Friday, January 29, 2010

Wildlife Photographer Rick Rasmussen to speak

Wildlife photographer Rick Rasmussen will be at the Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center Thursday, February 11 at 6:30 p.m. to speak at our camera club. Rick has traveled all over the world capturing images of nature. He'll share what equipment he uses and highlight his technique in an open discussion format. No cost for this one, just join us and enjoy!

Rick's favorite place to photograph is in his lifetime residence of Central Nebraska where he has shared the diverse wildlife opportunities with many photographers from around the United States. Traveling to other locations to experience other fascinating wildlife and landscapes has been a dream come true. Some of these destinations include: Alaska, Yellowstone and Antarctica.

Some of Rick's photo credits include; Highly Honored Winner in Natures Best Magazine 2008 - Windland Rice International Awards Competition, Grand Prize Winner in Wyoming Wildlife Magazine 2008 photo competition, Best Of Show in Grand Island Art In The Park and Best Of Show 4 times at Stuhr Museum Wings Over The Platte Competition. He has also been published in several books and has many images in advertising campaigns.

Most recently, Rick returned from a trip to Yellowstone N.P. He is a member of Prairie Winds Art Gallery in Grand Island wher he will be holding a photography workshop later this winter.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Photography Workshop Saturday, March 20

This is going to be a great time in the field and in the classroom! With Randy Hampton leading the way, great people, great photography and the backdrop of the Nebraska's sandhill cranes, I can't think of a better way to spend a day! To sign up, just give Vicki a call at our office.

Here is the outline for the Wildlife Photography Workshop:

Hands on training and shooting.
Exposure control for low light.
Long lens photography techniques.
One leg or 3 don't forget the tripod or mono pod!
RAW or jpeg which is best.
Editing, pick your best photo and get the color correct.
Photo Field trips - farm fields and blinds.
Workshop time (class room) 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Photography crane viewing blinds in the morning (optional) and evening (included) of the workshop.
Field trip (shooting on the Center's grounds).
Lunch - bring your own brown bag or eat at the Center's snack bar.
Call 308-382-1820 to sign up.

Who is the workshop for?

Advanced amateur photographers who are ready to take thier wildlife photography to the next level. A digital SLR camera with removable lenses is recommended and a long lens of at least 300mm is best for successful wildlife photography.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rivers and Wildlife Conference in Kearney

This is a great conference with a great group of speakers, I recommend it!

Sandhill Crane Migration Focus of 40th Annual Rivers and Wildlife Celebration
by Kevin Poague, Audubon Nebraska

The 40th annual Rivers and Wildlife Celebration will be held March 18-21, 2010, in Kearney, Nebraska. Organized by Audubon Nebraska and the Nebraska Bird Partnership, the conference gathers together nature enthusiasts from across the county to witness the migration of over half a million sandhill cranes and millions of waterfowl and other birds through central Nebraska. Events include guided field trips, a photography workshop, a family fun room, and daily visits to river blinds operated by Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary for up-close views of cranes roosting on the Platte River.

Local and national speakers will present information on a variety of wildlife and conservation topics. Main speakers are Scott Weidensaul, author of more than two dozen natural history books, including Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds, a Pulitzer Prize finalist; Mike Forsberg, nature photographer and author of Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild; Ron Klataske, executive director of Audubon of Kansas; and Chris Wood, eBird Project Leader, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. More than twenty local environmental organizations will have information booths and free hands-on activities on Saturday for families.

The celebration is open to the general public. Registration materials can be found at Or contact Audubon Nebraska to be put on the mailing list:; 402/797-2301. Rowe Sanctuary has information about viewing the sandhill crane migration, 308/468-5282;

Flying with the fastest birds on the planet

This is just one of the coolest things I've ever seen. They mounted a camera on a Peregrine Falcon & Gos Hawk. I don't know how they did it but give it a look!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

March of the Cranes

If you've been around the Center in the last few years, there's a good chance you will have run into Gene Gustafson. Gene has always had a keen interest in wildlife and could be found greeting the visitors with a warm smile. Gene showed up at the Center yesterday to drop off a supply of his wares before he and his wife head south to Texas for a warmer place to winter. I was thrilled to see Gene because, as many of you know, he has been in a battle with cancer the last several months and has has something of a miraculous recovery. His health and strength have been good of late allowing him to get out and around!

We are fortunate enough to have a nice display of Gene's hand carved cranes and a few penguins in our Crimson Crown Gift Shop. He picked up the hobby at the age of 73 and has been carving for 13 years (you do the math). They are carved from catalpa wood found on his family's farm. The grove was planted years ago to provide wood for posts. The cranes are very nice and will sell for around $30. I'll look forward to enjoying both Gene and one of Gene's cranes for years to come!

The selection of merchandise like Gene's is growing every day and we are planning on having an open house the first week of March. We are also working hard on preparing for the crane viewing tours. Stay tuned for more info.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Beauty and the Beast

Greetings from Dan! Brad has generously allowed me access to his blog, and I've been itching to write a post. Frigid, windy days like this are great for bringing out the author in me.

Growing up in Michigan, I loved winter -- snow forts, snowball fights, ice skating under starlit nights. Winters in Nebraska haven't exactly compared to those I experienced as a child. Not until this one, anyway. Even a winter-lover can be tested with thirty-below wind chills! And I worry about wildlife trying to survive under such conditions. Avoiding the horned larks gathering on icy roads has been a particular challenge.

Even amongst beastly conditions such as these, we can find beauty. Driving to work this morning, I caught sight of this:

Many of you know these as sundogs; other names include parhelia and mock suns. These are caused by hexagonal-shaped ice crystals bending sunlight at a 22-degree angle. They can be seen at any time of year, but some of the most striking sundog displays I've seen have occurred in frigid conditions with blowing snow -- both of which we had in spades when this picture was taken.

Sundogs are the most common of a whole range of beautiful atmospheric phenomena involving sunlight and ice. To learn more, check out

Stay warm, and keep those birdfeeders full!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Snowin an a blowin

Another walk through the snow with camera in hand. The snow is starting to pick up a bit and covered my head and froze my bald spot. Make note- bring a warm hat next time I venture out. Needles to say, I love winter. I love the snow. Always have.

Winter and the snow is beautiful and provides a dramatic scene scape that I just cant pass up. It is good to take a break form crane tour season preparations and and just enjoy. I recommend it!

By the way, the guy with the tripod shooting the celebrate Nebraska sign is Joe Weston. He's volunteering to shoot some video around here. We're glad to have him and look forward to posting a few videos on the website and blog when he's done.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Crimson Crown Gift Shop

Well, it just wouldn't be sandhill crane viewing season without tours and a good gift shop. Shirley has been hard at work putting together a great mixture of products for our guests to buy when they visit. The shop itself is looking very good with the wooden display racks going into place today. The products will mostly be arriving next month, in tim e get them into inventory and then displayed. A well run gift shop can really be a big benefit to a nature center providing products for programs and income that is used to help operate the center itself. We will be hosting a grand opening event the first week in March to celebrate the establishment of the Crimson Crown Gift Shop!. I hope you'll stop by.