Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Beauty of Haehnle Sanctuary...before the cranes are even there!

Birding at the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary
For the past four or five months I've been doing all my birding by myself, so I was really happy when Rick was able to sneak away from hockey and join me on my hunt for Sandhill Cranes at the Haehnle Sanctuary. We grabbed the wrong address from the website, so Jill the GPS Girl ended up leading us to the sanctuary chairman's house! We didn't bother getting out... Rick immediately got his iPhone out and pulled up the sanctuary's website, found the directions, and then used the map/GPS function on the iPhone to piece together a route to the sanctuary. YEAH! for the iPhone and for Rick's navigational skills. If he weren't with me, I doubt I would have found Haehnle. Driving to the wrong place wasn't all bad though, because if we had driven straight to the sanctuary, we wouldn't have seen those beautiful Sandhill Cranes out in the field from yesterday's post--so there's always a reason for everything.

When I saw this sign I got so excited! Isn't it cool?
I love those binoculars!

When you leave the parking area, you walk through a small wooded gateway that leads to an observation hill. There, laid out in front of you, is an expansive valley of color made even more dramatic by the sweeping cloud formations. As shadows cast by the clouds moved across the open wetland, colors would shift, first greens and yellows bursting, then blues as the sun lit up the water. In the late afternoon glow, the view was almost shocking it was so beautiful. A definite nip was in the air adding to the energy and excitement that seemed to be a natural component of the area.

When we first walked up, two Marsh Hawks (Northern Harriers)
were hunting in the scrubby trees. They were beautiful.
While driving back to the hockey rink, a third swept
past our car, surprising us. Even though the encounter
only lasted a second, it stuck with me. I had never
been that close to those gorgeous brown feathers...

...the water is rimmed by forest, shrubby fields and
a fairly new 35-acre meadow. We fought rain on and
off all day, but that was okay...the dark heavy cloud
formations made the view all the more gorgeous!

In the late afternoon sun, the whole field was lit in harvest
orange and yellow. I think we arrived at the perfect time.

The first two Sandhill Cranes come in for the evening.
We heard them before we saw them. I loved
listening to that incredible bugling sound...

The sun continued to lighten and darken the clouds,
creating a beautiful backdrop for the cranes as they returned
to the safety of the wet valley put aside just for them.

In the autumn, when you arrive in the evening to watch the Sandhill Cranes come in, you will find greeters there to answer questions or fill you in on the area's history. In addition, they have spotting scopes set up to give you a better look at other waterfowl on the lakes and ponds. While we were there we met Stu and Helena, who are very dedicated volunteers, taking part in supporting the sanctuary for over 30 years! Hi Stu and Helena...we really enjoyed meeting you! We will be back one of these days. Hope to see you there again. Stu just happens to be the Webmaster of the Haehnle site and Helena is his wife, so we really learned a lot. Click here to stop by the site for more information on the sanctuary and Sandhill Cranes.

27 comments:

Elaine said...

That looks like a wonderful sanctuary. I am discovering that there are a lot of places where you can see the sandhill cranes. They are really an exciting bird to see and hear. I hope you got to hear a lot of them calling at one time. They make so much noise!

Chris said...

HI Kelly,
Yes this place looks like a very nice place to visit even if the crane are not there, but I still guess it is better to see the crane in there :-)
And I can see that you did not find the sanctuary so easily. I finally wonder if these stories around birding and finding species and places are not the best ones, even if when it happens it is not that funny. Because finally, these are the ones you will remember best!

Sue said...

I've got the site bookmarked-thanks, Kelly for always finding the hidden "gems". Hope the rest of your travels are as wonderful!

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

The photos look beautiful. It surely is a nice place for a lot of wildlife.

Laure Ferlita said...

Anytime we hear the "bugling," and you do hear it LONG before you see any birds, we stop and wait to see the birds. It's almost an unconscious moment - they're just so captivating you can't help it!

