Friday, February 10, 2012

Wheeler Wildlife Refuge

Sandhill Cranes at Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, Decatur, Alabama

Carroll and I met in the parking lot of Decatur's Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Headquarters.  We hugged and laughed, excited to see each other after such a long time.  Our mission - to see the sandhill cranes before they fly northward for the summer.  Although it's still February, our weather has been very warm and wet this year which has altered many bird migration patterns.  Two weeks ago I was surrounded by 50 gazillion cedar waxwings.  Normally, they arrive in late March thru April.  But this many?  Now?  It's kinda weird. 

There they go...

These photos were taken in the fields on the drive in toward the headquarters building.  I didn't even get out of my car - just rolled down the window and fired off a few frames.  They didn't like it.  The squirrelly one in the center, above, spooked everyone else and all they flew.  These fields aren't normally this green in February. 

Northern Shovelers circling and eating...

After our hugging dancing jig in the parking we were surprised by the Operation Migration van! So surprised that we didn't even get a photo of it.  We'd heard that 7-9 whooping cranes were at WWR and were hoping to see them.  Clearly, the van's appearance meant they were there, somewhere in the vast acreage along the Tennessee River.  We later discovered that they were still contained in a "safe spot."  These whooping cranes had ample protection provided by law enforcement vehicles, or so we think because we spied 4 officer vehicles nearby. 

American Wigeon

Trudging silently through the pathway toward the observation building, we noted just how quiet it was.  No sandhills flew overhead.  No trumpeting off in the distance.  Nothing but the scritches and scratches of songbirds in the brush, and the quacking of all manner of ducks.  Okay, technically that's not "nothing," but ..... no sandhills. 

WWR Observation Blind - by reservation only

From our perch in the observation building we could see the observation blind across the wetland.  Scads of waterfowl and a few Canada geese.  The northern shovelers were circling and eating something beneath them - the water was very low.  No sandhills.  I've never been there when it was so quiet. 

Take a bow!

As the northern shovelers take a bow we shoulder our cameras and head for the cars.  This quick trip was fabulous in that we got in a nice visit in a beautiful locale.  I traveled a new path on my way home and made a discovery, which will be saved for the next post.  Sorry that I've been MIA.  Simply no adventures to share, but that will be changing....soon!  Stand by...


Gaelyn said...

What a great place to meet up with a friend. I really like the scare em off crane photo. Sorry you didn't see anymore but the rest of your sightings are great.

Good to see you back. A good sign?

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

Yes, Gaelyn. A VERY good sign. Little by little I'm coming back!

Shelley said...

One word - BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for sharing such a great reunion.

Carol said...

Wow! These are great shots Deb!! What a wonderful place and to capture flights like that just rolling down your car window!!! Fabulous! Keep posting!! Hugs, From the Cold North

Bo Mackison said...

Sounds like fun. I love cranes, love photographing them. Only seen whoopers at the International Crane Foundation, but they are the loveliest white.

Love these photos so much.


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