Monday, April 13, 2015

Sandhill Cranes over the Qu'Appelle Valley

Part of a flock of Sandhill Cranes over the Qu'Appelle Valley  © SB 
We heard their rattling bugle calls looked up to see dozens of Sandhill Cranes flying over Saskatchewan's Qu'Appelle Valley.

They wheeled and turned, disappeared from sight, returned to merge with another group, then flew over one final hilltop and were gone.

At least, gone from sight. Their loud calls continued for a long time after, and I sat on the hill and listened.

It's the first time I've seen so many, and was glad we had binoculars and a long camera lens to get a closer view and identify this clearly non-goose, non-heron, non-pelican flock. Long necks extended, wings wide and dark legs trailing... So graceful, so beautiful — and so loud!

I first saw Sandhill Cranes in fields at the north end of Last Mountain Lake, near the bird sanctuary. Those were closer, the adults' rusty heads easy to see. That flock had stopped to feed on their way south in fall; today's were on their migration route back to the north.

Sandhill Cranes near Lost Mountain Lake ©SB
Sandhill Cranes in flight near Lost Mountain Lake ©SB
Sandhill Cranes feeding near Lost Mountain Lake ©SB
Sandhill Cranes flying over the Qu'Appelle Valley ©SB

 A ragged V of Sandhill Cranes breaks off from the main flock to circle, then return. © SB

What are these? Sandhill Cranes
Location: #1, 5 & 6: Qu'Appelle Valley, near Regina; #2, 3 and 4: North end of Lost Mountain Lake. Saskatchewan, Canada 
Photo dates: #2, 3 &4: October 1, 2012; #1, 5 & 6: April 12, 2015. 


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