Saturday, March 15, 2008

our final afternoon in Kearney, Nebraska

Last Saturday's afternoon was going to be our last opportunity to explore the Platter River area before heading back to Minnesota early Sunday morning. From Republican City we headed around Harlan County Lake to its south shore.

At a small marina we came upon this unusual variant of a Red-tailed Hawk, a juvenile dark morph Harlan's Hawk. It patiently allowed us to get close and shoot plenty of photos.

When we were finished, it took off.

From the south shore of Harlan's Lake (is that why the hawk was there?) we could see, just below the horizon, what looked like patches of ice. But from the noise we knew it wasn't.

As we got closer, we could distinguish what we counted to be a gazillion Snow Geese.

This seemed to be an appropriate time & place for a group photo of our motley crew. Missing are Birdchick, who was busy digiscoping the geese, and Stan, who took this picture. At the front is Edie, a wonderful 91-year old who was ahead of the rest of us wherever we went.

Shortly after we got going on some minimum, or was it no, maintenance roads we came upon this curious opossum.

At more chancey portions of the road, Birdchick got out to determine passability.

By venturing on these unmapped trails we unknowingly ended up in Kansas; here we are heading back into Nebraska.

Another prize find was this female Short-eared Owl.

With the end of the day upon us, we returned to the blinds at Rowe Sanctuary. For a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the blinds, read Birdchick's March 14, post, Not Another Nebraska Entry, on her blog.

As the sun was setting, . . .

. . . more and more cranes came in to roost.

One of the reasons why it was so great to have Stan leading us was that he often pointed out things I would have otherwise missed -- like this crescent new moon.

This smiley face expresses my overwhelming satisfaction with our trip. I strongly urge you to consider it next spring. If you have any questions about it, let me know. I hope to go again.
A major factor in the success of the trip was its leader, Stan Tekiela. You can read about him here. While you are on his site, take a look at samples of his work. It was great to get instruction from such an accomplished photographer in a small group setting. For other tours led by Stan, consult the Eden Prairie Parks brochure, in particular the Outdoor Center listings.