peek through the trees.

We’ll definitely be going back again throughout September and October.

Then, after the sun came up and the flocks had flown, we cruised around the perimeter of the park. We came up over a hill to a turkey traffic jam!

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If you followed my blog last summer, you know that I had a little run in with a resident Turkey at the farm. I attempted to photograph her all summer; I’d see her and she’d be gone. It became a sort of game. But then one day she literally showed up on my front porch and stared in our window at me, and it surprised both of us I think, haha!

So this run in made me smile. Especially since we followed them for about 750 feet before they decided to finally take to the ditch. I’m the meantime, I hopped out of the truck to grab a quick picture. Too fun!

Most of the park is hiking, but they do have one 7 mile wildlife loop that you can drive through. So we decided to check that out.

Bald Eagles, ducks, swans, pelicans, Sandhill Cranes, deer, wildflowers, native grasses, the list goes on. Here are a couple that I got from that drive:

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I had never been this close to Pelicans, so I was SUPER pumped!

Guys, I’m telling you, this place is so great! If you want to waster a couple hours on a nice day and see some wildlife, go here.

August 12th

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

My parents usually take a vacation every winter, meaning I’m up to bat for barn chores both morning and evening while they’re gone.

During that time, I’m always at the barn early, and I always love it. Magical things happen when the sun is just coming up.

With my parents gone at the cabin for the weekend, I rolled out of bed and into chore clothes to go feed everybody. Sure enough, I pulled up at the barn and saw a pair of Sandhill Cranes foraging in the back hay field. While having them around isn’t uncommon, especially at this time of summer because they have chicks and don’t fly, their backdrop of the fog and sunrise left me speechless.

Magical things, people.

 

August 10th

Friday, August 10th, 2018

I got a glimpse into God’s delight this morning. It still has me smiling.

I was packing up my car, on my way out the door to meet my friend, Tiffany, for a walk this morning when I heard Sandhill Cranes out in one of our hay fields. Freshly cut on Wednesday, we’ve had all sorts of critters hanging around out there now that the grass is down. So while hearing them didn’t surprise me, their distressed calls did. They sounded like they were being threatened; their tone was an anxious one.

So I put down what I was carrying, and peeked out of the garage. I went from concerned to delighted in less than a second.

Our two twin fawns were out antagonizing the cranes.

So what did I do? All together now: “I ran for my camera.”

How do I know those are the fawns, you may be wondering. Their playful, innocent nature gave them away. While they’ve grown very quickly physically, it was obvious from their behavior that they were still learning. Their curiosity in the cranes was endearing; the cranes were yelling at them, but that only increased their need to understand what they were.

Specifically for the fawn in front.  The instigator.

After the moment in my main photo for today, the fawns started grazing, and the cranes took that opportunity to move away from them. However, their distance didn’t last long. Instigator wandered back over, causing the cranes to really get defensive. They both opened their wings, ducked their heads, and charged.

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This caused a gleeful retreat from said instigator, tossing his head and bounding around like a giddy foal.

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He then ran over to his sibling,

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And they ran back toward the treeline together. But not before sharing in a mutual delight of a new discovery.

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Childlike wonder and delight aren’t a right reserved to humans. You see it in puppies, kittens, foals, calves, and as seen today, in wild animals as well.

It was a fun moment to witness today! I hope you all enjoyed this little play out of events as much as I did!

June 9th

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Well, Paul and I made it to three o’clock this afternoon and then we bailed.

At one point, everyone had to evacuate the field and take shelter because of the storm, but we got the all clear and started back up again. While all of the acts today were great, and we stuck it out for awhile, sitting in a steady rain wasn’t much fun for anybody. So we eventually did pack up and head home.

It was nice to have a relaxing evening at home, and to enjoy the little bit of sun that peeked out right as the sun went down. Paul and I were loading the dishwasher after dinner when we looked up and a Sandhill Crane couple were walking through our yard.

The sun was fading fast, and I had to raise my ISO higher than ideal, but I did get this one of the male catching the last bits of ambient golden light.

I love living here.

April 29th

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

This guy’s been hanging around lately.

Today, he stood in this spot for an hour. He also opened his wings and chased my car today.

He’s also alone, and the weather has finally made the turn toward spring.

Any guesses on what this may mean? Want to know my guess?

I’m thinking that his mate is laying on a nest nearby! My biggest clue was the fact that he chased my car – I’ve only had Sandhills confident enough to take on something as large as a vehicle when they’re protecting a nest. While they can be aggressive when protecting a nest, I’m excited that they’re so close. I’m hoping to catch a couple glimpses of a sweet little chick!

He did make me laugh pretty good today, though. On his rounds this morning, he walked up to a tree full of song birds, and opened his wings, hopped at the tree, and yelled at them. About 25 birds came flying out of the tree, and he was so proud of his ability to clear the area.

The swans are also settling into their nesting areas. The pair behind our house has been grounded for about 4 days and have also been pretty vocal lately. I went out to start working in my garden this afternoon, and the swans were resting in the field, and they stayed there while I planted my potatoes and onions. Pretty neat to be within 25 yards of such awesome birds like that.

March 24th

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

If you already read the post I made this morning, I apologize. Just like my rule of always (ALWAYS) bringing my camera with me, I should always wait until the end of the day to post. If you hadn’t read it yet, I kept it below for reference.

The funny thing about this post is that I’ve never gotten close enough to a Sandhill Crane to capture an image I was really happy with, and I ended up with this one this evening (one I am very excited about!) – but then this morning I rushed to post my image early. That’s the way of it, isn’t it? I say I’m satisfied, and God says, “Ok, watch this.”

