Nature clicks #19 - Sandhill Cranes and Pied-billed Grebe

Pair of Sandhill Cranes
Nikon D200, SIGMA 50-500


I knew I wanted to go back to the Green Island Wetlands as soon as possible and try to see "my" Sandhill Crane again. And last Saturday it turned out even better. I discovered two pairs this time. They were searching for food at different places but not far from each other. The distance to them was quite big. Between the dam with the gravel road and the cranes laid a wide trench, filled with water. No chance for getting closer to the birds. In order to get the picture above I had to use the maximum focal length of 500 mm. The picture is even cropped quite a bit. The downside is that the Sigma 50-500 is a little soft at maximum focal length. The sharpness the lens can provide is much better at around 400 mm. Even if I could, I would not cross this natural barrier between the birds and the road. The last thing I want to do is disturbing these beautiful birds. I rather don't get the picture than disturbing an animal, especially close to breeding season.

After several hours of watching the Sandhill Cranes I went south to the little town of Sabula again. I didn't really get any good photo opportunity this time but run into my new friend Dave Updegraff. I know Dave since last year's Worldwide Photowalk event, that he led in the city of Dubuque, Iowa. He was after some Bald Eagles, but because the ice was almost gone they were too far away for an easy picture. We discussed our future photography projects and had of course some gear talk. We will hopefully going out soon together for a wildlife shooting.


Pied-billed Grebe
Nikon D200, SIGMA 50-500


I went back to Green Island but it was much quieter than in the morning. I saw the cranes again but this time even further away. Finally all four took off together and I enjoyed seeing them in flight.

On my way out I took a few shots of a little Grebe swimming in a trench below the dam. It was a Pied-billed Grebe. This little bird is widespread across North America but it was new for me. After each shot I had to reposition because the grebe dived into the muddy water and showed up at a different location. Lots of fun...