One of life's greatest pleasures is driving through the Wind River Canyon. As a resident of the canyon it's a beautiful excursion we sometimes take for granted. Three mornings ago, we were on the way into Thermopolis to fetch the mail and have a picnic in the Hot Springs State Park; by the mineral falls as they enter the Bighorn River. I usually take the long way into town, because farm roads yield wildlife observations.
Less than a quarter of a mile out of the canyon I caught sight of a bird that we had never, ever observed so near before! I couldn't believe it.....Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis) with a mountain background akin to a painting; like some kind of ready-made video painting.
This is a good time to repeat a fact-of-life, "Never leave home without your camera." I had actually went back to get my Canon M6 Mark II after I'd already started the truck; I am glad I remembered it at this moment.
As I ran through some thick, drying wild grasses, I used an ancient fence post as a lousy tripod; since I had no other option. I held still the camera for an agonizing twenty-plus seconds; I may have left fingernail gouges in the fence post. Such is the life of a wildlife nerd. The video below also includes my gasping for a breath-of-air. As a bird species, the Sandhill Crane has the longest fossil record; direct relative ancestral fossil records of 10 million years! These are very big birds with wingspans of five and a half to seven and a half feet! They can stand four and a half feet tall! There are five sub-species recognized; four in America, the other in Cuba. I still cannot believe they were here at all; my timing was just serendipity (dumb luck).
Wild Turkey Update----last fall at this time we had just one; a yearling that survived from six little turkeys; the mother was run-over in the center of the road. All alone she came round every day, all winter long. We now have at least 15 Wild Turkeys! The two huge Toms put on quite the display....right by my kitchen door; but no, we will never hunt one. I do like a turkey sandwich with melted cheese, however:-)
Thank you once again for reading my true wildlife stories from the Wind River Canyon. Safely visit my website HogbatsPhotography.com for 100 birds, Bighorn Sheep and lots of hummingbirds, too. My name is Michael John Balog and I live in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.