My wife and I visited some of the 500,000 migrating cranes near Grand Island, NE, and along the Platte River. They winter in Mexico and Texas, then funnel through a roughly 50 mile stretch of sandbars and corn fields between Grand Island and Kearney. Something like 70% of the world's sandhill cranes are here, and they are one of the few stable crane populations globally (and also can live to be 20). They end up nesting all over Canada, up to the Arctic Circle, then over to Alaska and across to Russia. For several weeks they fatten up on leftover corn, from early March to early April, then are gone. The time to see tens of thousands at once is at dusk or sunrise as they roost along the Platte, but we got to see thousands anyway in the early afternoon. Check out the Rowe Sanctuary crane cam
around 7:30 am and pm central time to see, and hear, the massive flocks along the river.
So here are some of the over 200 pictures I took. First time I visited the cranes, having lived in Nebraska for eight years now (whoa). Grand Island is only 90 miles west, luckily.
|Look at those guys to the right of the tree!|
|All day cranes were in fields full of center pivots, silos,|
tractors, cows, and stacks of pipe. The juxtaposition
was never so evident to me. Viva cranes.
My wife got out of the car, trying to sneak up on cranes along the road. She got close to one group, then they took off. Got close to another, then they took off. We got no closer than 100 feet. The best thing to do is step on the gas and fly over the culverts into fields, whip out the camera, and in those two seconds snap pics like you've never snapped before. I did not do this, as we were driving my wife's car....
|Pairs of cranes argue, moon me, and kiss|
|I really like this image.|
|"The court order says you must stay this far away from me."|
|The cranes would often leap up into the air and flap|
their wings, settle, and leap again as if
on trampolines. Show offs? Territorial? Courting?
|Ran across this (odd) historical marker --|
click on it and read!
All day as we drove along back country roads, drivers in passing cars would wave to me, and it seemed odd. Did they know I was not from here? Is that just what you do? They always waved. You know, leaning back, one hand on the wheel, so two or three fingers is all I got. Still, in the "big city" you don't see that, we use one finger, but I got used to waving back--two or three fingers, one hand on the wheel, the other clutching my heavy SLR camera like an excited dog who wanted to leap out the window. From now on I'm going to wave to the 100 cars I pass on my way to work every morning.