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Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Some Days You Get Lucky

26 November 2019
An Outing to Long Point, ON

     Recently, our group of eight has been intact as we go on our outings, adding to the pleasure of the day. Today was such a day; Mary and Judy rode with Miriam and me, Franc and Carol picked up Jim and Francine at their house.
     November, in its infancy, presented us with cold weather and snow. We all groaned and complained about an early start to winter, but of late inclemency has morphed into benign and pleasant conditions, and we looked forward to a day of sunshine and a temperature climbing to 10° C. And we were not disappointed! Furthermore, a day at Long Point is always made all the more enjoyable by the fact that we are permitted to use Carol's sister, Betty's house to have our lunch, including fresh coffee which Carol always makes for us. It is never less than very agreeable, but on a cold day it verges on heavenly.
     Just to the north of Port Rowan we glanced off to the side and saw hundreds upon hundreds of Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis) in a ploughed field. This is one of the signature attractions of the Long Point area in the fall and the spectacle we were to witness would exceed all our expectations.



     Everywhere we looked there were cranes, adults and juveniles, birds landing, birds on the ground, spectres high in the sky and others coming in to land in that magical fashion of cranes of every species throughout the world.  Never had we seen so many in Ontario.



     In the evocative words from Paul Johnsgard's little book Those of the Grey Wind: The Sandhill Cranes - "The long, wavering grey line of cranes was like a giant aerial armada, weaving and advancing in wave after wave of birds stretching as far as the eye could see - and beyond."
     And so it was for eight awestruck observers, humbled by the grandeur of it all.
     The voice of these magnificent birds evokes wonder, joy, contentment, tranquility and a link to the primeval and vital quality of nature. It is at once a burble, a booming, a bugling, a glorious chorus in celebration of life, a choir of the great outdoors, a symphony borne on the wind, a trumpet of joy to sooth the most troubled breast. 


      The cranes were not the only spectacle, however. Fall on the north shore of
Lake Erie is equally renowned for the arrival of Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) fresh from their breeding grounds above the Arctic Circle. The skies were filled with swans. Swans vied with cranes to capture our attention. The chorus of the cranes was reinforced by the melody of the swans. We were delighted to see so many young birds, clear evidence of a successful breeding season.




     Upon landing the swans lined up in regimental fashion, all facing the same way, as though on a parade ground with a sergeant-major putting them through a drill.


     Swan or crane? Where did one look first?




     As we meandered along slowly, stopping all the while to feast anew on the spectacle, we saw more and more birds of both species, but the Sandhill Cranes had the edge in numbers. It was truly a remarkable show.




     The sky just kept on delivering cranes, and even provided a hint of celestial  colour as a fitting backdrop.





      In Europe many have seen spectacular concentrations of Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and while we do see large flocks in North America, they pale by comparison to the European spectacles. This was about as large a flock as we have seen and they wheeled around in unison, maintaining a tight formation, and thrilling us with their aerial exploits.


     Normally we all meet at the harbour in Port Rowan, but we had been occupied with the cranes and swans and were distracted from our regular pattern, but we decided to visit the harbour before lunch to check out the waterfowl. 
     The fish huts looked serene in the bright autumn sunshine.


     What few ducks were present were way out on the water. It is duck hunting season in Ontario, so perhaps they were wisely seeking safe haven in the middle of the bay.


     Most of the ducks in the image below were Canvasbacks (Aythya valsinaria).
Doubtless there were a few other species but we could not be sure of their identification.


     A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) was surveying the area, seeking prey no doubt, from atop one of the fish huts.



     At nearby Bird Studies Canada headquarters a Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii put on a bit of a show for us.


     A couple of stops along the causeway produced very little in the way of birds. But some of the trees still retained their leaves and looked quite splendid in the sunlight of this fine day.


     After lunch we went down to the area known as Old Cut, where Mary insisted on a group picture of some of us at least.

David, Mary, Carol, Franc
     There were many House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) around the feeders near to the banding station, and this picture reveals just what an attractive little bird this much maligned species is.




     We saw a couple of Brown Creepers (Certhia americana) in the woodlot and Francine managed not a bad picture.


     And not to be outdone she snapped her own group shot too.

Judy, Miriam, Jim, Mary, David
     It had been a fabulous day, highlighted by the Sandhill Cranes and the Tundra Swans, a day we will not soon forget. It was great that the whole group was able to enjoy it together.



101 comments:

  1. That was a great bird outing. My bird group is Sat mornings until winter. However, we did go last Sat and the highlight was a black backed wood pecker. Sand hill cranes are crazy birds to watch.

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    1. A Black-backed Woodpecker is always a great bird to find.

