Monday, March 12, 2012

A Short Rest for North Bound Sand Hill Cranes

March 10, 2012 I was driving, near the Little Calumet River in Gary, Indiana when I notice a group of Sand Hill Cranes on a landing approach into a marsh south of the river.

Sand Hill Cranes Landing in Marsh
I pulled over and followed the river bank a short ways and found a large group of Sand Hill Cranes resting in a wetland along the banks of the Little Calumet River.
100's of  Sand Hill Cranes 
The Sand Hill Cranes are on their spring migration.
Sand Hill Cranes resting in Little Calumet River Marsh
My presents disturbed some of them, so I left them in peace.
Sand Hill Cranes taking flight
(Left Click any Photo to See Slide Show) 

Migratory Waterfowl Resting At Ranger's Marsh

March 6, 2012 finds me at the marsh again for a little fresh air and exercise. The deer trails lead me across the tall grass prairie, the dead grass and phragmities runners make it a tough walk. Every step is a potential trip and near fall. Conditions are ripe for a wildfire.

This marsh has been restored after being used for agriculture. Drainage ditches section the marsh at about half mile intervals. I set up at the second section of the marsh. Here the marsh is a shallow mud flat, that dries during the summer. A flock of Canada Geese fly over, looking for a place to land.  

Migratory Canada Geese
Canada Geese about to land

The shallow mud flat provides food and a resting place for the migratory waterfowl during their spring and fall migration. At this time the waterfowl that are using the marsh are Mallard and Shoveler Ducks, Canada Geese and Merganser.

Cupping Mallard Duck
Behind me in the first section of the marsh, I can hear feeding chuckles and quacks of  Mallard Ducks.  Being careful not to trip and fall on my face, I creep as quietly as possible to get as close as I can to the sitting ducks. Slowly I creep through the tall dry grass, pausing often and picking my next step.   

Mallard Ducks Landing
Not knowing how many ducks are in front of me or when they will spook, I have no choice but to shoot through the grass and hope for a decent photo or two.

Mallard Ducks Through the Grass

At about twenty feet from the waters edge I'm spotted. The first group flushes and takes to the wind.

Hen Mallard Duck

And then another group take to flight.

Mallard Ducks

Now I'm in awe of the number of ducks I've stumbled upon in this little corner of marsh.

Mallard Ducks, Full Moon and Phragmites Grass

Two Drake and a Hen Mallard 

Mallards in the Wind

Mallards Behind the Phragmites

Once they got some air beneath them, the ducks formed a loose flock.

Ducks Grouping into a Flock

The flock is composed of Mallard and Shoveler Ducks.

Had no idea I would jump so many ducks at this time.

Mallard Pair and Full Moon

This was a good walk and it ended with wonderful Full Moon in the east and a dazzling Sunset in the west.

Sunset at Ranger's Marsh

( Left Click any photo to go to the Slide Show)