Monday, December 20, 2010


Carroll and I met in the middle to see the sandhill cranes. We hoped to see some whooping cranes as well. The volunteer manning the desk said there are an estimated 7,000 sandhill cranes at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge this winter. She also said there are a "hand full" of whooping cranes. Whooping cranes are a bucket bird for me and Carroll, and our spirits were high.

We arrived at 9am and followed a volunteer in who opened the refuge gate. Sandhills were flying all around us, trumpeting their holiday greetings. I spotted one whooper nestled in with the flying sandhills, but it was a brief glimpse only. Once settled in the observation building we watched sandhills come and go amid a great amount and variety of ducks.

Lots of courtin' going on.

Sandhills flying and sandhills foraging.

Great flocks of sandhills flew right past our windows.

Sweet, soft morning with the cranes.

They flew right over the building, which has a speaker system installed. Inside, you can hear every trumpet call, every quack, every birdsong. The experience is complete.

As the sandhills fly past I spot two brighter cranes off in the distance. Could it be...?

Yes, the mated pair of whoopers our volunteer told us to be on the lookout for.

We watched the soar and ride the currents up and up and up, then down, down, down, like a slow aerial ballet. Finally, they began their landing approach.

In concert.


Bo Mackison said...

Wow! Whoopers!
So nice!

Do you have a bucket list for birds, or a bucket list of birds you wish to photograph, or both, or neither? :-)

Caroline Gill said...

These are wonderful photos! We have a project to re-introduce cranes into the Somerset Levels in the UK.

Diana (Di) said...

I so enjoyed looking at the photos. Watching for birds is what I do a lot of many days... such delight in that.

I wanted to be sure and stop by and say Merry Christmas to you and yours! and may the New Year be joyous and filled with much good health and happiness. See you next year. ;)

Gaelyn said...

Wow, what a Great show! And the whoopers. You caught them in action. And, Love your header!
Hope you're doing well over the holidays.

Eve said...

what a lovely post Debi! You were there just before us! You got to see them land! how cool! Beautiful photos! I'm jealous!
See you soon!

Anonymous said...

There flight looks like a rhythmic song. Life is filled with poetic codes.

Anonymous said...

We've been picnicking here at your doorstep and listening to your solstice music for a while.


Rural Rambler said...

Debi, the new header is awesomeful!!! I clicked on all the pictures in this post and Wow! The two Whoopers in the last picture look like they are doing the dance! Love the first and seventh shot!

Naquillity said...

what a beautiful post. all your pictures are great. this year i was introduced to a thousand cranes (oragami) when someone gave me three cranes hooked together. they represent good health when given to someone who's sick. when i saw your post it was uplifting for me as cranes now represent something bigger to me. i was diagnosed with colon cancer Dec 1st and will have surgery to remove it Thursday. so i want to say thank you for sharing such a beautiful post with great meaning to me. hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones and know that your posts are helping someone heal across the world. have a great day.

wcgillian said...

What can I say, "great post Deb" already have said that a thousand times because you always have such beautiful photos and subject matter. By the way, I want your camera for Christmas!

Steve Borichevsky said...

How cool is this!


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