Saturday, June 20, 2015

Field Notes 19 June 2015: Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill cranes sound so ancient and primeval to me. And no wonder - the oldest fossil record for sandhill cranes is from 2.5 million years ago (found in Florida).   I was able to watch this pair up close for quite awhile until the mosquitoes got the better of me. You'll get the sound in the video but the I couldn't zoom in.  No doubt they had a passel of chicks nearby.

This was a great day for bird watching - I also saw pelicans, a prairie falcon, nighthawks, etc...

I love these rivers out on the plains.  You feel like you have the whole world to yourself.  And at night, the stars feel close enough to touch. 

This day couldn't be more different than my last visit to the Sweetwater area (see Blood, Sweat and Cowshit).  It was sunny and the road had dried out enough so that I didn't have to worry about getting stuck.

Years ago this ranch used to be part of the Ellis Ranch.  Lots of history here as it's on the Mormon and Oregon Trails and where St. Mary's Station was located.  The Pony Express operated here from 1861-1862.

Anyone know what is this?  It was literally out in the middle of nowhere.  There were stones nearby that looked like the remnant of an old homestead.  And a spring that fed a good-sized stream, a suprise in the middle of the prairie.  There were a few pairs of nesting killdeer and it was rich with other birds.  Something I wouldn't have found if I'd been in my truck - it pays to be on foot or on two wheels.

Our horses Griz and Arizona.  This photo is from last year when I had the bright idea of covering the ranch by horseback.  But there's no "express" with our ponies.  I had a tiny glimpse into what life was like for those tough pioneers so long ago.  The scenery inched by and it started snowing halfway into the ride - tiny hard pellets that stung our faces and hands.  But there's lots of time for contemplation on the back of a horse. 
"The song of the river ends not at her banks, but in the hearts of those who have loved her."
Buffalo Joe