My sister, a fellow bird photographer who's familiar with the frustrations we endure, sent me this video to watch.
There's a reason things that don't go well are called a "Wild Goose Chase" and not a "Wild Turtle Chase"... bird hunts are ridiculously unpredictable.
I'm currently sitting here with a serious gash on my left calf because I was too fixated on the eagles in a nest we'd found at Reelfoot Lake than I was with paying attention to the guardrail I was trying to step over to reach a good shooting vantage point. I drug my leg over the guardrail post, giving me a much needed lesson in multi-tasking.
Two years ago an acquaintance I'd met on Facebook invited me to his farm in Dayton, Tennessee, to take photos of the sand hill crane migration that flocked to his river side property every winter. I met him at his house in Chattanooga where he presented me with a key to his farm's gate, and got directions to this bird paradise.
An hour later I reached his farm at the wildlife refuge where the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers converge. I parked my car and walked to a field near the river, looking for a small pond he'd told me about where I might see cranes landing. I found the pond at a distance and noticed there were a lot of large birds standing around and feeding on and near the water, so I decided to use a little stealth on my approach. I actually crawled on my belly the last twenty or thirty yards to the edge of the field for a good view of the "action".
After about ten minutes of focusing and shooting photos of plastic decoys he'd positioned on and near the water I realized none of my targets were actually moving, except for the ones that were bobbing around on the surface of the pond.
I had spent the better part of an hour stalking fake birds, while overhead, looking down in perplexed curiosity, hundreds of sand hill cranes flew by, probably looking for a little pond that wasn't infested with idiots and cameras.
For what it's worth, I DID get some amazing decoy pictures. And a few shots of actual living cranes.