Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

May you soar through 2011

And have
Excellent health
Adequate wealth
Nothing but National Geographic quality photos
Birds and critters that pose like professional models

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

May your Christmas be all that you hope it will be

Monday, December 20, 2010


For the duration, I'll be blogging here


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day

Thank the veteran's that you know for their service...

And be thankful for those that continue to serve because they are willing to protect our freedoms.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Another Whooping Crane News Article

Yet another article about how Whooping cranes had a good breeding summer

North America’s imperilled whooping crane population — which had experts in a panic just 18 months ago after nearly 10% of the giant birds died in their wintering grounds in Texas — has rebounded after a banner summer season in Northern Canada where a near-record number of chicks were born.

The unexpected resurgence of the last surviving natural flock of the continent’s tallest bird — one of Canada’s most endangered species — has wildlife officials on the Gulf Coast in Texas excitedly awaiting this fall’s arrival of the cranes after their epic, annual flight south from Wood Buffalo National Park along the Alberta-Northwest Territories border.


“With 46 chicks fledging from a record 74 nests in August 2010, the flock size should reach record levels this fall, expected somewhere around 290,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Tom Stehn states in the latest status report on the species.

The 2010 baby boom has been attributed to ideal water conditions in Wood Buffalo, where the cranes are highly protected and carefully monitored during their annual summer stay.

This year, a number of birds was also captured and fitted with satellite tags to allow better tracking of the flock in the coming years. Individual birds can live longer than two decades.

Whooping cranes have been reported at Quivira NWR in Kansas. Hopefully, it will work out for me to go down there next week.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Record Number of Whooping Cranes

Good news for those who care about the recovery of Whooping cranes

Things are looking up for the endangered whooping crane. The bird made news two years ago when a record number of crane deaths were reported during drought conditions on the Texas coast. But according to state and federal biologists, flock numbers have rebounded, and a new record high number of cranes should start arriving on the Texas coast later this month.


According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist Tom Stehn, the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population of whooping cranes rebounded to 264 in the winter of 2009-10, back from 247 at the end of the 2008-09 winter. With 46 chicks fledging from a record 74 nests in August 2010 the flock size should reach record levels this fall — expected to be somewhere around 290. Once numbering only 21 birds on earth, the previous population high was 270 in the fall of 2009.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sandhill Cranes

If my memory serves me correctly, I arrived in Nebraska on Saturday November 3, 1990. I never intended to make Nebraska my permanent home, I viewed it as a step on a career ladder. Plans are what you make until you know what you have done. My career ladder ended here, and twenty years later, it doesn't look like any moves are in my future. That particular Saturday had been a home Nebraska football game. Colorado, if the sieve I call a memory is correct. Nebraska had lost and the mood in the long term motel I had checked into was grim. I hadn't been a follower of college football, and was perplexed by the gloom and doom. Twenty years later, I understand it fully. Failure to wear a Nebraska t-shirt or sweat shirt on game day won't get you lynched, but it certainly will draw some looks. Nebraskans are passionate about Nebraska football.

There is another passion in Nebraska. Sandhill cranes. It's not nearly so passionate, and in many ways not so nearly widespread. But it's a passion. Folks who wouldn't know a cardinal from a robin talk about "the cranes". Perhaps in part because it signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

In February and March following my arrival, people began to talk about "the cranes". I was told by more than one, everyone has to go see "the cranes" at least once.

One Sunday in early March a friend and I had an early brunch. We had nothing else pressing to do, and decided to head down to Grand Island to see "the cranes". We found some and were frustrated by our inability to see them well, so we went to the local Wally world and bought the absolute last two pairs of binoculars they had. Found out later that we had gotten what we paid for. They were really crappy binoculars. But they helped us see "the cranes" better. Took a few photos of them and of some white "ducks". The white "ducks", I was informed later were snow geese.

I didn't realize it at the time, but the calls of "the cranes" spoke to my soul. If you've ever heard their chatter, you will, most likely, understand what I mean. If you haven't had the privilege, get thyself somewhere where you can hear and see them. As soon as possible.

And so, after a couple more March trips to see "the cranes", (with my really crappy binoculars) I learned the difference between a cardinal and a robin, and oh so much more about birds and nature in general.

Why have I bothered to write all of this? Earlier this evening I read a posting on 10,000 Birds by Julie Zickefoose. Her posting is disturbing on many levels. I'm not going to excerpt any parts of her posting, partly because I would want to just repost all of it.

So just go read it. All of it. Read all of the comments too. Julie responds to the commenters and gives more information and data in the comments.

