Monday, March 14, 2011

Distant Encounters of the First Kind

We saw our neighbors walking along our road Saturday afternoon. It was a balmy sunny day, and their three old grand-daughter was running around with an exuberance only a three-old knows. We walked out to say hello and meet their son and daughter-in-law and their beautiful Sophie. It was the kind of day meant for chatting in the afternoon sun. Our neighbors are bird watchers. So, I was intrigued when Jackie started out saying, "We saw those birds, oh what are they? They fly in large flocks and make this incredible sound." I had no idea what she was talking about. She said, "Sam, what are those birds we saw? They winter in the wetlands in the valley, and migrate right over us on their way north. What are they?" Sam says, "Oh I remember, they're Sandhill Cranes."

I shouted, "What? Sandhill Cranes fly over our house on their way to somewhere every spring and fall?" I couldn't believe it.

Jackie says she just saw a flock fly over earlier in the week, and if there are no more this time, we should be ready for them in fall. She said she'll even call us if and when she sees them.

I am thrilled by all of this.
Later that same day, I grabbed the telephone to call my mom and headed out on the deck to sit while we talked. The phone rang once at her house, and I looked up into the sky. There was a large of flock of very big birds flying towards us. My first thought was, "Wow, those are huge geese." But then I heard their sound, the sound only a Sandhill Crane makes. I hung up the phone before my mom answered, and ran to get Roger. We stood out on the deck and had our first very distant encounter with Sandhill Cranes. The phone rang. I thought it must be my mom, calling to ask why I had hung up, but it was our very good and kind neighbor calling to say, "Go out and look at the sky. There are cranes flying over your house." I told her that we were looking at them and I was trying to get a photo. The above pic is the best I could do. They were high in the sky and moving. It was quite exciting.

How lucky we are again to have such good neighbors. If we hadn't had that conversation earlier in the day, I would have never guessed such a thing were possible. We're on the flight path of migrating Sandhill Cranes.
But then something else happened. On Sunday I remembered that I had photographed a large flock of what I thought were geese heading south last October. I thought they were pretty lousy photographs, but I saved them anyway. I just took a good look at them and discovered I had already photographed the migrating Sandhill Cranes then.

Life is good.

15 comments:

  1. Wow. If you have to have neighbors, those are the kind to have!

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  2. Life is most definitely good! We saw the most amazing congregation of Sand Hill Cranes many years ago as we were on a long, aimless drive that found us in, of all places, Nebraska. We came upon flocks of thousands-upon-thousands of them. The sound they make is so distinctive! You're very fortunate to be right in the path of their migration!

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  3. Life is good, indeed.

    (Now I'm heading to the Cornell bird site to learn more . . . )

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  4. WOW - lucky you! We have never seen them.

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  5. WOW - hug your neighbors and be on the lookout for more cranes.

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  6. so exciting!! Now I have to find a site that plays a recording of the sandhill crane -- Don't know if I know it. Too cool!

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  7. Lucky indeed. I have seen one or two flying over our property and last year there were a few feeding not far from us but it's a fairly rare bird to see in our immediate area.

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  8. I'm not a serious birder but as soon as I heard her description I thought "Sand hills."
    I am so glad you got to see and hear them. They are one of my favorite birds. I love that sound.
    In Florida, they will actually beg food from campers. They are taller than me so you don't ignore them.

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  9. Beautiful post and photos, but I was especially cheered by the last 3 words.

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  10. Other than footage on nature shows, I've only seen and heard these birds in the local zoo. Very Dr.Seussian kind of creatures! any chance you'll get to see them on the ground?

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  11. Oh, happy day! You have moved to a place that's as close to Paradise as is possible. How much more is out there to be discovered as the seasons progress?

    It is astonishingly cool that you've been able to photograph a whole flock of them. Thank you for sharing this with us (we Facebook-impaired types....). I'm very grateful.

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  12. They are the most interesting birds. We get to see hundreds here in the Sac valley and on the marsh in Oregon. Here is a site that gives info on them:
    http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/sandhill_crane/id

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  13. What a treat! For the eyes and for the ears.

    My verificatioin is "flyte."

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