It seems hard to believe a patch of ground north of Lodi could hold such a fascination with people. In the waning light Saturday evening I stood behind a barbwire fence along side my dad as we watched wave after wave of sandhill cranes arrive for their evening roost.
This was my second trip to the Isenberg crane reserve for the season. This trip was special as I brought my dad to watch the evening arrival. I thought we would have the small parking area to ourselves to watch the flocks arrive but Saturday was the first day of Lodi’s Sandhill Crane Festival that drew hundreds to cram the grass viewing area in hopes of catching a glimpse of the cranes.
In the fading light as the evening winds picked up we were greeted by the sound of thousands of sandhill cranes arriving to the wetlands. As the sun dipped below the horizon the sky the scattered clouds slipped form gold to a fiery red as the cranes circled in for a landing.
If you haven’t seen it in person it is hard to describe the arrival. A line forms across the horizon as the flock nears. You soon hear the echoes of their call, a unique reverberation in their throat. Then as they approach the water their legs jut out and as they effortlessly float down to the ground.
It is always seems special to me to visit Isenberg for the sandhill cranes arrival. Their prehistoric appearance belies their graceful flight ability. The cranes mass arrival is beautiful and worth the effort for the trip to the remote section of farmland.
I will be making two more trips this season to Isenberg, one more sunset arrival and a season ending sunrise view of the cranes departure for the day. The sights and sounds of the cranes are not to be missed and I feel privileged to witness this rite of nature.