Sand Hill Cranes at Nisqually

Although it’s been an unusually wet April, I still have many photographs I haven’t had time to collate, edit, and polish up enough to post here. For instance, these photos came from my visit to the Nisqually national wildlife refuge in the second week of April.

The day began with a rare sighting of Sandhill Cranes, a bird I’ve only seen a few times and have never seen in Nisqually.

Sandhill Cranes

Unfortunately, they were walking away from the gathered photographers by the time I got there, so these shots were taken at a considerable distance.

Sandhill Cranes

I find it impossible not to be impressed by their sheer size, but they’re not really a favorite photographic subject.

I would probably enjoy getting a great shot of a green winged teal as much as I would a great shot of a sandhill crane.

Green-Winged Teal

For me, the highlight of the day actually came just as I was leaving and flushed an American bittern.

American Bittern in flight

I ended up spending more time taking photographs of this commonly-seen bird than I did of the much rarer sandhill cranes. I always enjoy watching a bittern “hide” when it knows it has been spotted.

American Bittern

I even enjoyed watching it stalk its prey once it was convinced that I didn’t present any real threat.

American Bittern

I still get a “thrill” when I see a bird for the first time, but I get the most pleasure from observing and photographing birds that I’ve gotten to know. Perhaps that is why I’ve never really been tempted by birding trips to exotic locales.

5 thoughts on “Sand Hill Cranes at Nisqually”

  1. I’d love to see a bittern. A crane, too. The nearest thing we have to them here are herons.

    Funnily enough, I’ve always thought of herons as shy. They flap off as soon as I see them (unless I’m swimming up to my chin in a river at the time). However, I was talking the other week to someone who knows a semi-tame one which comes and stands by his back door when it wants food putting out!

  2. I’ve never seen the Sandhill Crane…delighted to see it I used Leopold’s fine book as a text 35 years ago…There are many lyrical passages in it. Here’s one: “On motionless wing they emerge from the lifting mists, sweep a final arc of sky, and settle in clangorous descending spirals to their feeding grounds. A new day has begun on the crane marsh.”
    It’s hard to overstate the importance of that book, still a landmark text in the effort to restore our reverence for wetlands. You’re helping to extend that idea.

    1. As I mentioned, I have finished reading Leopold’s book.

      The problem is that I like it so much I don’t know how to limit my remarks to anything manageable.

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