Sunday, December 7, 2008

Out of the Garden

When we got out early this morning the temperature was 14F with a wind chill of 4F. All I can say is brrrrrrr. Needless to say we didn't get out of the truck much today. We did our birding from inside the warm cab.
Where we bird the water doesn't ever freeze due to it being a lake to recirculate the water that cools the energy plant. It makes for some interesting micro climates.
The sky turned colors as the sun rose. The gulls were cruising the edges of the lake looking for an easy meal. The herons were all hunkered down on the warm side of the break trying to keep from freezing.
All that mist from the lake was freezing as ice on the plants and heavy frost was on the rocks at waters edge.
When we came to the other area where we bird there was a a van sitting there with a big antenna on it. That was our first clue that the Whooping Cranes were still in the area. Eva Szyszkoski, the biologist that was manning the tracker this morning, was sitting there listening to the device.

I asked her how far away the WHCR could be and still hear the tracker. Of course there are many variables but on the ground up to 7 miles and in the air 30 miles. WOW I should have taken notes because Eva was a wealth of information. She also told us that one of these Whooping Cranes is the youngster that was here last year on its journey South. It is a female and is now in its adult plummage. Thank you for being patient and answering my questions Eva. I am still wondering if this female introduced this group to this area since she was safe here last year.
CORRECTION: Not only should I have taken notes for information I should have taken notest to get my information correct. Please see Eva's comment for tracking milage correction. Plus you can go Here for more interesting information.Eva also gave me this pamphlet that has lots of information. One of the web sites that you can go to for more information is the Whooping Crane Eastern Project here. They tell about how they raise the whoopers. All very interesting. Plus you can find ways to help with the project.
Our luck held as we drove around the county scouting for the annual Christmas Bird Count. We were blessed with a sighting of the Whooping Cranes that are loafing in this area. They were in a group way out in a field feeding. We stayed in our truck on the county road and viewed the cranes with our telescope. I digiscoped the pictures since they were so far away. There are two rusty ones in this group. They are the youngsters.
You can see the transmitters on their legs. The biologists can tell which crane it is by the color coded bands and transmitters. I am amazed that the Whoopers haven't departed from here what with how cold the weather we have had the past few days. It is time they departed for Florida.
When we were settling in for the evening my DB called me to the window to look at the red sky. It will probably be another sunny cold day tomorrow. A lovely sky to watch as the day ended. I hope you had a nice weekend.


  1. I guess the cold does have it's redeeming qualities!! Gorgeous skies and those bird shots are fantastic!!!

  2. Beautiful skies Lisa..the puffy pink clouds were fun to look at...I would love to have a closer encounter with whooping cranes then my computer! How neat for you! Gail

  3. Wow, awesome photo of the cranes. I see you had a great time.

  4. How thrilled you must have been to get to see them again. And I love that you could show us up close pictures. You can really tell the difference between the youngsters and the adults.

    A little warmer for a couple of days and then more cold and snow here. We are about 15-20 below normal for this time of the year. Have a great week!

  5. Great post, Lisa. Gorgeous clouds, skies and colors even though it was brrrrr cold. Isn't it a wonder how the birds adapt! Indeed those cranes would be much warmer down here in Florida but they must know what they are doing... glad you got to see them again.

  6. What great pictures! The birds are way cool, of course... but I loved the icy plant near the water's edge the best. I can never capture that "encased in ice" look so well--you did a beautiful job with that one!

  7. Oh, lucky you Lisa!! How cool that you got to talk to Eva AND see the cranes. :c)

  8. Wonderful shots of the cranes!

    Thanks for a very interesting post with colorful skies and rare sights!

  9. The sandhill crane project is such a great undertaking. So many volunteers giving their time and money to save these birds.

  10. Hi Lisa, thanks for taking us along on your birding expeditions. I love hearing about your sitings and this post was full of great info on the lovely cranes too. That sure is cold though, the cranes need to move on, but glad you got to see them before they go to a warmer clime.

  11. Gosh Lisa it is cold in your part of the world....

    Love the bird shots........I expect you were pleased to see the Whooping Cranes again.....

    The sky is beautiful.....we to have had some wonderful sunsets.......

  12. I loved your pictures of the morning sky. And the Whooping Cranes are awesome. I wonder what they think of their colorful bracelets.

  13. Lisa, this is fantastic. Looking at your photos, I could feel the brrrrrr... remembering winters in MD and DE when wind chills were sometimes way below zero. I gotta hand it to you, I don't think I would have been out there birding on a day like that.

    Those Whooping Cranes are creatures that make me jump out of my skin with curiosity.

    You done good. I felt like I was with you.


  14. Wow, Lisa. I love the foggy photo with the gulls and herons. You should frame that one! What a great day you had - too much fun!

  15. Hi again Lisa :-)

    What a wonderful post to accompany my breakfast! Wonderful skies and great to hear of your birding day – topped with some great photos too :-D

    You must have been delighted to come across the truck too to be able to chat about the Whooping Cranes as well as being about to see them for yourself :-D

    I was interested to see your digiscope pics. I have seen many birding blogs refer to them - some with close-ups for insects too. What is digiscoping? I am guessing it involves a telescope of some sort but how do you get pics from it? I’ve always wondered that :-D

  16. Reading your blog is like taking a fascinating course, Lisa. Honestly, I learn something new all the time. I'm going to check into the link. I didn't know whooping cranes were endangered. On a side note - I wanted to tell you that Tom loves his new binoculars. Thank you so very much for guiding me toward just the right ones! He even used them on the space station running across the sky last evening. Thanks again.

  17. Hi Lisa,

    I just wanted to let you know that the range on the ground is actually 3-4 miles. If somebody is tracking from a plane, then it is 7-8 miles.

    I'm glad I could help out with your questions! I'm always happy to help inform people about these wonderful birds!

  18. You are definitely a dedicated bird watcher! I'm sure you were thrilled to talk to Eva and gather more information from her. Again your timing is amazing!

  19. I just love going birding with you guys! I can feel the cold coming through in those photographs. Bet you were glad to be in the truck!

  20. Love the pictures. Especially the first one

  21. It's fascinating that a microclimate from moving water means you can see the whooping cranes, Lisa. Did you ever see the movie "Winged Migration"? The making of part in the extras shows how the ultra-light planes are used to fly along with the that idea!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  22. What a great sight it must have been to see the cranes. I can see I have missed some great posts over the past couple of weeks Lisa, nice one.

  23. How cool you got to see the whooping cranes! I've never seen them, but I bet the Herons that visit the pond here are among those hunkered down in your lake. They are such neat birds.

  24. Aw Lisa, that is too cool that you got to see those Whooping Cranes. I've been listening to some podcasts from the Operation Migration people (who fly the ultralights down to Florida with young whoopers that were raised in Wisconsin). I hope to get back to Wisconsin next summer and see some whooping cranes again.

  25. I find your birding adventures so interesting, Lisa, and the photos are wonderful.
    I loved your husband's shots of the 8 whooping cranes in a previous post.
    How lucky you were to run into Eva and learn all that fascinating info. I must check out the Christmas Bird Count to learn more about it.
    Looks like you have a wonderful birding area.

  26. A very interesting and informative post -- and with beautiful photos too. Thank you.

    I wonder if that micro-climate is the reason the whoopers are hanging around so long. It certainly seems to be getting chilly up your direction.


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