Typical habitat for flocks in winter, harvested lands “Picture taken by Glenn Ranke”
As we approach mid-winter, Wakkerstroom – amazingly, has hardly felt any of the icy times it is renowned for. In fact, it sounds almost as though we have been warmer than Johannesburg and Pretoria! So who says there is no such thing as climate change!
Wind, we have had plenty of that, it just never seems to stop and has been ongoing since April. When you see the flocks of cranes with more than half sitting flat on the ground – and a huge Fish Eagle barely making forward progress through the air, you must know the wind is strong! I have to admit that it is probably my least favourite element and during the winter months when it takes with it particles of dust and dry grass to infiltrate every small crack around windows and doors, it becomes beyond a joke.
At the moment I am at a bit of a loss as to where the closest to Wakkerstroom flocks of cranes are. On the occasions, some weeks ago, that I went out looking for them, I saw a few Blue Cranes and the usual flock of around 60 – 80 Crownies but recently have not even seen those. But then, one of the farmers where the flocks spent a lot of their time, did not plant maize due to the high costs of seed and fuel and those lands have been left dormant. The next door farm where they are often seen and where they roost in a large pan has also been quiet on that front as has the other choice where there are maize fields that have still not been harvested. I suppose it will be interesting to see if they arrive there when the cutting starts. But in the meantime, where are they? Some of the farmers say they are around but moving quite a lot.
What did interest me recently was seeing a single, young Blue Crane in those lands that have been left un- planted this season. First I find it unusual to see one crane on its own at this time and more importantly, that it was a young bird that I would have thought should have been safely in the body of the extended family!