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!
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.
Posted by R.Powers at 10:05 AM