Wednesday, May 8, 2013

2013 Spring Trip - Day 9 - Homeward Bound with a Sandhill Crane Stop

Saturday, March 30, 2013

After a nice 600 mile drive I find myself once again in the central fly zone for migrating birds around Kearney, Nebraska.  I arrived in time to spend a little time out in the surrounding corn fields.  As it was when I left last weekend the sky was overcast and threatening rain.


Usually when you find cranes in the corn fields the first thing you see after stopping your car is their rear end as they start walking away.  Once they decide to stop they can be quite a disctance from you so a long lens is necessary to get any kind of shot.  What's fun to watch is the antics the cranes show with each other and various materials in the fields.  They will 'dance' with each other which is part of their breeding ritual, by the way Sandhill cranes mate for life.  They often pick up a piece of corn cob or corn stalk and toss it as they jump into the air.  The two images above are pretty tight crops showing some of that fun.

I'd thought about getting one of the group blinds at the Rowe Sanctuary but decided to try a new river crossing instead.  The river upstream was wide open and a perfect spot for the cranes to roost.  I saw a crude overgrown blind off the bank so figured it was worth a try.  If the clouds would break the setting sun would be a beautiful backdrop.


I found a spot along the bank of the river and sat down trying to conceal myself, which was a useless endevor.  What I really needed was a portable one person blind, that would have been perfect.  The sun never materialized but the rain did.  As I sat by the river the rain started lightly falling and the cranes began arriving.  As they flew overhead I thought they were staging just beyond the river.  Once I'd had enough of the rain I returned to my car only to find they were landing on the river, and lots of them.

The cranes were landing to far away and the light was really low so I didn't waste any electrons shooting.  I did notice they were flying right overhead which gave me a perspective I hadn't shot before.  I was like a gunner try to shoot these guys as they flew overhead.

By now the rain is steadily falling.  I stood under the Foresters rear hatch and watched the cranes land for a bit then hopped into the car and headed to Kearney.

It wasn't the greatest photographic opportunity but I came away with a great idea.  If we get a sunrise tomorrow, which we're supposed to, this would be a great place for some front lit shots of the cranes.  I was planning on a different bridge for sunrise, one with the sun rising behind the cranes.  Once the sun get's high enough in the morning I'll head down to this bridge and finish off the morning shoot here.  If this plan works it will be a template for future trips.


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