Sunday, April 25, 2010

Crane Season Video 2010

Never tried this tpe of thing before. Let me know if it does or does not work on your machine. Full resolution of the video is available HERE

Monday, April 19, 2010

Great Storms on the Great Plains

It's that time of year again, so buckle up and get ready to rumble!

Wednesday, April 21 at 7:00 p.m. the Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center has teamed up with NTV Chief Weather Forecaster Kent Boughton and Kearney based photographer/storm chaser Ryan McGinnis to bring you “A Quiet Rumble On The River”, an informative and entertaining look at the weather landscape of the Great Plains. This program is free and open to the public with donations gladly accepted.

Hit the jump to read more

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chicken and Stars Report

One of the things that struck me about the first chicken and stars tour was just how unbelievably beautiful the Great Plains are. Nebraska is indeed a beautiful place. It does not have the requisite mountains or large bodies of water, but it has a depth of character that can only be described as complex. The Rocky Mountains are like rock and roll and the Great Plains are like a symphony.

Photos and more after the jump

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Goodbye Cranes, Hello Chickens!

OK, sandhill cranes are still around, and we'll likely see at least a few for the next week or two. But many have left for points north, and human visitors to the center have thinned to a trickle.

By no means is it time to quit birdwatching! As the sandhills depart, the region's next avian show – the display of the greater prairie chickens -- reaches its peak.

Beginning in March, the males begin to display on their leks, or dancing grounds. Setting up individual territories, males raise their ear tufts, inflate orange air sacs and stutter-step, all while emitting a sound likened to blowing crossways on top of a soda bottle. (This behavior is known as booming.) When the females arrive, feathers can fly as the males battle one another where territories overlap.

At one time, greater prairie chickens inhabited tallgrass and mixedgrass prairie by the millions. The conversion from prairie to agriculture drastically shrank their habitat and numbers. Missouri, once nearly covered in tallgrass prairie, is now home to just 500 birds. In Illinois, prairie chicken numbers were so low that birds were brought in from other states to supplement the population and expand the gene pool.

Tallgrass and mixedgrass prairies in south-central Nebraska are a mere fraction of their former size, and prairie chickens are now found locally only in scattered locations. Fortunately, in the Sandhills region they remain relatively numerous. Here, while the chickens boom in the morning, we can view stars by the thousands at night.

So this weekend, the nature center is leading the “Chicken and Stars” Tour to Mullen, NE. Friday night we'll stargaze near Seneca before Mitch at Sandhills Motel takes us to his viewing blinds early Saturday morning.

I've only seen and heard the chickens from a distance. I can't wait to see them just a few yards from me. And the weather forecast this weekend looks very promising. If it goes well, we'll do this again next year. Wish us luck!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Still Good Viewing in April

April is one of the best times to view sandhill cranes. Here are a few photos form the last few days.