Whooping Cranes

January 10, 2021

At approximately 58", the endangered Whooping Crane is the tallest North American bird. Along with the Sandhill Crane, at 48", it is one of only two crane species found in North America.

The Whooping Cranes breed in Canada's Northwest Territories and winters on the Gulf Coast, primarily in Texas's Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

I got a tip from a resident that some of the Whooping Cranes have been spotted close to The Big Tree, near Goose Island State Park. I got up early and arrived an hour before sunrise. As daylight started to appear, there was some dense fog. I had 4 Whoopers fly over the top of me towards another open field.

I watched for a minute and then drove one road over and spotted the Cranes. I took a few shots, but the fog was still too dense. 

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After about an hour, the fog started to clear, and the sun began to light up the fields. I didn't see the Cranes, so I drove around the block trying to find them again. As I turned the corner driving along the coastline, I spotted 4 Cranes in an empty area between two houses.

Wow, what a sight! I was reasonably close; I shut off my Jeep and slowly got out. They were bigger than I imagined, and they didn't even seem to know I was there.

There was a large stand of tall grasses and reeds in front of me, so I could slowly move around without spooking them. I watched and photographed them for about two hours. 

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They looked to be feeding on something, but I could not tell what it was. Some danced around for a few seconds, which showed their beautiful black-tipped wings. I was in awe of their size and beauty.

I was hoping to get some in-flight, but they just seemed content to stay on the ground. I'll go back again and hopefully get lucky with getting some flying. 

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I did get to witness a territorial confrontation with a Blue Heron.
All along, there was a large Blue Heron about 30 yards from the cranes.

The Heron, minding its own business when suddenly one of the Cranes started to walk towards the Heron. I didn't know what to expect. As the Crane approached closer, the Heron ruffled up its feathers. They stared at each other for what seemed like a few minutes, and then the Crane took another step forward. The Heron stood up nose to nose to the Crane, and after a few tense moments, the Heron backed down and walked away.

That was pretty exciting to watch and being able to photograph the event. 

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Photography should be fun! It's not about the phone or camera brand you're using. Always remember, your best photographs are the result of one thing, making an effort to get out and shoot.

Comments always welcomed.
Mark