As we drove into the park, we saw large numbers of Snow Geese circling the Visitor Center as well as a large, dark-colored hawk that I did not identify ... a very auspicious start. We drove part of the North Loop and stopped at a couple of the observation decks. Here is the view northwest from one of those.
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-320, f/5.6, 1/200s|
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-800, f/7.1, 1/1000s|
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/8, 1/640s|
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/8, 1/250s|
This lone bird was hanging out on the bank next to the pond, conveniently posing.
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-200, f/6.5, 1/3s|
In addition to cranes and snow geese, we also saw numerous ducks as well as a couple dozen Canada Geese. This picture shows some Mallards and American Wigeon as well.
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/8, 1/320s|
As sunset progressed, the light showed a nice hue on the birds. Here is a crane picking matter out from the water with its bustle glowing orange.
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/8, 1/1000s|
A pair of cranes flying through the golden sky. This scene looks like it belongs in Egypt. Danielle says that one is saying to the other, "we shoulda taken that left toin at Albuquerque!"
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/8, 1/800s|
The observation deck was placed such that we were able to see cranes silhouetted in the sunset lit pond.
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/6.5, 1/1250s|
The pond below contains mostly cranes. A few formations of ducks are flying further south in the park. The ducks have stubby wings and flap much faster than do the geese.
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-80, f/5.0, 1/160s|
|Canon SX-50 HS - Single frame from movie|
In this picture, the sunset illuminates one of the drainage canals surrounding the pond. A small bridge crosses this one to get to the observation deck.
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-400, f/6.3, 1/20s|
I did manage to get a shot of Venus shining over the park with some birds taking off from the pond. I was amazed how loud a large flock of geese is when it takes off; it sounded like a plane revving up for takeoff.
|Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-400, f/6.3, 1/15s|
The video below show a clip of birds landing in the pond and one of the cranes and geese vocalizing in the pond.
Wow, I have never seen so many birds in one place. The official count for the day listed about 9000 Sandhill Cranes, 45,000 Snow Geese, and 90,000 ducks of various species. We will definitely be making more trips here.