Sandhill Crane Above Flying Hat, March 14, 2010 (click to enlarge)
I’m sitting with Brenda out on the back porch thirty minutes ago and I hear the tuk-tuk of the Sandhill Crane. I get the binoculars and camera, but I cannot see them in the sky. The second flock comes by within five minutes and I snap the pictures above.
The Sandhill are flying fast with a east-southeast wind at their tails. I estimate their ground speed may be 75-100 m.p.h. I have to work fast.
I took pictures of a third large flock and then three stragglers (teenagers, most likely, sleeping late) soaring fast. See the two pictures below.
Second Flock Sandhill Crane Above Flying Hat, March 14, 2010 (click to enlarge)
Three Sandhill Crane Above Flying Hat, March 14, 2010 (click to enlarge)
Yesterday at about 5:45 p.m., as I returned from the pasture, I heard the Sandhill Crane, tuk-tuk–tuk-tuk, and looked south towards Hannibal, Texas, the direction I had seen flocks earlier this week. I saw no flocks to the south. Catching the sound again, I looked east towards the Rust Ranch (whose horse barn repeats my microwave for internet service) and saw a huge, migratory, single congregation of Sandhill Crane heading north, three miles away, 1,500 feet a.g.l. over the Rust Ranch barns.
By my quick and dirty count, I estimated the northing cranes at about 350-500 in number. My camera was back at the house, so I could not get there in time to snap a picture of this huge flock.
I may have this wrong, but I discerned that in this large flock of 350+, only, say, ten cranes calling, tuk-tuk. I would have thought more vocalizations from such a large group. But no. It was the largest flock I have seen in flight. I have heard large flocks on the ground in the Muleshoe, Texas, marshes and their murmurs are quite numerous before daylight. Beautiful, peaceful chorus.
Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) Flying North, Hannibal, Texas, February 28, 2010 (click to enlarge)
Yesterday, February 28, 2010, as I came back from feeding the horses at 5:50 p.m., I heard the tuk-tuk–tuk-tuk–tuk-tuk of the Sandhill Crane overhead. The cranes were heading north, about 1,500 feet above ground level. I first saw them over Hannibal, Texas, six miles to the south of us, and after I got the camera and starting taking pictures, they had flown over the ranch and were two or three miles away to the north. They were circling and moving north at the same time. Thirty minutes later, another flock of cranes, this group shaped in a V configuration, were flying faster in the same direction. Their tuk-tuk calls were less frequent. I suppose they were intent on catching up with the crowd ahead of them who had found, most likely, a good marsh to settle down for the night. Preferring flight than chat, they sped quietly into dusk.