All Over

From even a mile away, Whitewater Draw is not just un-remarkable, it’s darned near un-visible in the surrounding desert. As we drive through un-changing, scrubby landscape, we trust Google Maps only because we’ve been to this nature reserve before. But we’re not the only ones who are having trouble spotting the reserve: A half-mile short of the target, the app throws up its hands.

Good luck, guys! It’s around here somewhere . . .

The turn off the dirt road onto a dirt trail is marked discreetly by one of those amazingly free-standing three-log arches/gates/entrances/whatever that in other places announce the name of the ranch. In the scant widening of the road that passes for a camping area, the permanent outhouses are out of paper; of the four temporary port-a-potties, one is on its back. Not an inspiring foyer for the site.

We continue to the parking area. As the engine noise dies, I open the door in anticipation. Yup, I can hear them even though I cannot see them: Some few thousands of sandhill cranes clucking, trilling, and flapping.

As we walk along the dikes bordering the pond, we finally see the birds. Like most miracles, I guess, it kinda sneaks up on you and then is all over you.

There are birds on the ground.

Honey? Are you OK?

There are birds all over the ground.

There are birds in the water.

There are birds all over the water.

There are birds in the air.

There are birds all over the air.

I’m happy with these photos, but I think the video does a better job of giving a sense of what it’s like to be there, with birds all over.


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12 Responses to All Over

  1. Excellent find Isabel (I wondered where the cranes had gone after leaving Cobden)

    I’ve never seen so many sandhills in one place! Do their wings make a racket when they all lift off like the snow geese do – they sound like a jet engine.

    I’ll have to add Whitewater Draw to our list should we head down that way again.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim R – Many thanks. It really is spectacular. Some folks come just in the late afternoon, hoping to catch the daily en masse lift-off.

  2. Sorry Isabel, I didn’t have the sound on when I played the video. I just viewed it now with the sound and I have my answer to my question above.

  3. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – wonder where all those cranes find something to eat??

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – In neighbourhood farmers’ fields. What they did before farmers is a mystery to me.

  4. Marilyn Smith says:

    What a sight to behold! Do you advise wearing a raincoat or taking an umbrella…?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Marilyn – 🙂 So far, no close encounters of that sort, although the thought does arise as hordes fly directly overhead.

  5. Mary Gibson says:


    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Mary – 🙂 I know, right? Now imagine the Nebraska staging area with 30 or 40 times that number. Hard to see where they would all stand.

  6. barbara carlson says:

    Apparently, they are very good eatin’ — taste like steak.

    Video is hilarious! And one snowgoose… It’s like the one seagull that hangs around with the ducks and geese in and around our condo moat/swimming pool island.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – It’s hard for me to imagine eating them, but I’ve never really been hungry so that might explain it. As for the lone snow goose, I didn’t even see him/her in the mass of cranes until I happened to select that image for a closing photo.

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