On this second day of Spring whilst driving home, after my customary Tuesday morning breakfast with friends, I was intent on taking the scenic route back home in the hopes of spotting some Wild Turkeys on the way. As usual, I was out of luck in that endeavor, but was recompensed with a lot bigger and more pleasant surprise than I probably deserved! In the early morning sunshine, glistening on the fields, the sounds of migrating Canada Geese were heard once again, and the air was full of birds honking as they either flew over-head, or took a break from flying on the ground in the corn stubble. The hedgerows too were noisy, as Crows cawed and other smaller birds had their say, amongst them a Red-Wing Blackbird perched in the top of a tree, with epaulettes proudly showing. What a great start to another Spring! But wait, I’m not finished yet with my surprises!

As I drove slowly and carefully along the road with my camera at the ready around my neck, and peering across the fields for signs of my Wild Turkeys, I caught signs of movement above me, in my peripheral vision, in the distance. With the car engine running, I hadn’t detected any noise and didn’t until after I had stopped and got out of my car. Skeins of Canada Geese accompanied, evidently, by other birds were either passing overhead or coming in to land for a rest. The various “vee” formations flew by at varying heights, and I was able to get a few passing shots of them with my camera. However, my skyward gaze soon passed downwards to a grazing flock of them in the snow-covered fields. But wait, something was odd about some of those birds,–they stood taller than the geese did! Wow! A double check with my telephoto lens confirmed my visual view of them,— three tall and graceful stork-like birds feeding with the geese, but they weren’t storks they were Sandhill Cranes!

(My apologies to the lovely young lady, with the dog in the back-seat of her car, who stopped to inquire if I was OK. During my conversation with her, to reassure her that I was, in fact, OK and that I was taking pictures of the birds in the field, I erroneously mentioned Storks!  — As soon as she drove away, I knew that I was wrong,–again! Of course I don’t carry my bird books with me! I confirmed my error when looking at my pictures at home! Must be a lesson there somewhere!)

Yes, these “interlopers”, were Sandhill Cranes and became the focus of my attention for quite a while, as my camera and I tried to battle the reflected glare from the sunny glazed surface of the snowy field. I wasn’t entirely successful at my first vantage point, so almost gave up. However, I decide to try from another view point further down the road, which is what I did unsuccessfully, so I drove on again. My direction took me around a ninety degree bend, so the sun wasn’t doing its worst when I stopped and spotted them once again in better light. The geese had departed and the Cranes seemed set for quite a long stopover. I was getting to the stage where I thought nothing else was going to happen, so I went to try a spot down by the river for other birds. There not being too many, I took one last go at watching the Cranes, in the hopes that I might get a shot of, at least, one of them in flight. Nothing seemed to be indicating a take-off until a “man-made” rotating winged beast (Helicopter) happened to pass-by, at a distance, but still quite audible. This took the Cranes’ attention and was making them nervous, so I waited in anticipation for them to make a move. Luckily I didn’t have to wait very long, once the aircraft’s noise had subsided, and I was treated to watching the three of them take to the air. What a beautiful spectacle to behold, as I struggled to get the in-flight pictures of them that I was seeking. I was really lucky not only to get just one, but managed to get all three,–super!

After a successful couple of hours, I finally got home and was able to “cap off” the morning  with a picture of a fluffed-up Robin, getting its first look at our garden on its return to us for another few months of summer. I hope that you too are getting treated to the birds’ return to your own gardens. Stay safe and well,

John Baldwin


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