Friday, June 17, 2011

Cranes and Trains

29-09 is molting. Or we're pretty sure he is. He hasn't moved from this strange area in the middle of the woods for the past 3 weeks.

He's all alone. Something's fishy. Eva and I were discussing his strange behavior last week when Dan, one of the Field Ecology interns, was in the room. Eva mentioned that 29-09 might be in molt. Dan's intern project is about molting cranes. Why don't we send Dan in to go find 29?

Well, there's a problem. This location is adjacent to an old abandoned train. Last year, Matt Strausser the tracking intern, went in to find a different bird molting in the same area but he came back with stories of homeless people living in the train. So it's really unsafe for someone to go back there alone.

Dan and I went back there together for safety. We saw a crane REALLY far away (above is through scope) but we wanted to get a little closer. So we walked closer along the train tracks hiding in the bushes between the marsh and the train.

We came across some obstacles along the way, like a deep ditch. I crawled under the train to cross the ditch only to discover that there was a nice beaver-dam bridge that had been hidden by dense willows. The ditch was perfectly cross-able, so there was no reason to crawl under the train.

We found some delectable wild strawberries.

Once we were closer, we climbed the train to scan the area. Nothin'. We couldn't see nothin'. So we got to hang out for an hour and play on the train. Really, we were just trying to reach higher ground to try to see over the bushes, but I'll admit it was a little fun to climb into the cars. They make it really had to climb to the roof of the train, just so you know.

It makes sense that 29-09 would hide if he can't fly. We know he was in the area because his signal was really strong. He either hunkered down into the tall grasses or he walked back into the woods. Cranes ain't dumb; they know when to hide. I just hope he comes back to the area because it seems like a safe area from predators.

In short: Fun adventure. We know 29-09 is alive, but we can't confirm that he's really molting.

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