A Surprise at Jordanelle Wetlands, Utah!
It was evening as we drove to the Jordanelle Wetlands, near Park City, Utah. We looked out for wildlife as we always do. On this night we saw what we were not expecting to see. Sandhill Cranes! It was funny as I told my husband, who was driving, "Watch out! Don't hit the...cranes in the road." This first image is blurry because like I said, we were not expecting to see cranes in the road and my auto focus honed in behind them as I tried to shoot past my husband and truck mirror. I wanted to show this anyway because it shows how close they really were. I guess we shouldn't have been so surprised to see them since we were in their type of habitat, but it was still shocking to see them crossing the road.
The cranes were not bothered by how close we were as I continued to take pictures of them. They were on their way to bed down for the night, and had crossed the road to do so, so I guess they were really focused. (or really used to people, since it's a popular place to walk.
I got out of the truck to get a better view, but stayed behind and shot from near the tailgate. I didn't want to scare them. They didn't seem to mind my presence at all. After walking several feet, they looked at the fence and seemed to be getting ready to fly.
Yep! In mere moments, each one took its turn flying over the fence into the wetlands area for a safe place to sleep for the night. (Fun fact: They sleep standing up in shallow water.) It was so exciting! This was by far the closest I've been to a Sandhill Crane in the wild. What a thrill to watch these beautiful and amazing birds! Below is the male bird as he began his landing.
This is one of the females as she flew over the fence. So pretty! Research I did says that Sandhill Cranes migrate south for the winter, so I'm assuming these guys were either passing through or nested here and haven't begun their migration yet. There were only three of them.
It was getting darker so my ISO was pretty high and the images are kind of grainy and not as sharp as I would have liked, but it all happened so fast. This was worsened by the fact that I have a new camera and several of the settings and buttons are new and/or in different places than I'm used to. It's amazing how muscle memory works in the field, when you see that wildlife and your blood starts pumping and you kind of go on auto pilot and your hands tend to do what needs to be done. That didn't happen this time. I fumbled around and was happy to get any half-way decent images at all. Well, lots more practice shooting with the new camera and my muscles will adapt to the new buttons and placements.
Have you seen sandhill cranes in the wild? I'd love to hear about your experience!
If you are a photographer, can you relate to my frustration of having a new camera and all of the changes each time you upgrade?
IF you are from this area, please let me know about the Sandhill Cranes. Are they always in the area? Did we just catch them passing through during migration?
Let me know in the comments below.
Keywords: autumn, birding, birds, fall, images, Jordanelle Wetlands, nature, Park City, Prove River Restoration Project, Sandhill Cranes, Utah, wetlands, wildlife
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