Dawn Flight


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The general problem with dawn activities is that they generally happen at or around (and sometimes even before) sunrise. And the problem with sunrise is that it happens first thing in the morning, and we all know what the problems with mornings are. If you happen to combine said dawn activity with a winter month, well, you can see where this is going. Before this, I thought I knew was cold was. I was wrong.

The event in question is the 2009 Festival of the Cranes in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. It is an incredible–and deeply awe-inspiring–experience to watch a lot (in this particular case, “a lot” means somewhere more than you can possibly count…seriously) of geese, cranes and winged critters of all types suddenly take to the sky. The sound is like that of thunder, and a peaceful, serene pond is transformed into a storm of activity that lasts mere moments before all is quiet again.

Now, to see this, one needs to stand around for a couple of hours in the pre-dawn darkness of a cold November day, waiting. (It is almost about 1,000 degrees colder, too, when you are just standing and waiting.) You are waiting for the sun to begin to rise and the birds to take flight. You are waiting for your toes to give up and leave you in search of someplace warm. You are just waiting for things to happen. You are shivering, trying to stay warm, wondering why it is that you are there watching birds sleep, but mostly you are waiting for an extraordinary spectacle to unfold. And once it does, you realize that all that discomfort was nothing compared to what you just witnessed. And when you do, it is just…incredible.

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