I’m on a big push right now to finish up my Trinidad and Tobago plates, along with other projects enough to cause sleep deprivation. Much, much more to do, but it’s time for a short break and a quick post which will last as long as it takes me to eat a sliced apple.
Last weekend was a trip up north to Nebraskaland to visit family and give ourselves the gift of one day on the Platte River for one of nature’s great wildlife spectacles. Sandhill cranes foraged in the stubble during the day and we drove backroads bordering them, pulling over to watch the flocks bend to pick up dried kernals and whatnot they were gleaning from the black wet soil.
Their calls- a crooning purr- were constant and tender. Birds would fly in and croon as they landed like hang-gliders, gawky legs back and necks stuck forward. The cranes on the ground would look up and purr back. They were spooky birds: our presence put them on alert, even inside the car. Getting out meant the flock would rise and fly away. We were quiet as could be.
The big show started at dusk. We joined a group with binoculars and scopes and huge cameras standing on a bridge over the river. The cranes were descending in flocks and squadrons on either side of the bridge, settling into cold water up to their ankles (the Platte is wide and shallow), jousting for good positions for the night. Safety in numbers is the Sandhill’s’s motto. The sun was setting. The crooning swelled to a roar as tens of thousands of cranes bunched together; perhaps a hundred thousand cranes or more. Their numbers increased as the sky darkened. We stayed until we couldn’t see and were getting cold. The cranes still arrived. The sky was almost dark but their airborne silhouettes were visible above us, crooning and purring against the twilight until the stars came out.
I’m done with my apple.