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  2. Hari OM
    As ever, I am in awe of the spectacle you always manage to provide us! YAM xx

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  3. Oh my. Oh my, oh my, oh my.
    It does indeed look like a fabulous day. Thank you for sharing the wonder.

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  4. Waaa il y a beaucoup de grues et de cygnes!C'est magnifique!
    Je n'ai jamais vu de grue en vrai.
    Le faucon est très beau! Super les photos de groupe!
    Bonne soirée

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  5. Looks like a good day out despite the cold. I missed the crane migration here as we were in RSA but I will see them again in spring God willing. As always excellent photos. All the best to you both. Diane

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    1. Ten degrees in November in Ontario is not cold, Diane. In fact ten degrees at any time would hardly qualify as cold!

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    2. Anything under 20C to me is cold 😊 I am warm blooded!!

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  6. Hello David,

    As always so many beautiful photos! Crane have the norwegian name Trane. Very similar :)
    It must be so nice to have a fellowship of birdwatchers.

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  7. Hi Both,
    You most certainly had on of those wonderful days we all hope for but only occasionally get, good you had your full eight in attendance so no one missed out.
    Sandhill Cranes are such beautiful birds and then to get the Tundra Swans, a day to remember. Mind the Red- tailed Hawk is also a real beauty. Well done Miriam, super images.
    All the best,
    John

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  8. Sandhill Cranes AND Tundra Swans? Yes, I'd say you got very lucky indeed!

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  9. Cranes and Swans? How nice! I think they are both quite beautiful!

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  10. Fantastic shots David. It’s amazing to see so many cranes together.

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  11. You have a wonderful way with words, what an interesting post accompanied with a great collection of photos. I especially love the photo of the House Sparrows! It was a lucky day indeed to see so many different species and to enjoy the day with friends.

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  12. ...those canes are a beautiful sight. Can I trade a number of geese for some?

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    1. Well, if they are CANADA Geese you should be happy and honoured to have them!

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  13. Hola David, me alegra ver que vuestra salida dió maravillosos frutos, alucinante poder disfrutar de tantas aves juntas y todas hermosas. Las fotos son preciosas y a través de ellas pude disfrutar de tanta belleza, vosotros estáis muy guapos. Enhorabuena para todos/as y un fuerte abrazo.

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  14. Glad you and your group were able to enjoy such an exceptionally beautiful day. I would so love to see those birds in such numbers, oh my, what a joy it must have been. And sparrows are always little darlings. And you got coffee....A perfect day with good company, wonderful bird sightings and my fave drink! Valerie

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  15. What beautiful shots of all those cranes. Another fine day out in the field.
    Thanks for sharing, David.

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  16. SO great to see these large flocks gives me hope!!

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  17. It's reassuring to hear of instances when all does seem right in our muddled world. It IS a birder’s paradise, especially when shared with friends. That little spot of light over the birds in flight is glorious and the fish-hut photo, with its composition and colour, is a work of art worthy of hanging on a wall.

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    1. I will pass on your words to Miriam, Maria. It's always great to hear from a fellow Canadian.

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  18. So many birds is wonderful. Especially the Cranes (that I managed to picture in Montana last year) and the Swans, a species that I have not yet meet. The picture where the Swans are playing military revue is really great ! Thanks for sharing.

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  19. What a wondrous, sensational day of birding, completley enjoyed by me, through the incredible images and prose. Thank you.

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  20. So many swans in one place they are rare here but over in WA you often see the black swans in groups.
    Merle........

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    1. When I was in Australia last year we saw several large concentrations of Black Swans, both in Victoria and in Tasmania. Great bird!

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  21. We have some Canadian geese down here in our community pond. They are beautiful. Don't mess with them, though.

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  22. Fabulous to watch those Sandhill Cranes. We saw similar flocks just east of Stayner 3 weeks ago. Awesome!

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  23. What a lovely day you all had and happy smiling faces.
    Wonderful photos taken on the day, do love those little sparrows - they are ever so sweet.

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  24. Sparrows and more sparrows comprise all the birds around me now, and I love every one of them. But even more, your photos of cranes and swans are beautiful. I love them in flight; their long legs trailing.

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  25. I simply cannot imagine the beauty and awe of seeing these magnificent birds in flight. I don't think I would be able to breathe.

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  26. Definitely sounds like you had a remarkable day out together. I enjoy seeing your different birds, as the starlings and sparrows are the only ones we have here. I've seen starlings fly like that (in a small group like you had), and they are amazing to watch (and noisy!).

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  27. We've been fortunate to observe a nesting pair of sandhill cranes some years but I cannot imagine seeing so many of them in one spot. Great pictures.

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  28. It is a real fortune to have so many birds at rest.

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    1. PS
      Electric scooters are waiting for customers...

