My camera gear has been getting stale lately. It’s late winter, we haven’t had much snow or ice to draw me out, and I’ve had a really busy several weeks. This week, though, I had a couple opportunities and tried to make the best of them. I nearly failed on the first one.
We had snow over the weekend and on Sunday morning I drove out to the Platte River Prairies, hoping overcast skies would lighten enough that I could photograph some snowy prairies. When I arrived, I reached back behind me to grab my camera bag, opened it up, and realized I’d pulled out all my favorite gear the previous day and put it in a different bag (took a family trip to our prairie). Then, I’d forgotten to put everything back in my main camera bag.
All was not lost – I did have a camera body (whew!) and two lenses: a fisheye lens and a long telephoto. That’s an odd combination of lenses, but since I’d driven more than half an hour in less-than-ideal road conditions, I wasn’t just going to pack it in and head home. I grabbed the fisheye lens and headed toward some trees near the river where the driven snow had created some aesthetically-pleasing lines.
I carefully checked the river to see if any sandhill cranes were hanging around. I thought I could probably crawl into a nearby viewing blind and take advantage of my long lens. No luck. All the cranes had left the river for the day. On the way back to the truck, I played around with a few prairie scenes, but eventually decided to head back to town.
I got home and grabbed an early lunch. As I was eating, the sky outside started to brighten a little, so I grabbed ALL my camera gear, and drove across town to Lincoln Creek Prairie and wandered around there. The brighter sky didn’t last long, but I managed to get a few shots and had a pleasant walkabout, regardless of photo results.
Tuesday night, I had the chance to take some supporters of The Nature Conservancy into a viewing blind to watch sandhill cranes come in to roost on the Platte River. We’re very fortunate to have a front row seat to the annual migration of sandhill cranes and their staging along the Central Platte River. Nearly 1,000,000 of them spend a good portion of March in the Platte Valley each year. It was a beautiful night, made even more spectacular by the seven whooping cranes waiting for us when we arrived at the blind. They were too far away for terrific photos, but it was really nice to see them!
As the sun set, sandhill cranes started pouring in upstream of us, dropping out of the sky against a nice orange glow near the horizon. I didn’t have my tripod with me (limited space in the blind) and I had other responsibilities (tour guide) but I did manage to squeeze off a few photos of the cranes and crane viewers.
I’m hoping to build on this week’s momentum and find some more time for photography in the coming weeks. I’ve been seeing a few more insects moving around, early (non-native) flowers are starting to bloom in our garden, and my in-laws spotted a garter snake the other day. Spring is coming!
Such wonderful photos! I haven’t been to Nebraska for the cranes since 2019. Going to Monte Vista, Colorado, next week though! Thanks for all you do.
Congrats on seeing the whooping cranes.