The sun popped out after an early morning drizzle (<6:30)—the first day of sun for over a week. With a new bike chain and sun, I seemed to bike faster.
Today’s most amazing thing was going to be the black bear that rambled across the highway a couple blocks in front of me. I slowed allowing it to enter the bush on my side of the highway. As I passed, I could not see it, nor did I pause to take a closer look.
Now for the once-in-a-lifetime event: About a half hour after I seen the black bear, I was peddling smoothly about 12-13 mph with a slight northwest wind as I was headed north about 25 miles south of Fort Nelson. I am not sure if I heard, seen, or felt something to my right (ditch-side). As I turned my head to the right at 90 degree angle, I looked blue eyeballs-to-orange eyeball (black pupal) at a sandhill crane. (At least that is what I would call it.) It’s long head was about 2-3 arm lengths away. It’s long neck and wings were behind me. After it seen me turn my head, it landed in the ditch and walked into the highway ditch bush. See today’s photo.
I cannot spot the crane in the photo, but at least you get an idea of the 4-5 foot tall bush along the road where the bear and crane found refuge.
My reasoning is that the crane was drafting behind and to my right. (Remember, I was cutting the northwest wind for it.) I have no idea how long it was there, as my large round mirror is on my left so I can see traffic approaching in the driving lane.
On our farm in northern South Dakota, each fall and spring I used to hear sandhill cranes pass. Constantly squawking, they fly in group formation about a mile high.
I have never been so close to a wild flying bird before. After it landed and went into the bush, I stopped. It squawked; waited a half minute or so and squawked again. Occasionally it would pop its head out between the bushes. I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich waiting to get a good photo. It may have been bored with me, as it quit squawking and maybe moved into the woods or sat nesting. After seeing the bear earlier, I did not have the guts to walk in after the crane.
I will end saying that this crane was big. Standing in the bush with head up, it seemed like five foot tall with red crown on its head and brown body. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.