Monday, August 17, 2015
Sandhill Cranes along Otter Lake Road
I had a very unexpected wildlife encounter recently. I was driving along Otter Lake Road with my friend Roger who was up for the weekend and we had been talking about spotting wildlife. He was mentioning how good I was at spotting animals and how bad he was at it. Just seconds after he said that, he said "I think there was one of those birds back there... like the ones we go to Nebraska to see". I said "What? A sandhill crane?" And he said "Yeah". So, I stopped the truck and we backed up to a logging cut that we had just passed. Sure enough, there was the head of a crane sticking up above the tall grass near the edge of the clearing. As we looked closer with our telephoto lenses we saw a second head, then a third pop up from the grass.
The cranes had spotted us as well and as they often do in Nebraska, as soon as they spotted us they started walking away. They were moving towards a trail that went in between two logging cuts. We followed them slowly to try and get a better shot but they were moving too quickly and we didn't want to spook them so we took a few shots from far away and called it good. After we could no longer see them I decided to walk up into the second clearing and see if there was another chance to photograph them. By the time I made it up there, though, there was no sign of them. It was such an unusual encounter, I never ever thought I would see sandhill cranes foraging in a logging cut! There must have been something they wanted out there, because they were pecking at the ground as they walked along. Seeing these birds was definitely one of the highlights of our day!