Early Spring Birding in Midwest USA - Part 1:
Sand Hill Cranes in Indiana
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Two greater sand hill cranes (有丹頂的美洲沙丘鶴) in flight over Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in
Indiana, USA on March 4, 2011.
I also took a movie clip of these large number of sand hill cranes in action in flight as shown at the following
YouTube website:

http://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlgHjOAu3Y4
奮飛碧霄而去。

I zoomed in for closer views of these sand hill cranes in flight.
More pictures of sand hill cranes in flight over Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area
We also saw some water fowl on Lake Michigan near the beach.
Location and Direction to Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area:

The address of Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area is 5822 N. Fish and Wildlife Lane,  Medaryville, Indiana
47957, Phone:  (219) 843-4841
Website and Video at: http://
www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3109.htm

It is near the junction of US 421 and Highway 143 in northwest Indiana.

Direction: Take I-94 east to Michigan City, take exit for US 421 south. Continue south on US 421 for 45 miles.
Turn right (west) into Highway 143. After a short distance, turn right (North) at Jasper-Pulaski Headquarters
sign.

Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area

Map: Click here to see a detailed area map of Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area



Location of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore:

The Visitor Center of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is located near the junction of Indiana Highway 49 &
Munson Road, Porter, 46304, Phone Number for Visitor Information: (219) 926-7561 ext. 3.
Website: http://
www.nps.gov/indu/index.htm

Map: Click here to see a Google Map showing location of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore


Location of Illinois Waterway Visitor Center:

Illinois Waterway Visitor Center
Dee Bennett Road (i.e. CR-34)
Ottawa/North Utica, Illinois 61350
Phone (815) 667-4054

The Starved Rock State Park and Illinois Waterway Visitor Center are on opposite side of the Illinois River.
The Illinois Waterway Visitor Center is located on the North bank of the Illinois River between Utica and Ottawa.

Direction to the Starved Rock State Park or Illinois Waterway visitor Center:

To get to the park from Chicago take I-55 south out of Chicago toward St. Louis. Then exit on I-80 west 45
miles to Utica and turn off at exit #81 at Utica. Go south 3 miles on State Route 178 and follow signs to the
park.

Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Illinois Waterway Visitor Center

Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Starved Rock State Park
百鶴群舞。

Many more greater sand hill cranes in flight over Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana.

The greater sandhill crane is a large crane of North America with a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet and may stand as
tall as five feet.
This is the elevated viewing platform at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area for visitors to watch large
number of sand hill cranes during the migration seasons in the early spring and in late fall.

Notice a fence in front of the Elevated Viewing Platform to prevent visitors from getting too close to the sand
hill cranes feeding on the large Goose Pasture as shown in the following photos.
We were happy to see these large number of sand hill cranes in Indiana. Then we drove north to visit Indiana
Dunes National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan as shown in the following.
However, the sand dunes here along Lake Michigan are more than 100 feet high and are much higher than
those in New Jersey seashore and  in eastern US coastal beaches. We climbed up to the top of such high
dunes to get better views of Lake Michigan as shown in these two pictures.
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長風萬里送春鶴, 候鳥開始飛回北方的時候。

Many more greater sand hill cranes in flight over Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana.

We went to Chicago, Illinois to attend a wedding on March 5, 2011. Instead of flying from New Jersey to
Chicago, we took this trip as an opportunity for early spring birding in Midwest USA by driving our own car
from New Jersey to Chicago, Illinois and stopping at several interesting birding places in Pennsylvania, Ohio,
Indiana and Illinois.

We toured Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana on March 4, 2011 to see huge number of migratory
greater sand hill cranes that are migrating north from Florida to Upper Midwest (Wisconsin, Michigan, northern
Illinois, northern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota) and Canada.

Spring Migration Period: On any particular day from late February until the second week of April, about
4,000 to 7,000 sand hill cranes can be expected at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana.

