I turned on a side road to head up to another willow-filled meadow where I wanted to fly my little copter for an overhead view. The snow was thicker up here, a hundred metres or so higher in elevation than the valley I’d just left. Small spring-fed creeks cut dark, serpentine shoes through the white. The red of the willows glowed.
I flew out over the meadow, watching the video feed on my phone as the little copter flew along. It didn’t take long for the buzz of the propellers to get swallowed up by the sound-deadening effect of all the snow on the ground and soon all I could were geese honking, robins singing - hundreds more of them here, just as skittish - and mallards quacking.
But with them was another sound, a soft churring.. Quickly, I brought the copter back. I’d just heard sandhill cranes.
I packed up and headed toward the source of the sound, a pond just over the hill. And there they were, a pair of red-crowned, sandy-feathered, metre-and-a-half tall birds. Who flew away almost immediately. I managed to get one pretty bad picture before they disappeared. But I’ll know where to look next time.