Lots of Sandhill Cranes on a VERY Windy Day

It was VERY windy this morning and warmer than it has been; around 47º when I got up.

I did some journaling before getting dressed and then headed out to the Cosumnes River Preserve for a walk.

The wind gusts were so strong, they sometimes almost bowled me over or pushed me along the trail. And figuring the wind into the temperature factor it felt FREEZING out there! I’d brought my dragon scarf with me, so I wrapped that around my head and face to help keep me warm. ((I have quite a few scarves that I interchange as the mood strikes me. Monica has knit me several pretty, ruffly ones; Marty gave me a knit “infinity scarf” – it’s a loop; and Sara had given me one that looks like an otter. My dragon scarf is red, orange and white and looks like a Chinese dragon.))

CLICK HERE for the photo album.

The buffeting wind also meant that there weren’t a whole lot of birding opportunities around. Al of the birds were hunkered down, trying to get out of the gusts. I saw a small kestrel struggling to fly against the wind. It gave up several times to catch its breath on a fence post.

The one species I saw quite a lot of today, though, was the Sandhill Crane. There were a couple of flocks gathered in the ponds near the nature center. I noticed that in these groups, the immature birds were in the center of the flock where they were more protected from the wind by the adults’ bodies.

I also noticed that one of the crane had a bright green band on one leg (above the “knee”) and a pale orange band on the other. I couldn’t get a clear shot of the bands, though, so I couldn’t read them.

There was a little Black Phoebe that, along one part of the trail, would pose on a twig to let me take photos, then fly on ahead of me, stop and pose for me when I caught up to it, then fly on ahead of me, stop and pose for me when I caught up to it, then fly on ahead of me, stop and pose for me when I caught up to it… I think it did that about five times! When I quit taking photos, it flew off. Hah!

Where the trail was shielded from the wind by the trees, walking was great. I loved the clean crisp air and sunshine. But in other spots, where the wind was gusting fiercely, I couldn’t stead the camera to take any descent photos. The wind kept knocking it around. I walked for about 3 hours and then headed home.

Me and the dragon scarf

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Mary K. Hanson is a breast cancer survivor who, at age 61, took coursework to become a Certified California Naturalist. The author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout”™ blog, Ms. Hanson has also written nature-based feature articles published in regional newspapers, authored over ten books, including her "Cool Stuff Along the American" series of guide books, and has had her photographs featured in books, articles, calendars, on the American River Parkway Foundation’s Instagram stream, and even the White House blog. This year Ms. Hanson is helping to launch and teach a new Certified California Naturalist course through Tuleyome, in partnership with the University of California and the Woodland Library, so members of the public can themselves become certified as naturalists in the state. All of the photos seen on her website were taken by Ms. Hanson herself (unless noted otherwise) with moderate- to low-end photographic equipment more easily affordable to the everyday nature enthusiast. She also occasionally leads photo-walks through the American River Bend Park for the public and is sometimes available for public speaking.