Saturday, March 27, 2021

Sandhills and Skunk Cabbage

Returning now to our Sunday afternoon drive, we turned left at the end of the Lower Valley Road and headed up Bowles Hill and then up the 7th Line.  We were going hunting for Sandhill Cranes and Skunk Cabbage and we kept an eye on all the fields as we drove along.

We crossed the Beaver River first, which we had been following since the start of the Lower Valley Road.

We soon came to the little patch of wetland where we knew Skunk Cabbage could be found.  A  little snow left here.

Can you see them - little green and purple spikes just up out of the ground 2 or 3 inches?

Here are a couple of photos from a few years ago, back in the days when I could get out of the car and into the wetland to get closer shots.

The protective outer purple shell enclosing the flowers is called the 'spathe', and the inner fat stem bearing the tiny yellow flowers is the 'spadix', certainly unusual as flowers go!
We kept on down the gravel road, at this point stopping with the windows down to listen for Sandhill Cranes.  We've heard them here before.

Around the corner and north we came to the uppermost stretch of Wodehouse Creek.  It rises in a huge spring 200 yards to the west of this bridge.  To the east it flows into the huge Wodehouse Marsh.

Immediately to the north we stopped to listen again.  This is the very first spot where I heard them in Ontario.  After a moment or two, lo and behold, out of the shrubby swamp came their haunting cries, probably a pair, already preparing to nest.  Their call is very unusual, said to resemble a bugle and instantly recognizable once you've heard it.

Here's a photo from 2 or 3 years ago to show you the size of the cranes.  They are more commonly seen in the west; I first saw them in Vancouver.  But they've been spreading east and are more frequently seen in this area now.  We do see thousands when they migrate in huge flocks back south in the fall.


  1. Our skunk cabbage look very different, but they are both coming up right now, it seems. I'll have to go do some research about the differences. Love those sandhill cranes. :-)

  2. On our walk this morning I saw some yellow/lime green Skunk Cabbage and now I see your area had dark redddish plants. I was surprised to find out that there is Eastern Sunk Cabbage and Western SC.

  3. The skunk cabbage around here have big green leaves and I've never seen them with flowers.
    Those cranes are so cool.

  4. that's a great picture of them, hopefully you will get to recreate it soon!! i don't see them where i am, so it is nice to see them here on your blog!!

    it's wonderful that you and the mrs. get out for drives. the hubs takes me out also, i like the random ones, without a real destination!! enjoy the rest of the weekend!!

    1. and thanks for the comment on my knitting...i realize it's not really a guys thing!!!

  5. Those cranes are quite a size aren't they!

    All the best Jan

  6. I've seen the cranes in Florida but never up here!

  7. I’d love to see the cranes. Their sound is unique for sure.

  8. Great Scenery but we don't have Skunk Cabbage around here.
    First saw Sandhill Cranes in Florida. Their call sends a chill up your spine.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  9. I have seen those cranes in photos, but I haven't either them of the cabbages AFAIK in real life.

  10. I've seen those little red things and wondered what they were.

  11. I've seen skunk cabbage after it was pointed out to me. Interesting plant.

  12. Thinking of you this morning when I saw this photo on my Flickr Friend's stream

    Scroll back from there. He has 3 others in the past week.

  13. Haven't seen any skunk cabbages yet but my nose is on full alert while walking in swampy areas.

  14. Good finds, you got them both. To me it's much more satisfying to hunt with a camera rather than a firearm (I've done both) -- it's legal 365 days a year,and other people can enjoy the bird, mammal or flower that you've captured.

  15. Skunk Cabbage is abundant around here and has been for a couple of weeks.

  16. I don't believe I've ever seen a skunk cabbage. Sandhill cranes, yes, but not for many years. I really need to get out of the city more.

    Thanks for sharing your photos. Take care, stay well.

  17. Well done! I've not heard of the skunk cabbage. I've led a sheltered life!

  18. I don't know the kind of crane that it is but the sand hill cranes that travel through Nebraska are probably flying through right now.