Monday, October 11, 2010


I am stepping away from the Ontario posts to get into real time. I will finish Ontario at some point, but I wanted to share with you some images from Cranefest, an annual event held at the Audubon Society's Baker Sanctuary near Bellevue, Michigan. The sanctuary encompasses Big Marsh Lake, where upwards of 9,000 Sandhill cranes gather before they begin their migration.

It's a wonderful event, with 18 artists, several commercial vendors including some selling native plants and birdseed, a book sale, silent auction and, of course, the cranes.

Here's a look at part of the marsh visible from the festival area.

This Peregrine falcon is part of a local group's collection of raptors. I believe they actually do falconry with their birds. Gorgeous creature.

Since we drag our old RV to many of our shows, we camped Saturday night in their parking lot. That enabled us to get up early and go down to one of the viewing areas to watch the cranes take flight. When we arrived they were just beginning to stir and stretch their wings. The birds in the foreground are just a fraction of the birds in the marsh.

We had been hoping for a mass exodus, but they took to the air in dribs and drabs, starting long before the sun rose.

They took the the air in pairs,

or in groups of 20 or more. The morning air reverberated with their calls.

I counted over 40 in this shot. I spent over an hour there, watching the cranes take off over the misty waters of the marsh. I hope some day to get to the Platte River in Nebraska, where as many as 100,000 cranes gather at a stopover point along their migration route. But for now, the Baker Sanctuary suits me just fine.

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