Birding Event of Decade

Without a Doubt Yesterday was MY Birding Event of this Decade!

Sunny, yet cold for Northern Alabama. I headed out on a snow packed trail to the Observation Blind at Wheeler Wildlife National Refuge, along the Tennessee River.

We had more than 8 inches of snow earlier this week, another unusual event, and lots of ice. So I wanted to see how the migrating waterfowl were getting along on their icy ponds. Short on time, I only had my compact Bushnell binoculars with me.

Amazing beyond belief.

I heard them in flight and saw so many of them in the distance that they looked like a swarm of mayflies in the spring mating season!

You HAD to hear them. And as Aldo Leopold said, once you hear them, you hear no other birds in the same way. These are the lead birds in the orchestra.

SANDHILL CRANES  by the thousands!

Refuge manager said there were more than 8000 migrating through right now and they stopped here at Wheeler. There are 12 Whooping Cranes reported to be in the migrating flock.  So with THAT many birds, not to mention some 45000 ducks! And geese I did not get a count of, it was a raucous, hilarious, joyous search for “where’s Waldo?”

The excitement was contagious and the sun was low in the sky so the photographers were almost as numerous! Well, not that many!

More on Sand Hill Cranes to follow and I will explain why I am still excited about seeing and hearing and experiencing so many of them all at once.

Don’t Have a Clue? Wonder what they are? Watch for the next post with more details. Meanwhile, browse this collection of information. I love them. It was a glorious day.

2 Responses to Birding Event of Decade

  1. Sounds like you had a great break with the Cranes, and that they brought you back to nature. It is kind of fun, when there are a large group of birds to watch. I sometimes find a group of 12 of the same birds, but if they are big, like a pack of wild turkeys, it can be very intimidating!

  2. I agree, Cheryl. Turkeys often are on the ground and nearby. I am rarely intimidated by big birds, only by territorial males! Been chased by ganders! and beaned on the head by redwing blackbirds! Both are memorable tales, but not ones I’d want to repeat! The Sand Hill Cranes were either airborne overhead, where my biggest risk was to be looking UP during a poop session, or they were about 50- 100 yards away. The sheer volume was astounding. I always knew they were in their home place and I was the guest. I like it that way. Thanks for your comments.

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