Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Whoopin' It Up

There are lots of good reasons for whoopin' it up. The snow last Saturday was absolutely beautiful. Monday it rained and everything turned to ice, but I did NOT fall and break anything - good news. Had a good day birding in Lexington yesterday. We didn't find the Short-eared Owl, but saw plenty of good ducks. The news came in last night that Sandhill Cranes were moving into their regular feeding-resting area in nearby Hardin County.
As I drove slowly down the country road (speeding up a bit when traffic honked at me), I saw clumps of gray Sandhill Cranes in the fields. Since the snow melted, there were plenty of casual ponds and lots of mud. The cranes were delighted, and ranged through the corn stubble poking around for anything edible. Nothing was frozen! Happy Day!
But one big puddle had three WHITE blobs along with the gray ones. OMG! That field has Whooping Cranes!! I pulled into the farmer's drive, and prayed that I wouldn't get stuck in the mud, as I climbed out with my scope. Two birds looked like adults, and the third was a little muddier looking - maybe a juvenile?
I learned some important lessons today though. When my 60x zoom camera is in super ultra zoom mode, it does not focus clearly. When birds are way out in the middle of a field, or a river, the poor little laser that ranges for the focus just can't find the target well. So things are a little fuzzy when zoomed all the way. Sigh. Lesson 2, trying to digiscope with a cell phone is not a good way to get distant photos either. First, I had trouble seeing through the scope lens via the phone's camera, and even then, the focus wasn't as good as it was when just my eye looked through the scope. As well. We must learn and accept these life lessons, mustn't we. Anyway, I was really excited to see Whooping Cranes!
I love to hear Sandhills calling as they fly. Doesn't it seem awfully early for these birds to be flying north? It's just a lucky chance that the snow melted, and they can find food today. According to Ky Dept of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the total number of birds around Barren River Lake went from 24K to 1.8K in a week, and there were 11K at Cecilia yesterday. They are on the move today with flocks going north. When they move to the next stop, they might be covered in snow and ice again. Just enjoy the cranes...


Grampy said...

Glad you included the clip with sound. Always great to hear them.

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enough to see the whooping cranes as well. I reported the sighting to the USFWS. The International Crane Foundation sent back some more information on the birds: :Thank you for your report of the three Whooping Cranes you saw in Hardin County, Kentucky, on 19 February! We received an additional report with leg band combinations. These birds are a newly formed pair, numbers 5-05 and 32-09, and a juvenile that was released this fall up in Wisconsin as part of a new reintroduction, #22-13. They wintered at the Hiwassee WR in Meigs County, Tennessee.

Based on additional sightings, it appears that they have continued north."