Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Sunday Sandhill Sunrise Spectacle

Attempt after attempt has rendered a tad more success in finding the Sandhill Cranes, and the degree of difficulty, a bit more in my favor, since my initiation into the Obsessed Sandhill Crane Fanclub.

This being said, Sunday was no exception to the latest and greatest of Sandhill Crane Expeditions, as I like to call them, because it's never an easy task out here.

Here's how it played out:

Parking in the usual spot, and listening for the morning
call-of-the-cranes at sunrise, has been a staple.

It lets me know that:

1. They are still here, and have not migrated south yet...
2. They tend to move to find breakfast, so get ready!
3. Getting up this early to hear that melodic sound is oh-so-worth-it!

There are some downsides to all of this drama:

1. The Sandhills do not phone first to tell me they are going to fly that day, so I do sit for several hours on any given day, without a siting.
2. They tend to fly in other directions that differ from my location.
3. The sun and the sandhills do not always align for optimal shooting conditions.

So getting to the meat of the stew, saturday was unproductive. We did heard them in a more northerly location, so we adjusted our parking place to a closer spot, but we did not see them from the new site. For sunday, we parked where we always are, and heard them within 5 minutes. All of a sudden, we see them take a southerly route, but turn sharply west, and head in our direction. The positioning was acceptable, but if I had the best vantage point, I would have been on their other side, as they flew. I shot plenty of frames as they lofted past. Checking the photos on the camera, I was somewhat happy with better lighting than in the past, although my settings still needed tweeking.

Where I need the "Help Department":

1. If only they would fly into the sun instead of against it. They fly west, leaving their wings and tail partially lit, instead of their heads and leading wing feathers.
2. If only I had known that I left my menu setting on "Landscape", thus leaving me with photoshop techniques to brighten up the photo. The grain is quite evident in their underexposed bodies.
3. I need the "Help Department" to plead with the cranes not to leave, before I get in 1 last shot!

Thanks to everyone who always have a nice comment, and sticks with me through these episodes of insanity!


Bird Girl said...

Woooooooooo-hoooooooo!!! Your incredible persistence pays off! That is the best one yet! Beautiful flight shot of a pair of Sandhill Cranes!

Gardener's Garden said...

This is a nice clear shot of the two in flight and in the past mine have not left until the opening day of gun season. Last year my flock numbered 50 and they came to the cornfield after the last cutting. I actually had a month to watch these beautiful birds until some inborn instinct told them it was time to go. I really admire your stamina and am enjoying the journey.

Shellmo said...

I admire your persistence - I think this is a great shot - I love being able to see their large wing span!

The Birdlady said...

Closer and closer - soon they'll be eating out of your hand!