Sunset at Isenberg Crane Refuge

Sandhill Crane in flight, , Isenberg Crane Refuge

Sandhill Crane in flight, , Isenberg Crane Refuge

Isenberg Crane Refuge is, well, it’s a parking lot along Woodbridge Road near Lodi, California. Or more correctly, it’s a parking lot next to the refuge, which is fence off so you can only view the birds from the edge of the refuge.

It’s a beautiful place to experience the evening fly-in of the cranes and geese. In the winter the birds migrate south to the refuges, but during the day they will break up into smaller flocks and move about the area in search of food. This means at dawn the flocks will wake up and then fly out to their day locations, which can be an interesting experience in its own right, because that’s not done quietly.

But in the evening, the birds return as the day fades to the protection of the refuges in groups small and large, streaming into the area and settling into their night roosting spots, and the combination of the fading light and the call and views of these birds arriving into the refuge is stunning, and Isenberg is one of the best places to experience this, because you can drive up, park, haul out the camera and the camp chair, and sit next to the car and enjoy it while talking to the other people show up to enjoy the show.

Every winter Laurie and I try to get up there a couple of times between Mid-november and the end of February, and for some reason this week was the week I started thinking about fall and my goals for my photography in the refuges this winter.

This is by far my favorite shot from last winter’s refuge work, and perhaps my favorite sunset shot ever taken.