Night Symphony and a Close Encounter

We have learned to keep an open mind when plans don’t seem to gel as we had originally hoped, so as not to miss the beauty at our fingertips.  That was to be the case with last minute reservations made at Savannas Recreation Area in Fort Pierce, when we could not get reservations at a preferred state park.

Campground view
Campground view

Savannas Recreation Area covers 550 acres and five distinct biological territories.  Our camp site, like most, looks out onto a meandering lagoon, literally ten large steps from our door.  Trails through the prairies and marshes criss-cross the park, a beautiful, serene setting.

There is plenty to do in and around Fort Pierce, a local farmers’ market ranked second-best in the state, a historic downtown, the Navy Seal museum, and bike trails and white-sand beaches across the causeway on North and South Hutchinson Islands to while away a sunny day.

Even with much to do outside our back door, most days our contentment is found on the paths and walkways inside the campground, where we are never without birdsong, and an amazing variety of wading birds foraging or soaring overhead.  Each day as light moves to dark the night symphony builds to a crescendo, bullfrogs, a multitude of winged insects, and numerous birds joining in the chorus.  Standing outside, peering into obscurity, we feel as if in a jungle, particularly when the limpkin, a bird we have not seen since Shark Valley, joins in the ensemble.  Much easier heard than seen, it seems this beautiful bird does its best singing after dark, not that it has a great singing voice, more a loud wail or scream.  I have read that his call was used quite often for jungle sound effects in Tarzan films, sounding more like an ape than a bird.

At check-in we were told that a pair of sandhill crane were nesting across the lagoon in the marsh.  We had not seen this magnificent bird since our Yellowstone days and were excited to catch a glimpse.

One late afternoon while wandering through the park, we spotted two rather tall birds strolling up the road.  Walking quietly with camera at the ready, I was prepared for them to fly away as we moved closer, as most birds are prone to do.  Much to my surprise they continued to wander, paying little attention to us as they fed in the grasses.

These were the sandhill cranes I was hoping for.  There is no difference in appearance between a mating male and female, except that the female is a bit smaller.   These elegant birds stand 4.5 – 5 feet tall, weighing in at 10-14 pounds and are said to be fairly social.  They make a trumpeting or trilling sound that can be heard from a great distance, engaging in “unison calling”, standing close together singing a synchronized elaborate duet.  And when in the mood, they do a dance that has a gangly grace to it.  We felt fortunate that they shared all of this and more with us on this particular day.

Before out visit was over, the male allowed me to sit literally three feet from him, watching him preen, with an occasional tilt of the head in my direction as I quietly spoke to him.  Terry wished he had a camera turned on me, as the look on my face was that of pure joy.  I felt honored to be allowed so close.

At Savannas we have found serenity in the richness of nature and alluring details in the night that quite often are overlooked.  We are once again reminded of the awe inspired when we live in the moment.

Sunrise over Indian River Lagoon
Sunrise over Indian River Lagoon

68 thoughts on “Night Symphony and a Close Encounter

  • What a beautiful post. I think this has been my favorite post, since I am enthralled with sandhill cranes. Everytime I hear their calls, I scan the skies, looking for them to appear. I am so excited, that you were able to get so close to take those great pictures. It sounds like a wonderful campground and place to spend some time. I loved your sunset picture, also, by the way. I’m glad you found this place!!!

  • Savannas is one place I would love to visit. Everyday I am so amazed at the love of God for us and all the beauty he surrounds us with.

    I love the way you use the word Symphony. Even here at the Elks sitting outside during the day or night, we, too, enjoy a wonderful Symphony. Hope you keep enjoying the good life. We are so blessed to be able to live this lifestyle.

    • I so agree with you Marsha. It is wonderful to just sit and be and experience all the wonders of nature around us. In such a hectic world we are truly blessed. 🙂

  • Love the beautiful description of your surroundings and wildlife! Since we won’t be in FL again, your crisp captures/images of the area already makes me feel Im right there with you enjoying its beauty. Photography is top notch.
    That sunset is glorious!

    • Thanks so much MonaLiza! I have been feeling the same of late, knowing this will most likely be our last trek with the RV through Florida. We have slowed down a bit and are enjoying nature’s bounty around us.

  • Our first encounter with the sandhill crane was four years ago in Bushnell, FL. there were three wondering around the park. I couldn’t believe how tame they were. Just the other day there was a fellow standing in Cortez Rd. down from us. We thought what a dumb place to be crossing the road. Turns out the fellow was stopping traffic as two sandhill cranes walked VERY slowly across the road as if there wasn’t a person around. So glad this fellow was there. I am sure they would have been hit with their slow stroll and dull colors that blended into the surrounding.

    Looks like your change in plans worked out well. Nice location along the lagoon. That sunrise is spectacular. That is real keeper photo:)

    Love the caravan camper. That bed sure takes on the gypsy idea.

    • We had not seen the tameness of the sandhill crane, only experiencing them in Yellowstone. I was so amazed that he let me sit down close enough to reach out and touch him if I had wanted to.

