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Cranes, Plains, and Autofocus

Each fall, sandhill cranes move through the agriculturally dominated plains of North America in flocks of thousands, taunting the autofocus of all Canon DSL cameras on the continent. The following excerpt comes from National Geographic:

"At four feet tall, sandhill cranes are some of the biggest flying birds. (The endangered whooping crane can grow to five feet tall, and ostriches and emus are taller but earthbound.) Sandhills have heavy bodies layered with gray feathers that form a “bustle” over their back ends. They also have lanky legs, and long, curving necks that lead to heads topped with crowns of crimson feathers.

We didn't head to Nebraska --there is a pandemic raging you know-- but we did head down to Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in northwestern Wisconsin. There, we circled the fields at dusk, squinting into the sunset, eagerly tapping the steering wheel in anticipation of that coo coo cooing call of cranes by the hundreds. Our first stop was just long enough to catch the buggers with their elegant wings outstretched in a quintessential craniac shot with my faithful Canon -skillfully set to Sport.

Despite having selected a GPS point, and seeing some birds in that area, the hotspot really was at the heart of Crex Meadows. By the time we spun into the marshy bends of the Meadows, trailing along the edge of a spillway dike, the overhead calls of sandies were so near as to be palpable. They dove in droves from their stereotypically high elevations to breeze down onto the fields beyond our sight. Caught betwixt the setting Wisconsin sun lowering its heavy lids on our birding adventure to the tongue-rolling coo cooing, our sight was filled with sandhill cranes. Hopefully, this will not be one of the memories we throw back to with a forlorn, "You had to have been there," in reference to the end of an ecologically rhythmic occurrence that has kissed Midwestern skies since humans first wandered over from the Bering Strait.

With love & nothing else,

~Rock Rat

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