- Yellowstone In Winter
- Animals/Birds of the Badlands, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks 2016
- National Parks Landscapes 2016
- Animals of Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands 2014
- Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands Landscapes 2014
- Animals of Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands 2012
- Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands Landscapes 2012
- Animals of Yellowstone 2011
- Yellowstone/Tetons Landscapes 2011
- Yellowstone Textures
- Custer State Park, SD
- Great Smoky Mountains NP
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Utah National Parks
- About Me
Sandhill Cranes at Sweet Marsh, Bremer County, IA. I'm missing out on a trip to central Nebraska this year, so I won't get to see the huge crane migration, But it is nice to see Sandhill Cranes in Iowa. We saw and heard several pairs while paddling the marsh last week. (This photo is heavily cropped - they were way out over the marsh when I took this photo)
A few of the paddlers on our Sweet Marsh float organized by Crawdaddy Outdoors. The first of several Tuesday evening floats this year.
This has been a multi-year project, with several trips to the Platte River area in central Nebraska to photograph Sandhill Cranes. My trips have primarily been for still photography, but I would usually try to shoot some video as well, when I remembered. Many of the videos were from blinds at the Crane Trust Nature Center near Alda, NE, and the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary near Gibbon, NE. Others from the roads in the area. It is a wonderful experience in the late Winter and early Spring to see hundreds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, and if you are lucky maybe an endangered Whooping Crane.
Here is a short video compilation of several trips.
I have made multiple trips to central Nebraska over the years to photograph Sandhill Cranes. This year was a late spring in the area and the cranes didn't come in to the Platte River until late and bunched up more than they have in years past. There were record numbers at one time estimated at around 650,000 cranes the week that I was there the last week of March. It is always an amazing sight to see and hear, even more so when there are so many. The have an interesting dancing ritual where they puff their chest out, spread their wings and jump straight up in the air - often chest to chest with another crane. This can be territorial, establishing social relationships and/or bonding. See the last three photos and the video below.
[Click images to see larger]
Video of Sandhill Cranes dancing:
Well, I had to go to Nebraska again to see the incredible Sandhill Crane migration. When I was there last week they were estimating around 600,000 cranes in an 80 mile stretch of the Platte River between Overton and Chapman, Nebraska, the most ever recorded, and there was some speculation that this number was low (read more). It is quite an experience to see and hear tens of thousands of cranes as they fly to the river where they roost at night and then out to the corn fields to feed during the day. I have been there many times and taken lots of photos, but I always enjoy the spectacle.
(Click images to see larger)
Take a close look at this one. There is one Crane swimming upstream. Or perhaps playing chicken with the others? Well, they were flying in every direction.
When I am out photographing birds, wildlife and landscapes I occasionally shoot some video at the same time. Here is a little video sampler of some of our photo adventures over the past few years. The still photos can be found throughout this web site.
I gave in. I finally decided to post some pictures on Facebook also. Go to my Facebook page then click the Like or Follow button and you can stay updated on some of my photo adventures. Of course you will need to log in to Facebook to see them. -
Click for more Snow Geese photos
The last week of December we stopped for a short time at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of Albuquerque, New Mexico to see and photograph the spectacle of the pre-sunrise "blast off" of thousands of Snow Geese and to photograph Sandhill Cranes. (My blog posts aren't chronological. I share a few photos when I get around to editing them.)
We arrived in the dark, and set up our cameras and tripods along with dozens of other photographers as the sky was just starting to get some light on the horizon. Then we waited. The Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes roost in the ponds over night and at some time before sunrise (no one knows when) there is some signal among the geese and all at once they "blast off" heading to nearby fields to feed during the day. The whole event lasts about 25 seconds so you need to be ready to take pictures in a split second (see the video below). It is quite a sight.
Click for more Sandhill Crane photos
Meanwhile the Sandhill Cranes, also roosting with the geese, could seemingly care less. Many never taking their head out from under their wing to see what the commotion is all about. The cranes take their time waking up and gradually in small flocks fly off to the fields to feed. They are majestic birds, almost prehistoric (I may have made the same comment about Great Blue Herons). We drove around the refuge and found several places where we could photograph the cranes and geese flying and feeding. [More...]
Video of thousands of Snow Geese at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge:
Last weekend, in an impromptu moment, I decided to go to Nebraska to see the Sandhill Crane migration. It was awesome! Every year, for perhaps thousands of years, hundreds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes stop for a few weeks during their spring migration along a stretch of the Platte River around Grand Island and Kearney, Nebraska. They roost on the sand bars of the river at night, fly out to the corn fields to feed during the day and return to the river in the evening. It is quite a spectacle at sunrise and sunset to see and hear the thousands of birds. There were several places along the river to stop and watch the birds, but the better viewing and photography opportunities were in the group blinds that were reserved through the Nebraska Nature and Visitor Center near Alda, NE; or the Rowe Sanctuary near Gibbon, NE. There are probably other viewing blinds as well. I was taking pictures on a public platform near the Rowe Sanctuary Friday evening, but the birds coming in to land made a sharp turn away as soon as they saw people. There were still tens of thousands within viewing distance, but not real close.
In the morning I was in a group blind with about 12 other photographers. We went out before sunrise and took pictures as the sun came up and the birds gradually flew off in small groups to go out and feed. It was here that we also saw one Whooping Crane, way across the river. They stand over five feet tall and have a seven foot wingspan (see the photo below). I have heard that there are less than 500 wild birds in North America. During the day I drove the backroads looking for the cranes in the fields but they stayed a healthy distance from the road making it difficult to take pictures. Since the Sandhill Cranes are hunted in nearly every state but Nebraska they know to stay away from people. Saturday night I was in another group blind with an opportunity to take sunset photos as the birds flew in to roost by the tens of thousands. The weather was beautiful and it was a great photo weekend. I'm anxious to go back again. [More Sandhill Crane Photos here...]
Just a few notes about my photos. See more on Facebook.