Do you remember ABBA? The movie and stage play “Mamma Mia” was built around their stirring music. The melodies and rhythm of their music stirred the souls of people around the world and made us all better and happy in the way that seemingly only their music could do. “Thank You For The Music” was a signature song that celebrated the gift of music to them as performers, and brought us as listeners to a moment of reverent recognition of the true value of music in our lives. I still get a lump in my throat when I hear that song.
There is another sound reverberating across our marsh right now that gives me the same feeling I experience with ABBA. The Sandhill Cranes are migrating. I have been playing golf in the afternoons with my friend Don Carter. He is kind enough to tolerate my skill level and we enjoy walking 9 holes and carrying our clubs in the quiet of late afternoon. We stop and salute with silent admiration the calls of the cranes as they travel so high in the sky that it is actually difficult to see them. These magnificent birds with their cheerful squawking trill of a call stop the show when they glide almost effortlessly across the sky in perfect formations. There are lots of them traveling right now, and if yoga or a glass of wine doesn’t soothe your soul-- then go listen to the cranes. They demand peaceful attention.
If you want a boisterous, noisy, busy visit with them, then you should go up to the Platte River in Nebraska. About 450,000 birds migrate through the sandhills which accounts for their name. Mated pairs call in unison and there is a lot of hopping around and displays as birds matriculate through the mating process. It is a photographers dream. My first singular photographic expedition was with Dan Soeken when we went to Bosque Del Apache wildlife area in New Mexico for a course with Steve Traudt from Grand Junction Colo. The main birds there were Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. I got hooked pretty quick and am always grateful to those guys for starting me in this direction.
These cranes are moving quickly. There is not a lot of time left to go hear and see them. If you go down toward Quivira Refuge, you can see them feeding in those big fields down there. It is well worth the trip and these elegant birds have a very special place in the hearts and minds of birders and photographers. Give them a shot!