I have stayed in the same hotel in Addison TX a couple of times recently for work trips. The view from my window has been of a building site that has been progressively developing on each visit. On one morning, I was just getting ready to check out when I could see the crew getting ready to lift a concrete panel into place. The crane they were using was a substantial beast. The crew were scattering to different locations to carry out their roles and then they started lifting the panel. They had several lift lines which could be controlled individually to allow the, to rotate the panel as required. Sadly I had to go before they finished. I should be back before too long, though, so I shall see how progress is going.
I might have been visiting Mare Island to see the museum and surrounding area but I also got to fit in some wildlife viewing while I was there. I had stepped out of the back of the museum towards one of the dry docks. One of the guys working in a business nearby starting chatting and saying how he wished he had a long lens with him to photograph the ospreys. I could hear a lot of noise but he pointed out the source. All of the high structures around the docks be they cranes or gantries seemed to have a nest on them. Ospreys were all over the place. They had access to the fishing in the water a short distance away so the metalwork was providing a great vantage point with plenty of privacy.
The noise from the nest close to me was pretty loud. A chick was obviously awaiting some food. At first I thought the parents were going to come right in but then I realized that there were so many nests that the birds I could see flying were not necessarily anything to do with this chick. I don’t know whether it had worked that out, though, given the noise it was making when any bird came close. I have no idea how much the nest impact the operation of the machinery and whether there are any restrictions on what can be done when they are in place but they are clearly all over the place.
It is funny who something you will be doing or watching will trigger a memory and then I find myself wondering whether it is something that has appeared on the blog or not. The longer the blog runs, the harder it is to remember whether it was going when something happened or whether I have had a previous time when I thought I should cover something older. The sandhill crane migration is one such event.
The first time I came across the cranes was when we were driving through Nebraska. The fields were full of birds although, for a while, we didn’t realize that was what they were. From the interstate as we zoomed along, there was obviously something in the fields but we couldn’t tell whether it was a plant or a creature. Then we saw a lot more of them flying and it became clear. We were making a lot of distance on that trip, though, so we didn’t stop to investigate.
I later saw individual cranes at various spots within reach of Chicago, often up in Wisconsin but sometimes in the northern edge of Illinois. However, these were usually one or two at a time. I was advised by my friends, though, of the big migration that comes through Indiana. The place to go is Jasper Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana. This was a couple of hours or so from home and you wanted to be there for sunrise so it was an early start.
The location is popular with the migrating birds and they hang out in the fields in huge numbers. As the sun comes up, they get more active and start to take to the wing. It is early in the morning so the light can be really good. Added to that is a viewing platform that is positioned so put you up sun from the birds. It can be a touch chilly and sometimes breezy so dressing warmly was a big deal but it was worth it.
You could either watch the individual birds as they flew or appreciate the huge numbers as they flocked together. They were everywhere. The noise was impressive too. Compared to visits that my friends have made, I think the birds were staying away a bit while I was there so a lot of this was long lens work. Even so, there were still quite a few that flew close to us. Forgetting the photography for a moment, the spectacle of some many large birds taking wing is something not to be missed if the opportunity presents itself.
A sign of spring is when wildlife starts showing up that you haven’t seen for a while. I had a couple of experiences within a day of each other of exactly this. One seemed perfectly reasonable but the other was probably not the best idea. We were walking in a state park up in Wisconsin when we heard a lot of noise. At first I thought it was geese but, as the huge flock of birds approached, it became obvious that they were cranes.
The cranes flew around a lot as we walked, some were high but others were quite low. We walked on with not too much more attention to them as they honked their way around the area. However, the following day I was down at O’Hare. I saw something large and wispy in the sky and realized that it was a flock of birds. As they came closer, lo and behold but more cranes were coming to town!
Now, O’Hare is not exactly a bird friendly location. Having flocks of pretty substantial birds in the vicinity of so many aircraft did not appear to be a particularly good combination. The birds swirled around for a couple of minutes, fortunately a little higher than the aircraft on approach. Then they drifted off in a different direction and i didn’t see them again. Not a great idea but, thankfully, no harm done this time!