We drove the auto tour and saw a lot of birds... but the sandhill cranes, that winter there, had long since departed. They go back to Idaho, Nebraska... and even Alaska... their nesting grounds for the spring and summer months.
We arrived in Anchorage, Alaska near the end of April, and headed south to the Kenai Peninsula where we were to be campground hosts for the summer.
A snow and ice storm hit late in the season... so late in the season that those overhead traffic warnings were lit with this .... "Spring is Here... Have a Nice Summer". There were no road crews working.
The road to the Kenai was closed and we made an unscheduled stop at a state park office, just before heading into Turnagain Arm. We stayed in their parking lot for 3 days before the road was passable.
Apparently the cranes didn't know that spring would arrive late that year, because they, too, had arrived in Alaska. We walked a lot and saw quite a bit of wildlife. Bill came upon a moose blocking his path on one of his walks. But it was the ponds along side the road where we saw so many birds. I saw my first horned grebe there, and if I were to get out my journal, I'm sure I could list several other "firsts".
I saw my first sandhill cranes there.... not many... but seeing the first small group will forever stay in my mind.
Since then, we've been fortunate that we've "lived" close to the cranes in the different flyways. We did eventually volunteer at the Bosque NWR and even worked the Festival of the Cranes a few times. In Louisiana we had the opportunity to go with a crew that was tracking cranes who wear transmitters. They track the radio signals to locate the cranes. We even helped hold a crane who was injured and needed transported. Let me assure you... they are one BIG bird... with one HUGE beak!
Once you've heard the call of the cranes you'll never forget it. When they're migrating they catch a thermal and are so high in the sky it's very difficult to see them with the naked eye.
But... you'll hear them.
This flock of about 80 flew overhead a few minutes ago.
We're about 50 miles SW of Ft Worth, Texas.
I don't know where this group is migrating to, but know that we've seen flocks of them frequently in the couple of weeks we've been here.
Another fairly large flock was right behind them.
Even using my 300x lens and doing some cropping, it's still difficult to get a good photo.
Often we hear them but seldom locate them as they fly over.
But, we hear them talking to each other...
Possibly giving directions...
Or maybe just telling ancient crane stories they learned from their ancestors.
I hope every one of you get to hear the cranes flying overhead someday.
You'll never forget it.
That's All For Today!