Hubbard Fellowship Blog- Crane Commuters & Seed Stragglers

This post was written by Evan Barrientos, one of our Hubbard Fellows.  Evan is a talented writer and photographer and I encourage you to check out his personal blog. If you would like to see more of his photographs, you can follow him on Facebook.


I’m finally experiencing the much-extolled Nebraskan crane migration. Each morning, as if fleeing from the rising sun, thousands of Sandhill Cranes noisily fly west over my house as they leave their nighttime roosts on the Platte River. Throughout the day their trumpeting calls are a constant presence, and a welcome one after a winter where wind was the main sound. At sunset the cranes infallibly return from the cornfields, heading east towards the Platte. It’s a routine I’m really enjoying and trying to photograph as often and in as many ways as possible. Crane migration is so popular that many photos have become cliché, so I’m trying to put my own spin on it.


When I pull my eyes away from the sky and look at the ground, I notice how worn the old seedheads are, so ready to fade away. Most seeds have finally dropped but a few remain, as if waiting to be absolutely sure that the winter is over before leaving their cozy shelters. Yesterday, with thin clouds creating excellent light for photography, I spent about an hour using my macro lens to highlight the surprising patterns and colors in these intricate little formations. It won’t be long before I can start photographing living plants again!

Illinois Bundleflower (Desmathus illinoensis)

Illinois Bundleflower (Desmathus illinoensis)

Stiff Sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus)

Stiff Sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus)

Photo of the Week – March 11, 2016

In some ways, this is a great time of year in the Platte River Prairies – we’re gearing up for prescribed fire, and clouds of migratory sandhill cranes provide background music as we prepare our prairies for the coming field season.  At the same time, the beautiful weather over the last couple of weeks has me yearning for wildflowers, and I know it’s going to be a while before we start seeing them.  The daffodils in my yard help a little, as do the little tiny blue flowers on whatever weed it is that grows along the edge of my foundation and sidewalk.  But I miss prairie wildflowers, and we’re at least a month away from the first of those.  Temperatures in the 70’s make it feel like there should be wildflowers blooming, but no matter how long I walk through the brown grass, I still don’t see any.

Stiff sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus) in The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies back in August 2015.

Stiff sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus) in The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies back in August 2015.

So, I found comfort and joy by flipping through photos from last summer and looking at all the bold vibrant colors.  Here’s one of the images that hit me hardest as I scanned through those summer images.  Happy Spring!  (And hurry up, wildflowers!)