"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

10,000 Elusive Sandhill Cranes

For two weekends in a row recently, we tried to see an estimated 10,000 sandhill cranes nesting in the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge on the Tennessee River north of Chattanooga by boat, but weather was a factor both times.  Despite the setbacks, we actually had a pretty good time on both trips.
Heavy fog was the culprit on our first try on January 12, 2013.  Despite much warmer-than-usual temperatures, the fog never lifted enough for us to make it all the way to the nesting site.
Blue Moon Cruises were our guides on both trips and provided a beautiful boat with comfortable amenities.  Our first cruise was booked through and sponsored by the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.
It's not like we didn't see any sandhill cranes.  This little group was spotted heading back to the refuge from our boat.
We went north from the Sale Creek Marina to just past the Highway 60 bridge that connects Dayton and Decatur, TN, before having to turn around due to fog so heavy the captain was navigating only by radar and for the sake of safety had to call it off.  We still wound up having a nice cruise as the area is beautiful even shrouded in fog and we did see some wildlife.  Thanks to our friends, TIm and Lavonda, for tagging along with us and thanks to Blue Moon Cruises for the great lunch provided plus the chance to come back for another free cruise and try again to see the cranes and the refuge area.  We headed back to Chattanooga and caught a matinee showing of "This is 40" which was very funny and enjoyable as well as a delicious dinner at the always-great Urban Stack gourmet burger joint.
Saturday, January 19, 2013:  Now this is more like it!  We decided to go ahead and take our bonus cruise the very next weekend since the weather was clear (albeit a bit colder).  However, little did we know until we got to the refuge area that the heavy amount of rain over the preceding week had flooded the mud flats where the sandhill cranes usually hang out and forced them farther off the river and barely visable from the boat.  Again, the trip wasn't a total loss since we saw a several bald eagles, great blue herons, kingfishers, geese and ducks.

OK, yes, I love my new Smartphone for goofy stuff like this.  This screenshot also shows a lot of the over 1,000 acres of land encompassed in the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge.

Great blue heron.
ALL parts of the Hiwassee Refuge Area are used by the nesting birds including this TVA transmission tower.
This HUGE bald eagle nest had a mother in it whose white head would pop up now and then and what we can only assume were some eggs or eaglets she was caring for.  We were surprised to hear that such nests can weigh over a ton!
The beauty of this place is hard to ignore.  Thanks again to our friends, Tim and Lavonda, for trooping out again with us as well as Ashlee's sister, Paige, and our niece, Ella.  We met back up with Tim and Lavonda again later that night in Chattanooga for dinner at a great new Mexican restaurant they suggested called Poblanos.  The food was marvelous.

No comments: