Saturday, January 05, 2008

Jimmy Neutron Meets The Sandhill Cranes


My wife says I look like Jimmy Neutron in this pic.
I say Jimmy has a lot more hair ... and it's not greyesque.


I was trying to capture the "Damn, I'm happy to be here at this moment" glee I was feeling, while I was stalking sandhill cranes, glossy ibis, mergansers, white ibis, woodcocks, egrets, plovers, herons, LGB's, and woodstorks through the tall grass and brush surrounding a woodland lake.

It was late in the day when Mrs. FC, Emma, and I came across this shrunken lake. At least half of the lake bed was empty and filled with tall brown grasses that rustled constantly in a bitingly cold wind. The windchill factor was in the 20's which is pretty respectable for Florida cold.
The reduced waterlevel had concentrated a wide variety of waders and waterfowl in a small area and even now I'm kicking myself (ouch!) for not getting there earlier, because the winter light was fading fast.

I still managed to shoot beaucoup photos though ... too many for one post, so today it's just big bird.

There was a quartet of sandhill cranes walking the border between the hickory, sweetgum, oak forest shade and the sunny, grassy pond perimeter. Sandhills have really adapted to humans in Florida and can be seen walking around golf courses, backyards, pastures, and even the University of South Florida campus according to Emma.
I think these four cranes have spent time around humans before as they were cautious but not skittish. That meant that as long as I moved slowly, I could get pretty darn close to these wonderfully huge birds. The pictures seem to show only three cranes, but one poor fellow kept getting cropped for artistic purposes.


Something ... maybe Emma and Mrs. FC off in the distance caught their attention.

Then it was back to doing crane stuff.

There was some debate about which direction the flock should go.
Check out those nostrils ... wowsers!


Eventually, they moved under the oaks and spent alot of time feeding. I'm assuming they were eating acorns as the ground there was littered with them.
What a year for acorns!


Showing off.


This one is about to do battle with another. I caught that action in a pic, but it's blurry due to 1) very low light by that time 2) rapid movement by the cranes 3) I wasn't expecting a fancy wingflapping display and wasn't prepared.
Of course they wouldn't do it again after I frantically set the camera and flash to stop the action.


The sandhills were so cooperative, that I actually got bored shooting them and went off into the tall grass to stalk the other waders and waterfowl.
While I was mucking about, they flew overhead on their way to the evenings roosting site.

Cold weather, a marshy lake, a smorgasboard of birds ... it all adds up to a day even Jimmy Neutron might envy.

18 comments:

roger said...

the jimmy neutron look needs a bit more hair, but otherwise...spot on!

nice cranes too. is one of them frasier crane?

The Troll said...

Great shots of those magnificent and very LOUD birds! Or maybe they're only loud during mating season or something? I dunno.

threecollie said...

I can see the resemblance! Great crane shots.

Danielle Blogging for Balance said...

You do look like Jimmy Neutron!!! How funny ;)....My wish for the new year is that one day I will be able to 'shadow' you with my camera in hand. These are some awesome photographs!!!! We live in an awesome place don't we?! Happy New Year! I have been by often but haven't caught my breath enough to stop and say hello.

Rurality said...

Cool! I've never gotten than close to any cranes. I love the sound they make. :)

Never heard of Jimmy Neutron though. I must be culturally deprived!

Kimberlee said...

Jimmy Neutron...I can see it...must be your animated expression! :)

Great photos! They seemed to actually stop and pose for you!

Sharon said...

LOL! Your head is not quite as bulbous as Jimmy's, lucky for you. ;) There is quite a resemblance, though. Awesome pictures. I love the one with the two looking in opposite directions.

Floridacracker said...

roger,
no, but stephen was the one with the red badge on his head.

Troll,
Yes, they are honky.

3C,
Fun to be near such big birds. They are everywhere down here this time of year.

Danielle,
This lake is right outside Brooksville in the state forest. And yes, this place is still extremely awesome!

Rurality,
Okay, turn off the Nascar and watch an episode of Jimmy Neutron or two.
It's part of your cultural withitness training.

Kimberlee,
They really did. No fear of me as long as I kept a respectable distance.

Sharon,
Me two, that double shot is my favorite of this sequence.
Good to know I'm not as bulbousheaded as little Jimmy.
It would be nice to be as smart as him though.

Laura said...

I've heard of Jimmy Neutron, but i've never actually seen him. I'll have to take your wife's word for it! I have heard of Frasier Crane, however, and I think the showoff standing on one leg could pass for him.

On a serious note, I really enjoyed these photos. What a great way to spend a late afternoon, FC. I can't think of anything better at the moment.

Meems said...

There are endless wonderful places in Florida! There's hardly a morning goes by that I don't get to hear these magnificent birds with their loud announcements flying overhead above my yard. I never tire of hearing them or watching them forage as they saunter through our neighborhood- like you said - quite adjusted to humans.

Beautiful captures... Can't wait to see the other birds you photographed.

Wren said...

I had to google Jimmy Neutron, and I can't say I see the resemblance myself (unless it's the "boy genius" part). However, I will certainly defer to Mrs FC in this regard.

On the other hand, those are some outstanding crane photos. I thought the close-up head shot was my fav until I saw the three in a row. What a great day!

Rurality said...

Nascar? What's that? In this house it's Formula One all the way, baby! :)

But you know, I'm not allowed to touch the remote. Because I'm a girl and all. I might break it.

Floridacracker said...

Laura,
It was a nice afternoon ... a good way to decompholidaypress.

Meems,
They are pretty amazing and their adaptability bodes well for their future.

Wren,
She says the "boy" is definite, but the "jury is still out on the "genius" part.
Glad you enjoyed these crane pics!

Rurality,
Oops! I knew it was some kind of car thang.
Most remotes have a built in Y chromosome detector chip these days, so you really should leave it alone.

Deb said...

Getting in a little late here, but I just adore sandhill cranes, which I did not see here in Minnesota until I was well into my twenties. Do they give their loud, prehistoric call when they are overwintering there? That to me is THE definitive sign of spring. I am fortunate to have a pair of cranes nesting in the marsh along Sand Creek.

Floridacracker said...

Deb,
Fortunate? Blessed might be the better word :)
Yes, they do a lot of calling. You can hear them when they are distant specks overhead.

CrackerCowLady said...

Love your sandhill crane photos! We have a few in our immediate area, plus some at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park where I volunteer. Here in Citrus County,
we get excited about the whooping cranes (17 of them are on their way down from WI following ultralights to their new winter home in Chassahowitska.)Check operationmigration.com to follow their journey south to Florida.
Barb (crackercow.com)

Floridacracker said...

Barb,
Thanks for that link! The sandhills made me wonder about those whoopers and now I know.

alluring hope said...

thanks for the pics. i love it when i hear our sandhill cranes coming back in the spring. one year i got to see a pair hatch out three babies.