I am not quite as obsessed with cranes as a fishing buddy of mine is. His ringtone on his mobile is a honking crane, and often when we are fishing quietly side by side, in response to a small passing speck in the sky, he will blurt out “wattled!”, referring to his identification of the species.
But they are the most stunningly graceful birds, I will admit. Their presence on our waters is a rich blessing for reasons I struggle to describe. Perhaps it is their size, perhaps it is their muted calls, perhaps it is the rarity of them, or their sensitivity to a fast degrading environment. Either way, they are a treasure, and beautiful to behold.
We get three species in these parts:
The Blue Crane
A hand carving of the Blue Crane, completed by my father (DP Fowler) just a few weeks ago.
The wattled crane is the most rare. It is on the critically endangered list, and recent figures put the number of breeding pairs in South Africa at 250.
So when you witness this:
There is cause for a minor celebration. In fact, I think I might just have called “wattled!” when we counted 34 of these beauties in this flock earlier in the summer.