Monday, February 28, 2011

Robert's Imaging: Marsh Madness

Short-eared Owl-roosting in the grassland

Over the past month or so Robert's Imaging, a camera store in Indianapolis, had been setting up a photography workshop at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area. The timing was meant to coincide with the Sandhill Crane migration which worked out perfectly as there were 12000+ cranes using the property. David FitzSimmons (a sigma pro photographer), Brad Feaster (the Goose Pond property manager), and I were to lead the 34 participants around for photography opportunities.

Sandhill Cranes foraging in a corn field.

On Friday I headed over to Goose Pond to do some scouting with Dave. After a little while we realized how difficult it may be to get close to the Sandhills. Eventually we made it over to Beehunter Marsh, which I thought might be the best spot for us. It turned out fairly well with quite a few Sandhills flying by overhead. After that we drove up the old farmhouse road at Beehunter and were happily surprised with 6-7 Short-eared Owls roosting close to the road. We figured this would be the best area for the group the next day.

A big flock of Snow and Greater White-fronted Geese.

On Saturday before the workshop started at 8am, I drove through parts of Goose Pond. There were around 10000 Sandhills in Beehunter and about 2000 roosting in Goose Pond. After a short talk by Dave at the Carnegie building in Linton we organized into groups and headed out into the field. Dave and I both took our groups Beehunter. By the time we arrived there were less than 100 Sandhills where a couple hours ago had been 10000+. We decided to try for the Short-eared Owls next and struck out.
Sandhill Cranes in flight.

Over the rest of the afternoon we found some fairly cooperative Sandhills, some ducks and geese, among a few other species. We then went to a field for two Whooping Cranes which were a very exciting sighting for all involved. We finished up at the end of the day back at the Short-eared Owl spot. Luckily one was still hanging around. We got very lucky when one of the owls perched up on the top of a short tree in the field in close range. Everybody enjoyed this great opportunity to photograph an owl.

Whooping Cranes