Totally captivated in 2007 by the live camera feed of the Hornby Island nesting Bald Eagles in B.C., I was drawn into birding and have never looked back. Thus begins my account of what I'm fortunate enough to discover each day and perhaps capture with my camera.

Unless otherwise stated, all images were taken by and are the property of Janice Melendez

Species Counts:

2014 Final Year List: 255; 2015 Year List a/o June 5, 2015: 235; Life List: 327

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In Anticipation of Sandhills

I've got it, I've got it reaaally bad, the Sandhill Bug. After a day spent in vain yesterday in the Long Point area seeking decent visuals on our first Sandhill Cranes for the year, I felt compelled to fondly look back on last autumn's adventures with hundreds of these statuesque beauties not far from the cottage. Each night in early-October they would return to their roost in the shallow waters of an inaccessible lake and my first view of them at sunset was wonderful:

I was hooked, returning to the area whenever possible to observe and determine their daily routine, learning the hard way that their preference was to graze in distant fields by mid-morning if I left it too late: 

However, Thanksgiving Monday was a different story as the spectacular weather forecast promised to be one worth getting up early for, with morning mist dramatically highlighting the autumn colours:

A sweeping view of the misty countryside:

It no longer mattered if I dipped on the Sandhill Cranes that morning as the glorious landscapes had already taken my breath away:

But I began to hear those distant rattles of the Sandhill Cranes I so loved, and through the mist saw my first views of a small flock, double-click on this photo to see how many you can find! 

Following more sounds in the area, I discovered another small and chatty flock of them: 

 I quickly learned by the noise that hundreds of them had congregated in a valley I was unable to access, but based on where their preferred grazing fields were from my earlier visits, I positioned myself on a road that hopefully would be their flight path once they broke off into smaller groups. Sure enough, they began to take flight from the invisible valley and stream overhead as they sought out their fields:

More continued to move into the fields:

As I patiently waited in the car for the next few hours, they moved around from field to field overhead:

This Sandhill Crane was perhaps my favorite, even its muddied feet could not diminish its beauty and elegance:

That was the last time I was to enjoy those Sandhill Cranes as the next cottage week-end was my final one for the season. No matter, as pouring rain did not deter my inevitable detour back to those magical fields en route to the cottage. Instead of misty landscapes and autumn skies filled with Sandhills, I experienced the most bizarre combination of torrential rain, distant Sandhill Cranes returning to their secret roost for the night, a sunset to the west and this rainbow to the east: 

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