Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rescue Me From Myself

As I sit here and type this entry out, I am (over)thinking of how to plot out my next move...

What is Hannibal up to now?...you might ask?

Obsessing over the sandhills, thats what!

Well, let me catch you up to date, plenty has happened...

Time is ticking away before the Sandhill Cranes in Goose Lake leave, which means I have been throttling up to get the shots I want in a hurry. I spent all weekend getting to Goose Lake before sunrise and listening for their melody to give direction to their location. I heard them every morning and hiked to my lookout after sun up. Nothing! On Thursday afternoon, I took a 3 mile hike to a new lookout and discovered tracks in the mud. COOL!




At the top of the hill, I sat on a bench provided to those who venture to reach this mecca. (Thank you Goose Lake!) Looking out at this vast prairie, I discover hidden lakes everywhere. I had no idea! Only google maps satellite images could reveal this secret. Scanning the lakes edges with my zoom, my ears perk to the sound of the sandhills. I peek out from behind the lens (because I can somehow hear better!), & I hone in on the direction the sound is coming from...Dead ahead! I scope the lens again and scan the area. Oooh...Whats that? Two white sticks poking out of the reeds about a million miles away from where I sit. One of the sticks disappears, then pops back up...Ooooh....It's them! I shoot a few frames and check the display:



COOL again!...Now I know the secret location from which they sing! But...There are no trails leading me in their direction...

I head back down the trail after taking the scenery in, and trek the miles back to the car (Ugh!). I need a new plan. Since I can't get closer to their secret locale, I must come up with a plot to put me closer to their flight route. The only flight route I have seen has been heading west. If I put myself in that flight pattern at the right time...It's all I have to go on. I saw one fly before dawn a few weeks ago...hmmm... I have my plan: So...Friday & Saturday, I wake up before dawn and go out there. I park my car and watch the horizon. The sun comes up, the time ticks by and no flight in my direction either day. Come on! I take the shorter path to my usual lookout on both days and hear their trumpets. Are you kidding me? Well...Maybe they didn't feel like flying today...I left near noon on both days. Maybe Sunday will be my day...And odds are growing in my favor...I hope...

Sunday arrives and I am in my usual spot, waiting for the sun to rise:



Time is passing slowly, but eventually my mood grows dark. It's the final day I can be here at sunrise, as Monday means the workday grind (5am-1pm), and I will miss the sunrise for another week.

It's nearing 8:00 a.m. and I am thinking of calling it quits...Then out in the distance...the trumpeting begins...I scan the horizon for a sign...Woohooo!...



They are flying to the south of me, but close enough to get a few decent shots...



I was thrilled that the plan worked.

I was thrilled that I was learning their behavior.

It's all a very good thing.

Am I satisfied?

No...Do I have a better plan?

Yes! Will it work?

Only if the cranes are still here and I get very lucky before the next weekend runs out, and I am out of time...

7 comments:

Shellmo said...

Hannibal - your patience and plotting are paying off!! Great shots!

Don and Sher said...

Yes patience pays off.

Bird Girl said...

You are so dedicated - I KNOW your plan has to work and get you closer for sure! Very cool - I bet you were so excited!

Todd Dixon said...

Ah...I recognize the signs of one dedicated to a purpose. Don't worry about the value of that dedication. No matter what others may say or think, you are your own best measure of success. Personally, I am cheering you on because I have found myself doing similar things for no other reason than not doing it would feel like I let an opportunity go by :-)

The Birdlady said...

How wonderful - I almost forgot we were looking for sandhills when I got to that sunrise picture! It's gorgeous.

Gardener's Garden said...

This is a wonderful piece of journalism and I followed your every step. I do think you have a little time since my cranes did not migrate until the opening day of gun season. Best of luck and I'll be looking forward to the final plan.

Andy said...

It is part of the adventure and when that photo is captured...icing on the cake!