Friday, April 15, 2011

CRANES FIGHT TO SAVE THEIR EGGS FROM FLOOD!

When I awoke this morning, it was raining: not that hard but you could tell it had been raining very hard. I ate my breakfast and read my emails and by this time, it had stopped raining. It was about 7:30AM and I decided to go check on the nests: both the heron's and the Sandhill Crane's nests. If you remember I had taken some images of the nest on an island in the middle of a pond. The parents were taking turns sitting on two eggs that I was lucky to photograph while one parent was turning the eggs over to insure they would be warm on all sides. Here is a photograph of the nest and you can see the eggs. As you can see, the island is large enough for the nest but not much else.

At least that morning it was! When I parked my car, as I usually do, I checked across the street at the crane's nest. The eggs were still incubating and not knowing when they were laid, I really had no idea when they would hatch. Each morning it would be a cursory look, just enough to see if the parent was still sitting on the eggs. This morning, as I looked through some shrubs, I could see not one parent but two standing near the nest. I ran back to the car, grabbed my camera and tripod and raced back to a spot I had found which gave me a good view. When I arrived, my heart sank. The two parents were not feeding two little chicks as I had hoped but were trying to save the eggs. Their nest was, for all practical purposes, gone as was the island: both were covered by water. I could see the eggs on a extremely small piece of land. The two parents were trying to build the island and nest, tiny piece by tiny piece.

You can see by where the water is on their legs that they had already been busy and somewhat successful. A gentleman who lives on the pond came over to tell me that when he awoke around 4AM the eggs were under water and the parents were frantically trying to rebuild the island. What we can see in this picture is what they had been able to build so far.

I watched for about two hours and these two remarkable birds would not stop! They just kept picking up pieces from the pond floor and throwing/dropping them at the nest and the eggs trying to save their children. It was a moment when I felt so helpless! I knew I could not walk out there without scaring the parents away, possibly for good. All I could do was watch them and hope that they would be successful. The biggest fear I had was that the eggs would be getting too cold without the warmth of the parents sitting on them. It was so inspiring and heart wrenching to watch these birds trying so hard: fighting to save their island, nest and family.


                                 One parent walks over towards the eggs and the other parent.
     Suddenly reacting in this manner...frustration?? I would think so but it then went back to the task at      
     hand.

I have written in a earlier post that photographing nature can be very difficult. I joke with Phyllis that nature gives and nature takes away. In this instance, it was man's work taking away from the image making process. The white (naturally) house on the opposite side of the pond and the white sky reflecting in the pond created problems that I'm sure you can see. The house's reflection was right over the eggs during the early part of the morning. I was using 1600 ISO and the light was really low in the overcast conditions. It was challenging but not as challenging as what these two cranes were going through.

                                                     I wonder what this parent is thinking??

 I know there are a lot of images in this post (actually less then a third of what I took) but this is such a story of determination and parental diligence that I could not stop documenting it. Over the course of the last two weeks, I have seen these birds every day. I feel like I know them and to see them going through this was heart breaking! I could feel their frustration and determination and it made me proud.

    You can see in many of these images, the parents throwing debris from the pond floor in the
    direction of the eggs trying to build up the island/nest.


  I eventually had to leave but I will be going back today and tomorrow morning. I'm hoping the water goes down or the parents can build up enough space for their eggs. Also that the eggs have not been damaged and that all their devotion and hard work pays off and they are able to save their family.









   Again, I apologize for all the images but any less and I would have felt like I short changed you, the 
   reader but even more importantly, these cranes and their eggs.

18 comments:

Ann said...

Jim, what a heart wrenching story----I was on pins & needles as I scrolled through the photos & your commentary--I'll say an extra prayer tonight that these wonderful parents were able to save the eggs! Thanks for sharing!

Jessica Brant said...

Jim, you r photos are stunning really, really stunning
xoxo
Jessica
http://findingonesway.com/2011/04/this-%EF%BB%BFmoment-in-time-41511/

David said...

Love your amazing photos and the accompanying storyline. Thanks for sharing!!

Jim said...

Fantastic story, I need to share this!
Hope they are successful.

Jewell said...

I adore this....it's amazing how parenting across species really isn't so different sometimes! I do love the Cranes...they are so beautiful!

Vanessa Bentley said...

What an amazing story, and I can only imagine the hopelessness you felt. Great photography!!

melissa said...

hmmm...instincts... i was looking at the babies all the time...making sure they were safe :P...

you were there the whole time...but i'm glad that you let them do what they had to do... i understand your intent and could sense your care to make it easier for them... but they had to do that by themselves...

God gave them natural intelligence and survival instincts...

although i liked the colors, the shots, the angles... the story made it a bit heavy for me...:P...i have become a part of these cranes' story...

true God gives and takes away...but still blessed be the Lord...

oh i wish for the better on the next series :P

alejandro guzman said...

Here's hoping mate.

good job there.

A

Simon M Hunter said...

Some beautiful photos there, Jim, congrats!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I too hope the cranes save their new family. Beautiful photos. I see a real parallel to human life here. Keep us posted.

Alfandi said...

is that flood normal, expected seasonally..? The last 5 years I'm seeing a drastic change in weather patterns around here..the water bird population is dwindling..and this year, up to today, haven't seen any butterflies even though in season...weird..but those are indeed stunning photos...

Dave said...

What great photographs! And a heart-wrenching story too. I hope they are ultimately successful in saving those eggs.

Jenni said...

Wow, who knew that a story about birds would make me leave his comment through slightly blurry tear filled eyes. Usually I comment on your beautiful photos and while I still say they are stunning, I have to point out your words. With each new sentence you have filled my heart with sadness and longing for those eggs. I hoped beyond hope that your last picture would be of the eggs completely out of the water. I wonder if Birds pray? Thank you for sharing this, once again you have astounded me.

Alpana Jaiswal said...

Wonderful photographs,Jim...and I owe you an apology...I am here after a long time,didn't know as to what I was missing out on..sorry.

Debbie said...

Jim, great photos but sad story...

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Jim - I've got your blog on my blogroll and stop by from time to time but don't comment. As much as I like your wedding photography, I find that these pics moved me more. Thank you for sharing them. They're brilliant and so too was the story.

Rimly said...

Jim you are amazing. I had my heart in my mouth. I just hope they were able to save the eggs. Looking forward to the rest of the story.

Farfalla Dreams said...

WOW!!! What an AMAZING story and pictures, but HEARTBREAKING at the same time.

I am praying for a Happy Ending!!! Thank you for sharing and Happy Birthday to you!