Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Night Descends on the Platte River

Evening is approaching in central Nebraska and the Platte River is once again coming to life. Sandhill Cranes have stopped here on their annual migration to the northern breeding grounds.

Having spend the day foraging for food on the surrounding farm fields, the night brings them all together on this 30 or so mile stretch of the Platte River. They begin by gathering on the surrounding fields.

Masses of cranes take to the air and begin landing in the shallow waters of the Platte. It's a busy time on the river and the ever increasing number of cranes means an every increasing level of chatter.

As cranes land there are more that take their place in the sky. The cranes become a blur of activity.

Steadily the surrounding fields empty and the Platte River becomes the nightly home to a half million migrating cranes.

As darkness takes over the land and with most cranes safely on the water the night is still young.

This final 1/2 second exposure captures the active cranes as they move about the river. The noise level is very high in the late evening. It's like the cranes are sharing stories of their day with each other.

These images were made in a group blind at the Rowe Sanctuary near Kearney, NE. We had driven all day from Elk River, Minnesota and found out on the way the group blinds were sold out. But the timing was right and Travis decided to take a chance. Luckily for us there were 2 no-shows so we were able to join the group. This was my first experience taking part in this annual migration and it was a great way to start our weekend.


Note: Click on the image to see a larger version.


  1. Roger, I especially love the composition and light of your last photograph.