Dusting off the Nikkor zoom, focus on Jasper-Pulaski sandhill cranes

The normal midterm teaching glut combined with a variety of personal and professional issues to force a six-week respite from nature work here at Natural Bloomington. While much-needed, it’s a hiatus that will at last come to an end next week. At a minimum, I will hike Browning Mountain in the Hoosier National Forest.

Weather permitting, however, I’ll photographically engage a few thousand sandhill cranes at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area. Upwards of 10,000 of these magnificently winged creatures, a State Species of Special Concern, gather at this natural area’s marshlands on their winter migrations south from Central Wisconsin. The latest count puts their Northwest Indiana numbers at roughly 5,600, with a peak expected in late November.

I have Monday phone call scheduled with folks at the IDNR’s Division of Fish & Wildlife for permission to gain closer access than the public viewing tower, which still offers superb views. If the current weather forecast doesn’t hold – what are the odds? – I will plan for Thanksgiving week.

The last time I photographed sandhills was in February 2014 at Ewing Bottoms, White River East Fork marshes outside Brownstown, where thousands actually winter each year.


This is Southeast Indiana? -- the final guidebook draft

While offline for a month-and-a-half, I’ve not put Natural Bloomington work on hold.

Several weeks were spent creating a slideshow called This is Southeast Indiana?, which I presented as the featured speaker at the Oak Heritage Conservancy's annual meeting in Batesville on Oct. 14.

And in recent weeks, I have culled some 5,000 Northern Indiana images to 112. And with guidance from the Division of Nature Preserves, I’m deleting species that are too sensitive for inclusion. I’ll send the final manuscript_v.1 to State Botanist Michael A. Homoya for a final review this week.

I assured my editor the completed work will be in her hands by the end of my Christmas teaching break.

So, it’s time to dust off the 80-400 zoom and head to Northwest Indiana again. A trip to Jasper-Pulaski in July produced some workable images, but it seems a sacrilege to feature it  without sandhill cranes.

My midterm glut has cleared, and I have a couple slow weeks coming up.

Plus, I need to get back in the field.

Photographs: Top, sandhill cranes, Ewing Bottoms, Jackson County; Middle and Bottom, Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area.


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