Weather conditions for the morning were as predicted…a “Go”, so the crew went about their duties accordingly. Geoff, Julie and Colleen left for the pen a little earlier than usual to clean up the mess made the morning before by the “Visual Barrier Terrorists”…a sinister organization of two; one zombie slayer and one white haired desperado who never met a visual barrier he didn’t like.
Their mission. to place additional visual barriers around the pen to compensate for the action of the high winds which blew the trees naked of leaves and robbed the crane pen of its cover. And though the next day’s forecast whispered, “Hey , why bother – you guys will be out of here tomorrow,”we could hear within that voice the familiar tone of the fates setting us up for another smack with the whammy stick. So we set up the panels knowing if we did, the fates would release us and if we didn’t, they would hold us here for several more days during which we would listen to the winds howl and kick ourselves for being played for suckers yet again.
Soon the trike was revving at the pen as Geoff and Julie pulled open the gates. But the chicks just stood there with a puzzled expression, perhaps longing for the privacy of the visual barriers. Then, as if suddenly remembering the game, they launched from the pen…all but Curly….ah, I mean #4 who was standing on the other side of the plastic crane decoy waiting for IT to launch.
Curly mastered the fine art of confusion at an early age, and in fact hatched with a question mark hanging over his head. But time and tide wait for no trike, and trying to stop a launch once it has begun is like trying to recall a bullet, so off we went, the five chicks and I.
Our confused little fellow also followed, but was late and soon was a ways back. Then the sound of another trike behind him sent him into a further state of confusion, but Richard soon picked him up as the rest of us headed up and on course.
This is my favorite leg of the migration because it is one of transition….southern Wisconsin and a landscape of swirls and eddies, where the straight line is sacrilege, and the land rests upon the earth like an unmade bed covered by a quilt of mesmerizing color, morphing eventually into the beginning of Illinois, the land of “flat”, where the right angle rules and its attendant lines checkerboard all that lies this side of the horizon.
Sadly for me, the thick grey overcast muted the sun’s ability to ignite the fall colors and give life to the usual game of hide and seek played by light and shadow down in the folds and creases of the below. But there is joy in the act of going, and soon the chicks absorbed my focus. They have worked out their parts in this drama and perform them dutifully. They are in the airm, as they are on the ground, characters.
A benevolent tailwind and cold temperatures made the flight an easy one and soon we were again on solid ground, birds in the pen and trikes safely hangared and the warm friendship of our hosts made short work what was left of our lingering chill. If the rest of the migration goes this easily, the biggest challenge for me will be to point the web cam in the right direction. But then, direction has always been my problem. Visual barrier…anyone??????
Photo compliments of Anne Saeman who captured Richard flying overhead with his solo companion #4 who was late out of the gate at the Green County, WI pen.