My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Constructions of Cranes

January 29, 2018

A group of cranes is sometimes called a construction.  I decided to go to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge,  in Alabama, which has lots of sandhill cranes, and sometimes whooping cranes.

Since it is some four  hours away, not counting stops, I decided I needed to leave at 3:15 A.M. to get there near sunup. I was a little late leaving but then gained an hour going to Alabama, which is in the Central Time Zone.  So I got there just after sunrise, before the road to the Visitor Center was open, but I was able to visit the boat launch park just across the road.

There I found cranes crowded onto sandbars with small groups periodically flying out. I spent at least thirty minutes there, engrossed in photographing them, both on the ground and in the air.


Sandhills waking up 


And flying in the golden light


A pair of cranes feeding

Then I went on to the Visitor Center. I has a very nice display, a little gift shop and friendly rangers. I got a map and great directions to places to see lots of ducks and geese. But first I went to the Observation Building, a two story edifice with glass walls on three sides. Soon after I got there, I found the ONE whooping crane that is currently on the refuge.


I was fun to shoot flying cranes through the windows of the Observation Building




Whooping crane drinking

You can see how much bigger the whooper is than the sandhill


I didn't get close enough to see many other birds, but this thrasher was in the bushes along the trail to the observation building. I caught him in the midst of his morning's grooming.


Almost got this pair flying in beautiful light


One of the few passerines I saw was this brown thrasher who was grooming

The ranger told me how to find a large flock of snow geese.


Snow geese resting at midday

Then something put them up

After taking a break for a late lunch, about three o'clock, I came back to the visitor center area so see if there was anything exciting happening. Clouds were forming in the sky and making a nice background for the still flying cranes.


Cranes in late afternoon

I came home feeling that I had definitely seen several constructions of cranes.