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  29. En imponerande syn David med alla tranor och svanar som samlas. Det måste finnas en orsak till att alla svanar vänder sig åt samma håll men jag kan inte lista ut vad skälet är.
    En häftig bild är det hur som helst.

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  30. Awesome birds, those Sandhill cranes!

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  31. Thank you for another wonderful series of bird photos! Our cranes are a bit different, northern geese also. They have partly yellow beaks. But the sweetest are the sparrows!

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  32. A day you will never forget David. Amazing the amount of Cranes and Swans you saw. Fantastic! This year I did not see one Crane. The winds were not favorable and they passed all over Germany. Hope to see them in Spring when they will return to their breading grounds. House Sparrows are also wonderful to watch and the Red-tailed Hawk is amazing. The photo's taken by Miriam are wonderful.
    Regards,
    Roos

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  33. Hello David, what a wonderful outing. Awesome sightings of the Sandhill Cranes and the Tundra Swans. Cool capture of the sun dog with the cranes. Beautiful photos. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy weekend ahead.

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  34. Hi David,
    I can imagine you were absolutely impressed by seeing such huge amounts of cranes and tundra swans. I have seen some crane species in my life, but their numbers were very low. Still, they impressed me anyway. To see these wonderful birds is never going to be boring. A day to remember!
    Greetings, Kees

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  35. Maravillosa quedada con gran cantidad de avistamientos amigo David, realmente tuvo que ser un día maravilloso de los que se guardan un excelente recuerdo. El reportaje es fantástico de hermosas fotografías. Un día para no olvidar y mantener siempre en la memoria.
    Un fuerte abrazo de tu compadre y amigo Juan.

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  36. La blancura de las grúas, resaltan entre los colores del campo y el azul del cielo.

    Buen lugar para el avistamiento de aves y plasmarlas en hermosas fotos.

    Besos

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  37. Hi David!!!.. beautiful series of images .. I love Cranes and sparrows.. Cheers

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  38. Hi David.

    You have seen so many beautiful things.
    Beautiful all those birds together so much.

    Greeting from Patricia.

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  39. What a wonderful day you've had! Here, most migratory birds have traveled to warmer regions :-))

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  40. Who knew when we left home in the morning what a fantastic day of birding and companionship we would have. I think of the times in Long Point when we could hear the intriguing call of the cranes with not a one in sight. But, the choir was out in full view today, filling the air and our hearts with its glorious concert. Thank you for your eloquent account and Miriam and Francine for their amazing images.

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    1. Hey Carol: I understand you know a guy named Franc who is known to take the odd good picture. Maybe we can add a couple of his later.

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  41. Bonitas imágenes David, ahora por aquí llegaron las grullas se encuentran miles de ellas ( son otra variedad ) también cientos de gansos del Nilo y otras aves distintas. Tienes que venir Mirian y tu, te encantará. Besos.

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  42. You definitely hit the jackpot there David. As you explain so well, it is not just seeing the birds. It is the whole spectacle combined, the glorious weather, the noise and the camaraderie. Happy Days and memories of Old Cut.

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    1. Every time I visit Long Point I think of you, Phil. I am sure the banding station hasn't changed a great deal since you were there.

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  43. For me, any large flock of birds is exciting, so I can fully appreciate how exhilarating it must have been to see large numbers of such special birds as Sandhill Cranes and Tundra Swans must have been, David. I find that large gatherings of humans have the opposite effect on me - I wonder why!?

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    1. Me too, Richard. I actually get a little claustrophobic these days.

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  44. Beautiful pictures David!Love them all:)So nice to see this:))

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  45. Paradise for birds and birders. Oh how I would love to see this spectacle.

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    1. Come to Ontario next fall and we will try to arrange it!

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  46. Thank you David for these beautiful cranes. Their number is impressive, as in my country with the ashen cranes. They migrate above my house, I love it. We'll go and see them in the fields.
    Picture 12 is fabulous!
    Kisses David

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  47. What a truly wonderful day.
    Lovely friends, amazing bird sightings and photographs … certainly a day to remember!

    All the best Jan

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  48. What an interesting birding day, watching so many magnificent birds is overwhelming and at the same time comforts the spirit. I didn't know about such epic migrations, it reminds me of the sheldgeese who arrive in the south of my province in winter to the fields. You can tell you had a great time in that place.

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    1. I hope you will be able to experience it at some point, Hernán.

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  49. Great pictures. I am learning a lot here. Have to come back. : ))

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  50. I have not seen Tundra swans but I love swans, they are such proud birds.
    I liked your words: 'a glorious chorus in celebration of life, a choir of the great outdoors, a symphony borne on the wind'. It's so romantic, David!

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  51. What a delight it must have been to see so many Cranes (and the Swans), the are beautiful birds! I love watching the Starlings, we have mini murmurations around our house sometimes as they roost in the neighbours garden and then we've seen the huge ones on a local reserve, they're mesmerising!

