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So there is lots I didn't tell you about my crane encounter. I met a friendly woman walking three dogs on the trail in this forest off SR46 last Thursday morning. She was from the area and told me about Wilson's Landing just across the main highway. She described a nice view of the Wekiwa River, so I was all over that idea. What I didn't expect was to see Sandhill Cranes. Mind you, I had never seen these cool birds before. As it turns out they are a relative of the endangered Whooping Crane, sometimes acting as surrogate parents to baby WCs. They are somewhat endangered in their own right. In reality, during my encounter I had no idea what they were, and certainly nothing of their habits.

I pull into a lovely spot--I share the entire area with only what looked to be a grandfather and grandchild resting in a shelter with their bikes nearby. I saw the two long-legged birds in a field, immediately heading their way. Did I tell you I got some special shooting shoes? I hate traditional tennis shoes for everyday, and found these cute slip on things that keep my feet dry when I'm tramping by lakes etc.
Forgive me, I digress.

I begin my stalk and of all things they come towards me. As I draw closer they begin this bizarre dance with me shooting like mad--you see I was unsuccessful as the camera had no idea where to focus. I still wanted to post one of them so you get the idea that these birds may look graceful walking but are capable of wild, and crazy things!

I decide to leave them alone and head down to the riverfront. Although the river was quite wide there it wasn't that scenic because there was some crud floating on the top of a good bit of it. It wasn't trash--I really don't know how to describe it. By now I shared the park with about forty vultures that were on the rooftop of a house and all in the trees--they give me the creeps. You won't have to suffer through pictures of them I can assure you. I also saw a Pileated Woodpecker in a Magnolia tree. If you are unfamiliar with them they are at least twice the size of a normal one. No decent shots of the woodpecker were obtained.

I was getting tired, but decided one last try with the cranes. I found them near the tree line and started following them. In an effort to get them to dance again I started making weird noises. Mind you, I had no idea if it would work, but hey, why not? What did happen is that they started making weird noises themselves; I mean VERY LOUD noises. Since then I've read they can be heard miles away. I missed my chance, no repeat of the dancing display.

In my previous post I called them Mr. and Mrs. because apparently they mate for life; You will always see them in pairs. Of all things yesterday morning I decided to get creative going out to that other market. I took a different exit off the interstate and ended up at Disney's Wide World of Sports. As it was only 7ish in the morning there were no folks around except for one man I found sitting in his truck. I asked directions, and he pointed me where I needed to go. I'm on this winding, foggy road and what should I see, but two huge birds flying in for a landing. You are clever, that's right two Sand Hill Cranes landed in a field. Lovely in flight.
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