Tuesday, February 21, 2017

courting cranes

I was hoping to spend some time at Tiscornia this morning, but steady light rain made driving cornfields more appealing (we ain't in Panama anymore!).  There were scattered groups of Canadas in a lot of places, but 2 roadside cranes drew the eye.  Initially they were just standing there, but soon they started dancing about.

I'm going to assume it's the male initiating the dance.  He stretched and strode over with his neck stretched up, bill pointed down, and wings held loosely behind his back.
It then proceeded to stretch at attention and flash its wings back and forth a few times.

You can see how these big birds don't get all their flight feathers molted in one season.  The outer two primaries are a couple years old, the next 3 fresh this spring, and the remaining 5 about a year old I suspect.

The (potential?) mate then reciprocated the wing flashing.
She (?) has molted fewer of the outer primaries and still has a few rust-stained wing coverts.

They followed that up by jumping some and dashing about flicking water with their bills.  I was enough taken aback by the scene that I couldn't decide which to track with the camera and whether to switch to video and just watched instead.

Towards the end I took a couple of the dash-about phase, though missed the focus.
Unfortunately there was no encore; they ran ostrich-like up to drier ground and resumed preening.

A flooded field on Warren Woods road held a large disparate flock of White-fronts.  They were hard to count in the stubble.
 Eventually most flushed, this next shot is the biggest group.  There were some other sub-flocks out of the frame though.

Finally a pre-dawn Glaucous Gull shot from Tiscornia last week.
I should probably make more of an effort to play around with the early light.

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