Sandhill Crane Portrait

We decided to go on a quick trip to Florida to one of our favorite NWRs, Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in DeLeon Springs, Florida. We were only there for a few days, but it was an amazing spot for photos of wildlife and landscapes. The Sandhill Cranes and River Otters were not disappointing! As we were walking the trails, Sandhill Cranes would land right in front of us giving us fantastic photo opportunities. Sometimes it was strange to have them land & walk right up to you. They would just stare at you checking you out! We were traveling light and most of the time I was using a 300mm or a 150-600mm lens. For detail or landscapes I used my iPhone 11Pro. Since I was traveling light, a lot of my images of Sandhill Cranes I had to shoot a series of images for a panorama to get the whole Crane in. Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge is not one of the NWRs that gets a lot of visitors or attention. You are pretty much on your own except for a few locals walking or birding there.  But for us it is one of our favorite NWRs to visit. It does not have a visitor center and has a small parking lot down a small road that is only wide enough for 1 car. So if you meet someone going the other way you have to pull over so 1 can pass. The 22,000-acre refuge contains a myriad habitats: among them are marshes, swamps, creeks, hammocks and uplands. We only found it years ago because there was an accident on Route 95 that closed the highway overnight. So we had to stay at a motel and at breakfast the waitress asked where we were going. We said we were going to Ding Darling NWR for photography and she said we should go to Lake Woodruff NWR and might like it better. She was right! Sometimes you really feel quite alone when walking the trails, except for the wildlife.Sandhill_Cranes_Portrait_v1_LW__7D_300mm_MG_7978

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12 Comments on “Sandhill Crane Portrait

  1. What a great image, Reed! This is not far from Ocala, where my sister lived for 20 years, as well as now a niece. Haven’t been there in a long time. Wish I knew about it when I did visit back then!

    • Thanks Eliza! It is a great place to photograph! Plus it is not crowded and has a lot of photo opportunities! From Wildlife to Landscapes, you have plenty to see and photograph!

    • Thanks Belinda! It is a wonderful place for photography! Plus it is not crowded with people all taking the same shots like at Ding Darling NWR.

    • Thanks Donna! It was a spur of the moment trip. Many of my Sandhill Crane images are 3 to 8 image panoramas because they were so close and I was using a 300mm lens. I had to photograph them in sections and combine them in Photoshop! I will be posting them soon. In some ways it is also a little eerie to be in such a large preserve with almost no one around. When we first got there we were walking the trail and 2 cranes landed 6 ft from us and started mating! Then they followed us around for a while checking us out. Sort of strange and Erie feeling having them walk up to you and get within a foot or 2. That close they are one BIG Bird!

      • I’ve had them come near me years back, I was actually worried one might attack me too. Yes they are one big bird! Nice to be at the preserve with no one around. I’ve found places down here in the Everglades no one frequents, and right now there are a ton of people around at the main spots!

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