Some of the images in today's post are beautiful as paintings, Nature showing off, and your talent capturing it! Well done!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Simply stunning photos! I especially love the birds and clouds and dramatic sky. Definitely a place worth visiting.

Krista Meister said...

Wow, Kelly, thanks for showing me some of our own state's birds that I never knew about. Right in our own backyard, per se. I'll let you know if they talk about the sandhill cranes on our field trip to the nature center in a few weeks. Wonderful pictures by the way!

Jayne said...

What a beautiful place Kelly! How fun to see the cranes coming in and to be able to talk to people with such knowledge to share.

Chris Petrak said...

color constrasts & clouds make these very memorable photos

Connie said...

I love my iphone too Kelly.

I hope someday I have the opportunity to visit this sanctuary. Your photos make it look so beautiful,

Bill S. said...

Sounds a lot like the Camas National Wildlife Refuge near here. One of my favorite places on earth!!!!

Allison said...

Gorgeous, breathtaking views across that plain. The mountains are so amazing! You need one of those binocular signs--someone should start making them in ovals for car stickers like the Martha's Vineyard ones. Everyone would know who the birders are!

Montanagirl said...

Kelly, your scenery shots are just stunning. And the Sandhills against the cloud formations are gorgeous as well. I wish we had all those sanctuaries within driving distance! Who knows, maybe someday we'll get there.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh Kelly, what a neat place. Good for iPhone and GPS for helping you find it. I'll bet you go back as often as you can! That is a gorgeous place --even without the sandhill cranes. Glad you met Stu and Helena.

Hugs,
Betsy

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

That is a spectacular place Kelly. I love the colors in that field. This is one crane we do not have here and I do love the red markings.

Warren Baker said...

What a great place! What great scenery! You must be thrilled to bits to be able to visit it.

''there is always a reason for everything'' you're right, I often think this as i stumble on something accidentally. :-)

holdingmoments said...

Beautiful shots Kelly. What an amazing place that looks. I bet it is so rich in wildlife.

Heather said...

What beautiful scenery! The colors are so rich and alive! I'm glad Rick was able to go with you. Your story about ending up in the wrong place at first is funny. Glad you got where you needed to be, and had a wonderful time along the way.

The Early Birder said...

The stage is set; such a colourful backdrop; just waiting for the stars of the show to arrive. FAB

Tina said...

Gorgeous photos...and all those fall colors just makes reading your blog even more enjoyable. I love your evening shots of those cranes flying..what a sight..they are soooo big! I think I have only seen them on the ground ..an amazing site to see them fly!

Rob Ripma said...

Wow, what a beautiful place! I will have to visit there sometime.

It was so much fun looking for the Nelson's and LeConte's. If you want to find some in Cincinnati you should check Shaker Wetlands at Miami Whitewater. It's getting a little late but some might still be around!

ShySongbird said...

It looks like a lovely place to visit Kelly, wonderful, rich autumnal colours!

Mary said...

Sounds like a wonderful place and those photos are so pretty! Glad you were able to find it and now you know where it is, so it will be easier next time! I've never seen a sandhill crane except in a zoo. How great for you to find them. I assume the size binoculars on the sign is an indication that you will need BIG ones! LOL

Deb said...

What a gorgeous sanctuary Kelly! You captured the spot beautifully.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Kelly, that looks beautiful. I love the dramatic sky as a backdrop for your gorgeous photos.

Kelly said...

....thanks, everyone....if you're within driving distance.....go for it!! I'm going to try to get up there the first week in November. I hope, hope, hope we can clear our schedule. Thank goodness Michigan has done such a good job preserving some land for these beauties. Here are the population trends from the Haehnle site:
1931 survey of southern Michigan – 17 pairs
1986 survey Lower Peninsula – 630 pairs, over 200 pairs in Jackson County, and about 4,000 cranes statewide
2002 Great Lakes population is estimated to exceed 36,000 cranes, 10,000 in Michigan
(So you can see they've made a lot of progress since 1931!)

dAwN said...

Wow..Iphone saves the day..but yeah good thing you went the wrong way at first...great sightings!