Fall Migration Period: From October through November Sand hills from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and
Ontario stop at Jasper-Pulaski during migration. More than 30,000 Sand hills have gathered there in early to
mid November during the peak of migration.
Since those sand hill cranes on the Goose Pasture are very far away from the elevated viewing platform, I had
to use the 35X optical zoom of my compact super-zoom camera to zoom in to get such pictures of some of
those sand hill cranes feeding on the pasture. (One sees the effects of heavily cloudy day with dim and gloomy
 light on the quality of the pictures of these sand hill cranes very far away.)
The "300-Acre-Goose-Pasture" in front of the elevated viewing platform. Notice that many sand hill cranes are
very far away feeding on the far side of this goose pasture. Visitors are not allowed to walk beyond the
elevated viewing platform to try to get closer to those sand hill cranes.
In our previous trips to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico in February, 2006 and to
Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge in Fairbanks, Alaska in August 2009, we were able to get much
closer to large number of sand hill cranes and were lucky to have sunny days for us to get much better
close-up pictures of sand hill cranes as shown on my web pages at:

http://
www.shltrip.com/Bosque_Del_Apache.html

http://www.shltrip.com/Go_To_See_Alaska_Part_5_Richardson.html
A view of the beach of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan. There are still some big
chunks of ice near the beach on March 4, 2011.
Part 2 of Early Spring Birding in Midwest USA entitled "Heron Rookery in Ohio" is at the following web page:

http://
www.shltrip.com/Heron_Rookery_in_Ohio.html
In this early spring birding trip in early March 2011, the weather was still cold and the air temperature often
dropped to several degrees below freezing point in the evening. The weather was mostly cloudy, some time
with snow and some time with rain. The dim and gloomy light under such cloudy day was not ideal to try to
take sharp pictures of so many birds in action flying fast.

I may come here again in autumn season of a future year picking a sunny day with strong sunshine so that I
can take much better pictures and movie clips of 30,000 sand hill cranes in action.
A bald eagle perched on a tree near Illinois River and Illinois Waterway Visitor Center.

On March 5 and the morning of March 6, 2011, we were busy attending a wedding and meeting many
relatives in Chicago, Illinois. After the lunch with relatives on March 6, we drove out of Chicago and drove
southwest about 60 miles to reach Starved Rock State Park and Illinois Waterway Visitor Center along Illinois
River/Waterway to see bald eagles in this area as shown in these photos.
Two more bald eagles perching on the trees near the Illinois River.
The Lock and Dam on Illinois Waterway near the Starved Rock State Park and Illinois Waterway Visitor
Center. This Lock and Dam is the key reason for many bald eagles to be in this area in the winter to catch fish
on the Illinois River. In the deep winter, most of river surface is frozen making it inaccessible to bald eagles to
catch fish. But the water flow from the top to the bottom of the Lock and Dam creates a limited area of open
water at the bottom of the Lock and Dam making it accessible to bald eagle to catch fish. Some fish stunned
by the turbulent water dropping from the top to the bottom of the Lock and Dam may become easy targets for
fishing birds like bald eagle. Therefore, in the deep winter, large number of bald eagles are forced to converge
into such limited area of open water for fishing. It is, therefore, an idea location for watching many eagles in
action. This is similar to the reason for large number of bald eagles at the Conowingo Dam on Susquehanna
River in northern Maryland in the winter season as described on my Travelogue web page at:

http://
www.shltrip.com/Bald_Eagle_P_2.html

The Eagle Viewing Festival in the area of Starved Rock Lock and Dam is usually in the deep winter of January
and February. A picture of large number of bald eagles perching on a large tree near the bottom of Starved
Rock Lock and Dam can be seen on this website:

http://
www.illinoisraptorcenter.org/eagle.html

Most of the bald eagles seen wintering along the Illinois River come from up North, in such areas as
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Canada. They will start their journey back to their breeding grounds by
mid-March and return once again to the Illinois River Valley by late October to early November.

We came here on March 6, 2011 and was at the tail end of the eagle viewing season. Most migratory bald
eagles have left and migrated north already. Therefore, we saw only a few bald eagles perching on the trees
on the river bank and several other bald eagles soaring high above the river on March 6, 2011.

The Illinois Waterway is a 336-mile system of rivers, lakes, and canals which provide a water shipping
connection from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. However, the water level in
Lake Michigan is higher than that of Mississippi River by about 163 feet. During the 1920s and '30s, the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers built 8 dams and locks to create a navigable "stairway" that drops 163 feet over the
course of some 336 miles, linking the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Each dam in the Illinois
Waterway produces a long, narrow lake with a nine-foot-deep navigation channel, while the locks provide river
traffic with safe passage around the dams by raising or lowering the vessels to the next "step" in the stairway.
The Starved Rock Lock and Dam shown in the picture above is one of this set of eight locks.
A juvenile bald eagle caught a fish and was eating the fish on this tree branch.
讀萬卷書    行萬里路

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