By David Horst firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's something I'm thankful for.
It has been nearly a month since we've seen the pair of sandhill cranes that were regular morning visitors all summer. I had contented myself that we would have to deal with the quiet, unremarkable field until spring.
Then last Saturday we heard that prehistoric call from high above Sandhill Lama Farm. A dozen cranes did a noisy fly-by. It happened again Sunday.
They hadn't abandoned us just yet.
On a hunch, I checked one of my regular crane-watching areas south of Fremont.
I found a roadside drainage ditch lined with sandhills, gobbling down all they could hold for the long flight ahead. A mile down the road, 100 or so more were doing the same.
While the pairs of these large birds are fairly solitary during the summer months, they yard up in large numbers before heading south together late in fall -- real late this year.
Crex Meadows Wildlife Area north of U.S. 8 on the Minnesota border reports thousands of Sandhills still yarded up there. Necedah Wildlife Area near Coloma is another big staging site, as is the tiny Waushara County community of Borth.
South of Fremont, the birds were right up to the edge of the highway. Not wanting to spook them, I rolled by slowly with windows open and camera firing.
It is a moment I am thankful for, and I'll be thankful when the hay field is alive with prehistoric squawking again in spring.