Greater Sandhill Cranes Jasper-pulaski wildlife park

I finally made it over to north-central Indiana this fall (2016) to visit the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife area. Each year the Greater Sandhill Cranes stop-over on there way south for the Winter. These Cranes summer in northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and southern Canada and migrate to the southeastern states to winter. We have three types of Cranes in the US - the Greater and Lesser Sandhill and the Whooping Cranes. As you probably know the Whooping Cranes are on the endangered list. There was one spotted in the area when I was there but I was not among the fortunate ones to see it. The Lesser Sandhill Cranes are further West (large numbers around the Platte River in Nebraska) and are more numerous and smaller than these Cranes.

Coming Home!
Preparing for the night. The Cranes spend most of the daylight hours in the surrounding fields in small groups eating and getting in shape for their long trip south. They return to Jasper-Pulaski (two counties in Indiana that share the Park) before sunset to spend the night in large groups and depart just after daybreak to go forage.
I enjoyed a beautiful sunset as the Cranes made their way back to the safety of the Park.
I enjoy watching them come in for a landing. If they have too much altitude they flip back-and-forth sideways to lose altitude. Then they lower those long legs like flaps on an airplane to slow their speed. They are of course talking the whole time to the Cranes on the ground.
Perfect landings...
This nice Whitetail Buck kept his eye on us as he pursued Does. Take note of his swollen neck, a sure sign rut season is here.
The next morning I was just so excited I got up a 4am and started my journey to the area - well before daybreak. Lots of ground-fog and I would have been lost without my trusty iPhone GPS guidance - works even out in the boonies. Needless to say I was the first, and only, one there. Had to walk a ways through a little timber carrying two cameras, tripod, and a couple of big lenses. Plus my night vision saving yellow flashlight. Like most hobbies I've ever had, there is no limit to the little things you just absolutely have to have! I could hear the Cranes gearing up for their morning concert long before I could see them. As you can see from the above photo the early morning fog was pretty heavy but as it burned off you could see more and more birds. The State estimated 8,000 the week I was there - a few less in my opinion but still a wonderful sight.

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