Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fog is Good

There are certainties in life, such as the rising of the sun and the fact that my kids make noise. Something that is not certain is that wildlife will be where you want it and when. We played a small part in a very nice photo workshop that was held this weekend in Hastings Nebraska. Part of my responsibility was to host a group of photographers to one of the Centers wildlife viewing blinds to photograph sandhill cranes and other wildlife. We set this up months ago and I knew at that time that the birds might very well not be here at this time of year as it is a bit early for dependable crane viewing.

So what do I do with twenty aspiring and advance photographers at sun-up? Why just photograph one of Nebraska’s awe-inspiring sunrise scenes. Sunrises in Nebraska are as dependable as water from your faucet. So that’s what we did minus one problem, fog. When I got up Saturday morning and hopped in my car in the pre-dawn darkness, it was fog city.

Fog is good. It’s the great equalizer. The great soft-box in the sky that gives a pleasing ethereal look to anything, especially a landscape. The winter of 2009-10 has been a bit harsher then winters of late and fog has been a frequent visitor to the landscape. Fog is good…

It was nice to spend time with a bunch of like-minded camera geeks photographing anything and everything in sight, including each other. We all put on our warm winter gear and braved the crisp morning air to capture a scene that is worthy of space on our wall. There’s always a camaraderie with a group like this that is just plain fun. We will continue to wait for the sandhill cranes to make their appearance and be ready to photograph them on their terms.

We will continue to have photographic events at the Center including a workshop with Randy Hampton on Saturday March, 20 and our prairie chicken and stars tour to Mullen Nebraska in April. Just give us a call for more details or to register.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Still frozen

The grip of winter is still firmly in place. Winter has a beauty all its own and I really appreciate it. The Nature Center is a buzz of activities and details, the press is calling and the web-site is receiving hits from all over the world with people planning their trips to the area to view cranes. it is nice to step outside and just take in the beauty.

We have a number of people coming out this coming weekend and I was hoping to give them a taste of the coming migration, but my guess at this point, we will just have to wait a few more weeks to find large numbers of birds. That's ok, all in good time.

We also had reporter Steve White from our local ABC affiliate NTV stop by for an update on preparations for the "crane season". This kind of publicity is very important to the Center to help get the word out about wildlife opportunities in the area. He was a real trooper and the weather was not the nicest it has been. Click here to link to the report. NTV had a pole that stated 30% of the local people will go and watch the cranes in some manner. I was pleased with that. We'd better get more coffee ordered!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Platte is poised and waiting for the sandhill cranes

I took a few extra minutes to photograph the Platte this morning on my way to work. The Platte has a lot of water in it right now due in large-part to snow melt. We've had a real winter in Nebraska this year, the kind we remember from when we were kids. The flows of water and ice are a key element in scouring the sandy riverbed helping to free it from vegetation.

Open channels are a welcome sign for sandhill cranes and wildlife of all kind because it creates a safe line of sight for birds to spot danger. Government and conservation groups spend a lot of time, money and effort to mechanically clear the rivers of vegetation to help mimic the Platte habitat of days gone by. Biologists do this but much of the animal behavior we see has yet to be studied to figure out optimal habitats for certain species of animals.

I have a few reports of sandhill cranes in the area but I have yet to see them first hand. Admittedly I have not spent a lot of time searching around as we have a lot going on around the Center these days. The weather feels right so I do expect more birds to make it to the area at any time. We’ll keep you posted!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We're starting to hit the news.

The local new folks start to show up this time of year. It's always appreciated and creates a little bump in interest. Here's a link for those of you who would like to watch.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Heartland RV'ers Volunteer For a Day

We had the local chapter of the Heartland RV'ers stop by for a day of volunteer work at the Center. They were able to clean, count, repair, straighten, cook and even do windows to prepare the building for the now eminent "crane season". We started the day with a program and had sloppy joe's for lunch. This type of help is invaluable to the operation of an organizations such as this. This is also a re-connect of sorts. The same group spent time in the past volunteering at the Center when it was Crane Meadows. Of the group today, half had never been here before. Most are local people and I couldn't be more pleased that they are able to find out about us and hopefully tell their neighbors about what we are doing.

If you are interested in volunteering, just give us a call so we can connect you with a training and you can join in the fun! Just fill out the form and send it to Vicki or drop it by the Center.