These birds have a particular “dance” they do. It incorporates all the necessary elements necessary to impress a potential romantic partner: strutting, wing-spreading, hopping about, as well as the occasional tossing of straw or dirt clods into the air. We witnessed the last maneuver, but my shots of it were too blurry to be of use. Suffice it to say that witnessing this spectacle of crane dancing is worth getting up at six AM for.
Since this blog has taken a turn toward animals lately (both dead and alive), we’ll stay on theme with a post or two on Sand Cranes. These are large migratory birds that converge by the thousands on the same field in Indiana every fall and spring. Until this weekend, I had no idea such a sight was to be had within ninety minutes’ drive of Chicago. When a friend suggested taking a trip to see them, the Idiot Photographer and I jumped at the chance. After all, road trips are always fun, and we needed some photo opportunities since the urbex has been in a little lull of late. So 6AM this past Sunday found us on the road, trying to get to the wildlife preserve shortly after dawn when these birds would be most active.
Some quick lessons learned: the lenses optimal for shooting decaying buildings are not so hot when it comes to capturing birds in flight. I had thought my 250mm lens was quite the zoom; it was neither “zoomy” or fast enough to get the kind of shots I was hoping for. Live and learn. I will post a few more shots tomorrow, including a couple of the cranes’ famous mating dance.
Two shots of birds from last weekend’s trip to the Brookfield Zoo. First, the instantly recognizable Greater Delta Mardi Gras Bird. (Bourbonaisse Plumarius)
And a portrait of the handsome Tufted Blue Gargler (Indigo Emesis)
The following is a bit of a rehashing and expansion on a subject already covered by the Idiot Photographer here. This is my turn to throw in my photographic two cents’ worth.
There is a ravine that runs through a part of southwest Cleveland which kept two racially disparate neighborhoods separated. The city built a 680 foot long suspension footbridge spanning the gorge in 1931. Amidst racial tensions in the 60’s, someone burned the wooden deck of the bridge, leaving it unusable. Ever since, it has been completely forgotten. Now, it is so overgrown it can’t easily be seen from the streets it once connected, and most Clevelanders have not heard of it.
There is a certain feeling one gets upon finding an object of which landscapers working mere yards away were wholly unaware. That feeling, for me, is the essence of urbex.
From a shuttered amusement park in the middle of Ohio. Nature has reclaimed most of what there was to see, with rusted rails furtively peeking out of dense foliage before plunging again into the thicket.
My entry in the ongoing plant-off that the Idiot Photographer and I are engaged in, good naturedly, of course. We need JuniorBBQ and Moribund to come in with some prairies and pianos soon lest this blog become the botanist’s illustrated guide to armageddon.
For all of winter’s austerities, there are riches to be found for those who look.
The sun was barely peeping over the horizon when Tabula Rasa and I stumbled forth from our hotel into a cool Sunday morning in St. Louis. This was the day we were going to explore the old Armour meat packing plant which was in operation from 1903 to 1959. The reason for our early rising was the many reports of the elderly gentleman who patrols around the building and chases off people like us whenever he can. I was hoping to meet him since the rumors are that he once worked there and I had some questions, but I’d rather it would be at our exit than entrance. This building was the reason we were in the St. Louis area to begin with, everything else was just icing on the cake.
The building itself, or buildings, since this is a whole complex of which only two large buildings remain to any degree, is in a barren stretch of East St. Louis and tucked away in a mini forest of dense vegetation full of spiders and creeper vines. A short hike through the tall grass and into the woods brought us to the back way in and my first close up sight of Armour told me that even if we failed to gain entry into another building in the upcoming week, this trip was worth it.
Early morning is my favorite time for an explore, much to Tabula Rasa’s dismay. This day was perfect, and the only sounds to be heard was the dawn greetings of birds I am mostly unfamiliar with, the chirruping of crickets and the crackling of the vegetation as we approached. The light filtering in through the trees lent the whole place a magical air and I forgot my weariness at the early hour and trepidations over the reports of how dangerous this location could be.
It didn’t take long for us to wander apart and get lost in the silence and it would be well over an hour before we would see each other again.
The green has swallowed these buildings whole, and we were in the thick of it. One building has gone so far that it is nothing but a skeleton of itself, and the creepers have scaled its bones, slowly tearing it down, making it part of the green once again.
This is not a place of humankind any longer, and our trespass into this land is against the reclaiming forces of nature rather than human law.
I haven’t really wanted to get to this point, as finishing this series on Iceland would feel like the experience was finally lived and digested, truly over. But all things must pass, no? These are the remaining pictures I wanted to share, in no particular order. Mouse over each shot for additional commentary.
A campground in a remote valley was where I spent my third night in Iceland. Getting there was an adventure; high winds and rain made driving treacherous, and dense fog kept my destination obscured. When I woke the next morning, the winds had calmed and the fog had lifted somewhat, and I could see my surroundings. The flat valley where I had camped was surrounded on three sides by steep mountains, cut through by gorges that trailed up into the hills until fading into the mist. I’m not prone to using adjectives like ‘magical’ or ‘enchanted’, those words having been worn out from repeated use on Disney movies, but here I humbly suggest their meaning might be restored.