This morning’s tour was a special one for me. PHYLLIS and Leonard East, are fellow fulltime RV bloggers, and we have been in email contact about getting together since they are in the area on a NOMADS assignment. NOMADS stands for Nomads On a Mission Active in Devine Service. They are a volunteer labor group in association with the United Methodist Church, but you don’t have to be a Methodist to serve. Many NOMAD volunteers are RV fulltimers. Right now they have a project going on that involves refurbishing and repairing a couple of houses in Moss Point, MS.
Moss Point is only about 15 minutes from the refuge, so I suggested a tour to Phyllis. She asked if she could bring some of the other volunteers along, and I said, “you betcha!”
Eight NOMADS showed up this morning, so we went ‘roaming around’ for a couple of hours. Phyllis and Leonard are the second couple in from the right. It’s a hoot to listen to them talk, as Phyllis is from New Jersey, and Leonard is from the deep south. What a contrast of accents.
During the first half hour or so of the tour, I was getting a little worried as we had seen no cranes in their usual haunts. It’s getting toward the middle of February, and by the end of the month nary a crane will be seen outside of the refuge as they’ll be busy being secretive and building their nests.
As we cruised the back roads of the refuge, we finally began to see some cranes, but they were mostly taking flight upon our approach. Those cranes that frequent locations just outside the refuge are more tolerant of vehicles, and allow tour goers to get out of the van to view them in the distance. Those cranes were all MIA today.
Then as we rounded a curve into a prime nesting habitat, a pair of cranes took flight, but landed again only a short distance further away. I immediately stopped the van and turned off the engine. I wanted everyone to get a good look at them. That’s when the magical National Geographic moment began.
One of the pair turned, and started serenading it’s mate. (I’m guessing this was the male.)
Then he began his dance!
This is a ritualistic pair bonding activity. I slowly snuck around the van to open the passenger doors so everyone could get out to watch.
They were quite a distance away, but everyone was able to experience the sights and sounds of this courtship as the male sang and danced for his true love. Cool beans!! (I know, I know, not very scientific)
Was the group as excited as I was about being able to see this extraordinary event? I sure hope so! Very few ordinary citizens of this world get to see something as magnificent as this. With only 120 (+ or –) of this species left on earth, it was a display to warm my heart that I will never forget. To add to the specialness of this occasion, I later found out that neither crane of this pair, that is defending this territory, has been banded. That means that they are both wild reared cranes, and truly two of the rarest birds on earth.
By the end of the tour, we had seen a record 33 cranes, but that number paled in contrast to watching the “Dance of the Cranes!”
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy