Every years as the hot summer months give way to the cool evening breezes of fall my thoughts turn to a small wetland outside Lodi and the annual arrival of the sandhill cranes. In the past I have waited impatiently for mid October to watch their arrival but this year I chanced  an early trip on the first weekend of fall to see if there was a vanguard of their force here already.

Stepping out of my car Sunday evening I was not disappointed as I was greeted by the sounds of cranes as they took flight for one last meal before sunset. groups of 10 to 15 cranes would pass overhead leaving the wetland to forage in a plowed field just on the other side of the road.

The water seemed sparse, I have not come to Isenberg so early in the season and maybe the flooding of the field is not complete but still the cranes gathered along the bank and the short dry grasses along the wetland.

A thin layer of clouds was illuminated by the setting sun as the cranes wheeled overhead circling to find a roosting spot in the fading light.

I’m not sure the total number of cranes at the wetlands, a few thousand easily, which is a good sign for bigger gatherings at my sunrise and sunset visits to the wetland this season.