Wintering Sandhills (12 photos)

Tall yet graceful, social yet independent, Sandhill Cranes have long fascinated people.

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Sandhills are named for their breeding grounds on the Nebraska prairie, which bleeds into Sandhill Region of the state. Huge flocks migrate to winter in such places as Florida, Texas and Mexico.

Sandhill 4Sandhill 3Some 10,000 Sandhills migrate to southeastern Arizona for the winter. These birds were photographed at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, near Wilcox, AZ.

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The sight of thousands upon thousands of Sandhill taking flight is awesome. Yet that’s not what was most memorable about the cranes. My friend Tom and I parked a good half mile from the wetlands where we hoped the Sandhills were congregated. As we hiked toward the water, we started to hear an unfamiliar sound. Before long the loud, rolling, raucous sound stopped us in our tracks. It was the cranes.

Sandhill 10Sandhill 11Sandhill 12The cranes left the wetlands in small groups, heading to feed before nightfall.

Abandoned Discovery (Nine Photos)

During a recent weekend hike I took an unfamiliar trail at John Bryan State Park in western OH. I ran across the below abandoned site, although at first glance it felt more like a ruin.  I’m certain I could learn about this site through research, but right now prefer the sense of mystery. Photos taken with a iPhone 6.

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False Spring (Three Photos)

The unseasonably warm February from the Midwest through the Great Plains created some  movement among birds. One Saturday afternoon we had these backyard visitors…eastern-bluebirdSome Eastern Bluebirds winter in Ohio, but not near our place. This day the bluebirds appeared, searching high and low for insects.

american-robinA pair of American Robins left the shelter of the woods to check for worms and larvae.

red-winged-blakbirdIn the past decade, this is the earliest we have seen a Red-winged Blackbird in our yard.