Friday, March 27, 2009

heading home

It was our last day in Kearney. Wanting to put every possible minute to use, some of us, with Stan's encouragement, decided to walk from our motel to a nearby bridge before sunrise. We knew there would be cranes on the islands below us. But how do you take photos in the dark? You start with the moon.

Pointing the camera to the east, this was the best I could do.

As the sky began to glow brighter, we could make out large numbers of Sandhills quite close to us.

Well before sunrise, they took off. The sound of their calls cannot be described -- you have to hear it -- you have to feel it -- the word primeval comes to mind.

At sunrise, having finished breakfast, we boarded our bus to head home. Stan was good enough to drive east on the nearby country roads rather than immediately taking to the Interstate. This would be our last chance to photograph the Cranes.

The warm morning sun painted this beautiful Sandhill with a golden glow.

Some were in the fields looking for grain.

Others were busy doing their courtship rite thing -- very busy!

We saw many huge flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and wondered whether they would beat us home.

This is our motley crew at a lunch stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa -- all except Tom, who took the photo and gave me permission to post it. It was a wonderful birding/photography trip with a congenial group of folks. The credit for organizing this successful adventure belongs to Stan Tekiela (the fellow in green with the sun glasses). For information about Stan and future trips, check out his web site here . I also want to thank Amber (2nd from the right), a graduate student and employee at the Raptor Center, for her extensive knowledge and willingness to help us identify birds (especially raptors) and learn about them.