I mean, look at this bird. Look at this image.

God blew it out of the water this time.

Especially since I am not brave when it comes to these birds – they’re large and in charge. However, He provided me with an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

 


 

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I don’t usually post this early in the day, because I like to see what the day brings in terms of photographic opportunities. But this morning was different.

Usually one looks into the sunrise, not at the light behind you.

That was the case for me this morning. I opened my eyes, and saw the vibrant colors outside, and knowing it was going to be overcast today, hopped up out of bed and went for my camera.

However, when I walked out of the bedroom toward the dining room (where my camera was), the room was bathed in red light.

It was beautiful!

March 17th

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! My day ended pretty miraculously with a pot of gold (sky) at the end of the rainbow. But more on that in a minute.

The weather was just miraculous today – 50 degrees, light wind, full sun. I was outside in just a sweatshirt today, and I didn’t realize how much my soul needed that. I was a rebel and even turned off the furnace and opened the windows this afternoon. The fresh air in the house was heavenly.

I planted the seeds for my garden today – just another sign of spring. Snap Dragons, Alyssum, peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes, just to name a few. They’re obviously being started inside, but watching them germinate and grow is such a delight for me.

I was so wrapped up in the beauty of the day that I hadn’t taken any pictures. So, it was a pleasant surprise when the swans started moving around tonight on my way back from the barn.

It started with a couple…and then they were everywhere.

The geese are starting to come back, and have been encroaching on the swan’s feeding grounds. So I guess tonight was the last straw, and the geese weren’t welcome anymore. Everyone was worked up – honking, trumpeting. It was like a tornado of large birds – and it was AWESOME.

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These are just a couple of my favorites. The sky just kept changing, and they all kept flying.

Once things had finally started to calm down a little, then I hear the distinct call of a Sandhill Crane. They’ve been around (six were in the field today), but this guy has been flying around alone all week. I don’t know if he lost his mate, or if he’s a juvenile just kicked out of the nest, looking for a mate, but boy is he loud.

Either way, it was so peaceful the way he flew over the trees. They aren’t overly graceful birds, however in the air they look so gentle and steady. I think this is because they have a very large wingspan, meaning they don’t flap their wings often in flight. If you don’t hear them coming (again, they’re loud – they sound like dinosaurs), they’re easy to spot in the sky.

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August 18th

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Paul and I woke up to a Sandhill Crane in our front yard today.

It’s odd to see only one, especially when we’ve had large flocks of 15-20 birds congregating in the low laying areas of local farm fields.

When Paul and I walked outside this morning we realized why. He hopped away from us, putting no weight on one of his legs. Injured, he had been abandoned by his flock.

The circle of life can be a hard one to witness, especially when there is nothing you can do but let them be. My presence would have frightened him, potentially causing him more harm in the struggle to retreat. So we let him be, and he napped quietly for most of the morning until he decided to relocate.

May 9th

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

While today’s image is not great technically-speaking, I saw something today that I have never seen before and wanted to share.

A new Sandhill Crane chick! LOOK AT THE CUTENESS! How is it possible that they start so small? Last spring this pair had a chick, but I didn’t see it until it looked very similar to mom and dad. This little guy was still fuzzy!

They walked up our driveway, then right on the edge of the field and our yard. They then proceeded to take a lap around our house and walk themselves back down the driveway. Definitely a treat to see.

April 25th

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

The light this morning was so so lovely.

Some days I struggle to create decent images, and then some days it’s a struggle to choose which I should use. Today was a process of elimination because of the light. And I can tell it’s going to rain as the animals were out in force this morning. (Confession: I’m going to cheat and post a second image at the bottom of this post because I’m that indecisive.)

Remember when I posted a month ago about the Sandhill Cranes and how I leave them alone when they’re nesting? Well I had another reminder yesterday.

As I was washing dishes last night after dinner, I watched a Sandhill Crane attack a Canadian Goose out in our front field. He flew in and landed on top of this unsuspecting goose; they literally tumbled, and the goose frantically struggled to fly away. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped. They are extremely protective, so he must have a mate not far from there that is nesting.

So when that same crane was standing in the same spot this morning, this scaredy girl stayed within the safety of her car when taking pictures. 👍

Here was the other contender for today:

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March 25th

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

Remember how I said I was terrified of Sandhill Cranes? I guess you just have to know the right guy for the job.

My grandma lives in a gated retirement community in central Florida. I haven’t visited her down there in at least 7 years, so I did not remember the amount of wildlife their park has. Alligators, Egrets, Osprey, and Sandhill Cranes all call the park home, and because they are used to living among people, they are willing to hang around and humor me while I photograph them. One of the pairs of Cranes had a baby, and when he walked into the light one morning, I had to photograph him.

March 16th

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

These big goofy dinosaur-like birds are back!

I’m pretty petrified of Sandhill Cranes, as I came across one with a baby by accident when I was riding my horse as a child, and it flew at me and very nearly attacked both me and my horse. I can’t blame her, but it was terrifying. I also keep a pretty healthy distance because these birds are almost as tall as me – 4 feet tall with beaks the size of my forearm. I love seeing them because they are so unique and beautiful, I just give them plenty of room (especially when they have babies!).

If their size isn’t intimidating enough, they sound like what I would imagine dinosaurs sounded like. And they are LOUD. If you’ve never heard one, click here.

Just another sign of spring, and I love it!