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    1. Great concentrations such as these flocks are among the most cherished spectacles of nature.

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  52. Wow,those pics are stunning, especially those, where there is do many of birds☺

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  53. You were very privileged that day to be surrounded by so much beauty, lots of birds and good friends! I love the sparrows!
    Wishing you a nice weekend!

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  54. Hi David - lovely to see you all together enjoying your trip ... so lucky to have that haven for lunch and coffee. The cranes and swans ... amazing - as are all Miriam's and Francine's photos ... thanks for sharing with us - cheers Hilary

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    1. It has become a bit of a tradition now, Hilary. As long as Carol is with us we get to visit Betty's house. I think the ladies especially appreciate a warm, clean washroom!

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  55. This has been an amazing post .. my husband will snap a picture of the odd crane here and there, at the golf course he plays at .. they are usually hunting for frogs (the cranes that is ? LOL) and he is fascinated by them as I am .. to see them on mass like that must have been thrilling .. let alone the swans and other assorted birds. Great pictures and the crane music must have been wonderful to hear !

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  56. Wow David indeed a fantastic day with some awesome species. Great.

    Greetings,
    René

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  57. Hi David, what a wonderful flocks of Cranes and Swans, I also can't chosse which photo to look ;-). The starlings are amazing indeed, we see large flocks down here and I'm very pleased to have starlings in my graden everyday, they are lovely and beautiful birds and I'm glad you were able to see a nice flock too. Your story sounds like a great day, and I'm glad you enjoyed it all and had fun together.

    Have a nice weekend,
    Marianne (plunking away with some more fingers in the meantime but still unable to use my wrist and arm).

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  58. Hi David,
    Quote: "The voice of these magnificent birds evokes wonder, joy, contentment, tranquility and a link to the primeval and vital quality of nature. It is at once a burble, a booming, a bugling, a glorious chorus in celebration of life, a choir of the great outdoors, a symphony borne on the wind, a trumpet of joy to sooth the most troubled breast. "

    I am impressed!!!!!
    I have no words to add! It is stunning and makes me happy!
    Warm Greetings,
    Maria

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  59. What an amazing sight so full of beauties! This does look like a perfect day with friends (feathered and human).

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  60. Hello David, I would be happy to see all the cranes and swans. Great collection of photos and post. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend. PS, thank you for the visit and comment on my blog.

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  61. Hi David, beautiful photos. You are very lucky. Can you sent them to the Netherlands?

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    1. I will talk to them Caroline, but that long flight across the Atlantic might be the killer!

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  62. Hello David!
    You had a great day. You saw huge flocks of cranes and swans.
    Thank you so much that I could see them.
    Hugs and greetings.
    Lucja

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  63. How amazing to see these beautiful birds in these numbers! I'm so glad you went and took these photos to share! It makes you feel SO good to experience a day like this!

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  64. I've never seen the Sandhill Cranes here - only down in Florida! Your shots are spectacular!

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  65. hello David
    again a worth seeing post, successful day, best weather nice people so the whole thing is much more fun. The cranes are something special, I could watch and hear them in Mecklenburg Vorpommern Germany. Terrific spectacle when everyone starts and trumpets ... you do not forget so fast
    Greetings Frank

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  66. Amazing shots David! Yu wittnessed certainly some special moments <3

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  67. We have Sandhill Cranes in lower Coastal BC and swans farther south in Skagit Valley in the States. We are snowbirding ourselves in California and have seen lots of our Canada Geese on lakes and reservoirs here. - Margy

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  68. Magnificent birds... and photos!

    It was good to see that the invitation worked also with an email address other than gmail. Thank you!

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  69. Amigo David, no hay duda de que fue un día maravilloso, se os ve sonrientes y felices y no me extraña dado que ver y escuchar a las grullas debe de ser increíble y también ver los patos y los pequeños pájaros.
    Un beso grande.

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  70. wow, that´s wonderful. :) So many cranes and those bautiful swans :)

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  71. Some day I hope to see an owl in the the wild. - Margy

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    1. Well, you are in California right now. Should not be too hard to find Burrowing Owl or Northern Pygmy Owl. Great Horned Owl too.

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  72. Great to see so many beautiful cranes together. In the Netherlands they can be seen in a few places and I have once seen 2 in the wild but nothing more. You immediately see a whole field full!
    The swans with the black beaks are also great. In the winter we often have wild and small swans and they both have a yellow / black beak. We have the red-bumped mushroom all year round. I am impressed by the flying images.
    Moi like the buzzard is put on the photo and the sparrows make me happy :-)))))
    Dear greetings, Helma xo

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  73. The white breasted nuthatches are pretty. Never seen this bird before!

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