Photo of the Week – March 9, 2017

I hope I’ve made it clear through the years that I am really grateful to have my job.  During each March, one of the major perks is access to viewing blinds that allow a front row seat to watch migratory sandhill cranes on their overnight roost.  This morning, I took my wife, two of our kids, and my in-laws out to the Platte River to watch the cranes wake up.

Atticus braved a cold morning breeze in his face to watch cranes dance and loaf around before lifting off to go feed in fields and meadows for the day.

Our viewing blinds aren’t fancy, but they put you right at the edge of the river to watch one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth.

Most crane viewing tours I lead each year are for our current or prospective members and donors, and I really enjoy helping people experience one of the best migratory bird phenomena in the world – especially when our guests are seeing it for the first time.  On the other hand, it’s pretty hard to beat sharing that same experience with my family.  Did I mention how fortunate I am?

This morning provided good crane viewing (we had around 1000 cranes in front of the blind and maybe another 10,000 or more within view), but it was far from the most spectacular visit I’ve had.  The cranes weren’t close enough to our blind for me to get fantastic photos, but I played around a little with my camera anyway.  Today wasn’t about photography though, it was about family time in nature, and in that regard, it was pretty near perfect.

You can read more about the crane migration through Nebraska’s Platte River, and see many more photos, in a couple of previous posts here and here.

A couple small groups of sandhill cranes roosting in the river prior to sun-up.

Early morning silhouettes.

 

PLANT GAME RESULTS

It’s not that I’m competitive, but I’ve decided that I’ll consider it a win when more of you guess a wrong answer than the right one in our Plant Game.  Using that criteria, I won twice this week.  In the first question, Earthsmoke got the most guesses as a fake plant (35%), but it’s actually a real plant (Fumaria officinalis), introduced from Europe, and present (though uncommon) in Nebraska.  The actual fake plant was Lady-of-the-Lake, which I totally made up.  To your credit, that got the second-most votes (32%).

For the second question, the fake plant was Mountain Oats, which sounds real enough that only 32% of you guessed it was fake.  Almost half of you (47%) guessed Raccoon Grape was the fake plant, though, and it’s actually a native vine that grows in eastern Nebraska (Ampelopsis cordata).  Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of chances to redeem yourselves in the future – but congratulations to those of you who guessed right!

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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2 Responses to Photo of the Week – March 9, 2017

  1. Angela Anderson says:

    those common names are just weird sometimes, I wonder how people came up with them.
    guessed right on the second one.

  2. It’s on my bucket list to get to the Platte to see this spectacle. Thanks for sharing.

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