A Strange Evening

My husband has had a stomach virus and I needed to get some computer work done so we stayed home most of today. But this evening we got cabin fever and decided we would just go as far as Swan Lake Flats in the park. When we got there things seemed very quiet except for some distant thunder. We noticed the cars coming from the south were wet so we figured our photography time was limited. We spotted a pair of sandhill cranes way off on the west side of the road. I looked with binoculars and saw one baby. I think this is the pair that had 2 babies a week ago but I hope I’m wrong. I have tried to photograph sandhills before and they usually don’t let you get even remotely close but these guys seemed calm so I thought I would give it a try. I walked out in a straight line parallel to the cranes and stayed about 150 yards away from them. My plan was to get on the west side of them so the light would be right. But by the time I got out as far as they were, while still maintaining the same distance, the male flew over and started circling me and calling. I had obviously upset him but I wasn’t sure what I should do about it. Leaving seemed the right thing to do but every time I took a step he seemed more agitated, so I thought I would hold still for a minute or two while he calmed down and then leave.

Male Sandhill Crane Circling Me and Giving Me The Eye
Male Sandhill Crane Circling Me and Giving Me The Eye

But then suddenly where there was one crane now there were two. The female had come in too. They pulled themselves up to their full height and circled me. I have seen other cranes do this to a black bear once and now I know why he ran up a tree. But I didn’t have a tree. Almost as quickly as they got upset they calmed down and walked back in the direction where I had last seen their baby. They looked quite victorious as I slunk back to the car.

On our way back out of the park we saw a rainbow over the north edge of Bunsen Peak. We stopped to photograph it.

One End of a Yellowstone Rainbow
One End of a Yellowstone Rainbow

Usually when we see a rainbow we can’t get the car stopped fast enough while it is already disappearing. This one actually got brighter after we stopped and continued to get brighter for at least 10 minutes. If I have ever seen a rainbow last as long as this one I surely don’t remember it.

We were in the park less than an hour and I was almost attacked by a sandhill crane and we saw the most beautiful rainbow of our lives. Maybe I should have been afraid of the sandhill but I was more concerned I upset it and made it waste calories yelling at me.

We have always joked about not being able to get close to sandhill cranes but I promise I will never try that again, especially when they have a baby.

4 thoughts on “A Strange Evening

  1. I can hear you laughing Deby. Pretty territorial!! How about super territorial and scary when they are mad!! I really should have learned from Deby’s experience but I always like to try it myself. But that said I did feel awful I disturbed their evening. And when I was 150 yards away! I know one of the kids was around. I saw it both before and after, but only one. I think they are the ones that had 2 last week.

  2. Laughing my butt off! You must have forgotten my experience. I’ll bet the kids are around somewhere – let’s hope. Doesn’t it feel awful to disturb them? I felt so terrible and had gone out of my way to not disturb them – they are pretty territorial.

  3. Judy, you must have forgotten Deby’s experience with the Sandhills. Glad they calmed down, and you were able to make a safe exit .I’m glad you and hubby are feeling better and were able to get out and capture that beautiful rainbow.

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