      The gypsy camper was pretty interesting, although I don’t think I could live full-time quite that small. Ours is small enough for me! 😉

  • What a beautiful place! We’ll have to investigate Savannas for our next trip. We love the as hill cranes, too. A few weeks ago I took a picture of a pair grazing next to a Sarasota gas station. When I went by a few days later, they were there again.

    • They are beautiful birds and their calls are so distinctive. Savannas is a great little place to visit if you just want to kick back and relax.

  • You are certainly absorbing the beauty of FL. I think you could get a position with the tourism board as you paint the state in such a beautiful way! Not how most people view it.

    • We try to find the beauty wherever we are, and that can certainly be found in nature around here. Having said that, our hearts have always been out west and will likely stay there! This is probably our only big trip this far east with the RV.

  • It all looks so beautiful. Quite a contrast to our still-snow covered landscape here in PA. I enjoyed your “live in the moment” philosophy as well…. that has become somewhat of an obsession with me. Time goes too fast, and we need to enjoy each and every moment.

  • That looks like a really lovely park. I don’t know if we will ever make it to FL for the winter so it’s nice to live vicariously through your posts!

    What an amazing experience you had with the Sandhill Cranes. I can just imagine your excitement sitting there so close!

    • If it hadn’t been for Terry’s folks needing help this past summer, we would probably not be here either. We are trying to take it all in because we will probably not bring the RV back once we head back out west. Thanks for stopping by Lisa.

  • Again, thank you for sharing through both your words and lovely pictures. I too miss the Sandhills, glad you got to re-connect, they are indeed wondrous birds.

  • Oh LuAnn, what a wondrous encounter you had with the sandhill cranes — and you captured it so well to share with us. I didn’t realize this would be your only journey to Florida. Having grown up in Florida, I’m delighting in rediscovering the unique beauty here—and I also dearly love the west, which has been my chosen home for many years. I’m so grateful that we have the opportunity to travel full-time! (I definitely want to visit Savannas Recreation Area — thanks for the great tip!)

    • Laurel, I should never say never but since we love the west so much we aren’t sure we would make the trek out again in our RV, perhaps just some shorter trips as I do have a sister we are visiting right now near Orlando. I have to say we are pleasantly surprised with all that Florida has to offer. Ok, I’m already talking myself into another trip as we have yet to see the interior of the state, and of course I want to see Apalachicola again. 🙂

      • I’m still hoping we can catch up with you before you leave Florida. We’ll be leaving to head west probably in early April. Right now, we’re back in Cedar Key for a week, then back to Apalachicola. 🙂

      • We would love to catch up to the two of you but I fear we may be on opposite sides of the coast. We are currently near Titusville visiting my sister and niece and will be heading to St. Augustine on the 19th. From there we will be heading into Georgia.

  • It is such a privilege when nature allows you to get close… it is a feeling I struggle to describe to people… and I’m sure you felt the same with that crane… it is like when we get to feed Zebra or any other small animal that will take food from your hand… you cannot describe that closeness one experiences… brilliant… and I love the captures too…

    • Thanks Bulldog. I know what you mean, it is an indescribable feeling to have something wild so near to you. When I moved in close and sat down in the grass and he stayed, I was in heaven. 🙂

  • I’m in love with cranes and got goose bumps envisioning you being allowed so close to the sandhill crane. I could sense your delight.
    Those campsites look amazing. I’m happiest when parked near water and able to enjoy a gorgeous sunset like the one in your photo – great shots as usual 🙂

    • Thanks Ingrid. I knew you would like the crane as you captured them so beautifully yourself not look ago. This park was a nice little find. Looking at my last photo, it does look like a sunset but is actually a sunrise, something else you seem to see lots of. 🙂

    • Thanks Gunta! I do feel rather fortunate with the sandhill crane as they never showed up on our side of the lagoon again during our stay.

  • Your joy was expressed in every word! What a wonderful encounter with the Sandhills! Beautiful photos! We have never stayed there, but have driven through the area. We have a niece and family and a nephew that live in Port Saint Lucie and we have visited Fort Pierce with them! We have visited Nelson’s Family Farm many times and truly enjoy the Fish Dip they sell!!! It must be sad thinking you won’t travel through Florida again.

    • We too visited Nelson’s Family Farm and had the fish dip…yummy! As I said to someone else Sheila, I should never say never. We love the west so much and it would be quite a trek to bring the RV back, as we still have so much of the country to see. We have thoroughly enjoyed our experience in FL and the interior I’m certain offers much, so we will see. I don’t see us coming back anytime soon however.

  • Great shots of the sandhills LuAnn. My first exposure was on a cross-Florida bike ride. I was just down the road from M.K. Rowlings SP in central FL. I can’t believe they let you get so close. The pair I watched were 75 feet away and they were still wary. Florida is truly a birders’ paradise. ~ James

  • Whenever I get to a point that life is traveling at warp speed..I love spending time in nature. Being lulled to sleep by the sounds of nature. Nothing better. What a beautiful post and gorgeous pictures. Especially love those sandhill cranes!!

  • What a treat to be able to see these beauties up close!! And you managed some outstanding shots. Thank you for taking us along Luann.

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