Crane Season

Every year the sandhill cranes arrive on their annual migration from the southern U.S. and Mexico to the northern tiers of Canada and Alaska. And every year I trudge out to find out if I’m any sort of wildlife photographer. Turns out I’m not.

It’s not that I can’t get a good shot of cranes. But the most interesting pictures are when they’re on the roost in the middle of the Platte River. I’ve only ever awoken at 4 a.m. to crawl into a blind once. I took some decent photographs, but nothing that really stands out as something interesting and different. So most years I drive around trying to photograph them while the feed in the area fields, mostly amidst the corn stalk stubble, where they forrage for leftover corn from the previous year’s harvest. And I get acceptable shots.

For this one picture I was able to drive up on the shoulder of the road to where the cranes were pretty close, seeing as I was carrying a 400mm lens with a doubler. The lines of the field created nice backdrop and the crane in the middle kept looking up while walking away from me with his buddies. Not too bad, but it doesn’t match the work done by Michael Forsberg or my friend Rick Rasmussen.

The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote

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Over Christmas my wife and I escaped the cold snap and blizzard of Nebraska to visit my folks in Albuquerque, NM. We’ve been down there a few time so we are familiar with much of the wildlife.  (I can say though I haven’t seen any tarantulas, rattlesnakes or scorpions.) Common in the area are road runners.  Now, being old enough to have enjoyed the cartoon, I thought they stood pretty tall. They don’t.  They’re small and as long as Wile E. Coyote (or my parents’ dog, Nina) is in the house, they aren’t afraid to come up to the house.  Thus this cute shot of one on a rock.

However, after seeing Nina through a window this is what happened. Now I’ve heard of animals puffing up to make themselves appear bigger and unswallowable, but I’d never heard of a bird doing it.  Pretty cool.

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Highway 34 — Signs

Yeah, I know it’s a sign picture.  There sorts of pictures ususally don’t work for me becuase you are relying on the sign to carry the photo.  For this image though it’s exactly what I wanted to show. Driving along Highway 34 (and many other off the beaten path roads) I’m struck by how often there are signs trying to point you back to the faster road. Back to the way everybody else goes. Yes, they need to be there. Maybe just not so insistent.

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Highway 34 — Ready for Harvest

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Barring the Sandhills, driving across Nebraska you can’t help but see fields and fields of corn stretching over hills and to the horizon. It’s the country’s #3 state in corn production, and leads the country in irrigated acres. (Nebraska Corn Board) Corn for grain makes up more than 20% of the total ag production economy of the state.

All that means is that I can’t drive along Highway 34 without taking pictures of corn.  This fall has been tough for farmers to get into the fields. With a colder than normal October, the corn couldn’t dry. This pushed harvest into November and the crop making the crop more susceptible to disease and fungus.

So an ear in a field ready for picking  in late October is the photo.