Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sandhill Cranes


I saw one of the neatest things yesterday afternoon.

Two days ago, I was cruising through some photography blogs and on one, the person had a couple of amazing images of sandhill cranes that they had recently seen and were able to photograph. (like the bird in the picture here I got off of Google)

I wrote a comment on the blog about my only experience in seeing live sandhill cranes.

It's basically this. One day at work, I was leaving for lunch and when I went out the turnstile to the parking lot. Where I work, all of the buildings are fenced in, and you have to scan a badge to get through the fence, and then again to get inside the building.

So, after going out the turnstile, right there beside the sidewalk to the parking lot, stood two sandhill cranes. Like they were waiting for someone to come out.

They were about 3 feet from the sidewalk, and were not scared of me at all. The looked me over pretty good, and I was looking them over pretty good too, because, hey, I've never actually seen a sandhill crane, and these guys are a yard away.

They're amazing looking and about 4 feet tall (1.3m). Then they started honking and skwawking really loud. That was after I had walked past, and their loud honks startled me. They are big, not afraid of anything as far as I could tell, and they could probably do some real damage if they wanted to.

I stopped in the parking lot and watched them a couple of minutes. They were actually kind of comical, just standing there like security guards or as if waiting on a pal.

That was several months ago, and what I mentioned in the comments on that blog.

With all of the security at work, cameras are a big no-no. That includes cell phone cameras. And who wants to leave an expensive camera in their car, right?

So last summer I had done some experimenting with a flexible, cloth-covered cooler like you'd take to a picnic or something. I put a big hardback book in there in the trunk of my white Taurus, and would go out at different times of the day to see how hot it had gotten. I was amazed that, even on the hottest of summer days, the book was only about the room temperature of a house or business. Not even warm to the touch, but not cold either.

Therefore, I had, on occasion, taken my camera to work, in it's thick padded camera bag, and that all inside the big flexible cooler, and even on hundred degree days, the camera was at about 80 degrees after a whole day in the trunk. Pretty cool, huh?

Well, no actually, not cool in this case. Because then yesterday, my back was hurting pretty bad, and the only way I made it to and through a day of work was because of pain medication. And when I had left for work yesterday morning, I looked at my camera bag, just sitting there like a puppy, wanting to go for a ride, and I left it sitting there.

Pain = no mood for photography.

So then yesterday when I shut down all of my stuff and log off all of the computers and go get in the car to come home, I'm still not thinking "camera" because, although it was an amazingly beautiful afternoon, the parking lot at work isn't a hot spot for great photographic experiences.

I load up, crank up, drive out to the unbelievably long red light to leave where I work, and turn north on Wickham Road in Melbourne (FL).

And I'm sitting there (long red light), and to my left, about 20 feet away in the manicured green grass were two of these sandhill cranes.

I think to myself, "Hmmm. I wonder if that's the same two from a couple of months ago?" but quickly dismiss that thought as unlikely.

And I hadn't any more thought that, when out from between one of the crane's legs comes a little baby sandhill crane that I hadn't noticed.

The adults were big, and they have dark gray feathers and intensely red heads, but the baby was only about a foot tall. Instead of gray feathers and red head, he was kinda cream colored all over. And instead of distinct feathers, he looked fuzzy like a baby chicken (on serious steroids maybe).

The one adult crane that the baby was staying closest to, would bend over, peck at somthing in the grass, like a bug or worm, but instead of picking it all the way up and eating and swallowing it, the adult would just pick up the morsel of whatever it was, and then quickly drop it right in front of the baby crane.

The baby crane was watching closely, and would then pick up the item just as the adult had, and eat the thing, whatever it was.

I was sitting here, watching this crane teach a baby crane what to look for in the grass and how to catch and eat it. National Geographic, right out the driver's side window of the car I happened to be driving.

Then I thought, "You know? If I had brought my camera anyway, I could be photographing that right now." Seriously, I could have had fired off fifty or more sequence shots of that whole cute little scene, and all without having had to get out of the car. The window was even already rolled down. Just pick up camera, point, focus, shoot. Because on the days I do take it to work with me, when I leave, I put the camera itself on the seat beside me, already set with an estimated exposure for a fast shot, and IF I would have simply done that same routine yesterday, I could have had some incredibly amazing sandhill crane and baby photographs.

Bummer. And that little feller was SO cute!

Then they crossed the road I was on, behind the car that was behind me. I heard something and turned off my radio and looked back, and one of the adult cranes was standing beside the passenger window of the car behind me, and was skwawking and honking real loud.

I looked back around, and the light finally turned green for us to go.

At least I had a nice show to entertain me at the red light this time.

1 comment:

Babystepper said...

Yeah, that would be the kind of cool thing that does not happen here in Oklahoma.

Cows, now, I can talk about cows.

Wish you had caught pictures. I'd love to see that. You described it so well, though, that I almost can.