My last posting on viewing Sandhill cranes in Nebraska in March is here

Friday, August 20, 2010

Whooping Cranes Chicks Will Be Monitored

photo from Lincoln Journal Star

An article in todays Lincoln Journal Star states

...nine whooper chicks now sport high-tech bling thanks to the work of two avian scientists from The Crane Trust, a conservation organization headquartered on the Platte River near Alda.

And the project marks the first time in 22 years whooping cranes have been banded on their breeding grounds in the Northwest Territories.


The global positioning system transmitters will allow biologists to track the endangered birds as they migrate up and down the continent, revealing new information about where whoopers roost, rest and, more importantly, die.

Researchers know little about the causes of premature death for a species that can live 30 years in the wild. About 80 percent of annual crane mortality occurs during the 2,500-mile spring and fall migrations.

Much more in the article

Friday, July 9, 2010

Home, Again

Plans are what you make until you know what you have done. I was supposed to be in Seattle now, and at a family wedding on Saturday. Miz Winnie had a kerfuffle with other dogs in Dickinson, and so I decided not to go to Seattle where she would be exposed to other dogs, and potential other kerfuffles. She was, at some point before I got her from the rescue group traumatized by other dogs. Thought we were at the point were we might be past that, but, well we aren't. Going to try to find some professional help in solving this problem...

Anyway, I was flipping through the photos that I took on our travels and realized that I had not posted this photo from Fort Niobrara NWR.

It's a just out of the nest Eastern phoebe. There was at least one nestling still in the nest that the mother was feeding.

Isn't he/she cute?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fresh Out of the Camera-A Rainbow

I was sitting at the computer going through todays photos, and I looked out the motel window and saw a rainbow. Quickly took a couple of photos through the window. Then decided that wasn't going to cut it, so I quickly leashed up Miz W, and headed outside.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bowdoin NWR

Don't have a lot to show for the last couple of days. Spent part of Thursday and Friday at Bowdoin NWR in Montana. Weather and lighting were not particularly cooperative.

Did get a few shots of this American avocet. Notice the blue legs. Don't they contrast nicely with his other colors?

Black-necked stilts always seem so ungainly

Enroute to Missoula I saw this Trumpeter swans at Blackfoot WPA. There were three foraging together. A lovely sight to behold.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Medicine Lake NWR

Spent Tuesday at Medicine Lake NWR in northeastern Montana. There were lot's of Eared grebes

Here she is with her little one

Little one all by him/herself

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lake Ilo National Wildlife Refuge

Stopped by Ilo NWR Saturday.

This Willet chattered at me as I photographed him.

This Upland sandpiper was posing nicely and I was firing away with the camera when I heard a big pickup approaching. I was mumbling under my breath to myself about it as he passed by. After he was gone and I was looking at the photos I had just taken, I mumbled, thanks pickup guy, you just got me a nice one.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Spent the day, well, I guess I should say yesterday, since it's after midnight, at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is an absolutely awesome place. Most of my photos were of scenery and various mammals. Will be here a couple more days and then am heading to spots where the main focus will be birds.

A couple of posts down, I posted what I called a halfway decent photo of a Lark sparrow. Got a far better one yesterday.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Buffalo Gap National Grassland

Have been in Wall, South Dakota since Monday. Have spent a portion of every day since in Badlands National Park. I have been to the Badlands twice before. Once when I was a teenager, and then the first or second year after I moved to Nebraska. I do not remember being as awestruck by the beauty then. My photos of the Badlands are here.

I have also spent some of my time in Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. The grasslands are south of the national park. The grasslands are where these photos were taken.

An immature Horned lark is proud of the grasshopper he caught

These Lark buntings are really pretty in flight because of the white on their wings

Saturday, June 19, 2010

More Fort Niobrara NWR

Two more photos from Fort Niobrara NWR

I finally got a halfway decent shot of Ring-necked pheasant

And the treat of the day was capturing this White-tailed jackrabbit

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ft. Niobrara NWR

I spent part of my day today at Ft. Niobrara NWR. Early in the day it was extremely windy and the blowing sand was getting on and the camera gear. Birds were singing in areas, but they weren't showing themselves at all. Frustrated, I went back to the motel. Went back in the early evening and things were much pleasant.

The only halfway decent photo from the morning was of this Lark Sparrow

Afternoon photos included this Upland sandpiper

And this Common nighthawk

After tolerating me and the clicking camera, he voiced his displeasure

On The Road Again

I'm on the road again...

So as to keep this blog mostly about birds, I decided to set up a blog with mostly just scenery pictures.

It can be found here

Monday, June 14, 2010

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

Lady luck was with me this morning. Made a real quick trip up to Branched Oak Lake to see if I could find the Scissor-tailed flycatcher. It appears that she may be building a nest, as she was gathering nesting material. My photo isn't particularly good, but it does show her with nesting material. (Photo is cropped)

Here's a better picture of a scissor-tail taken in Oklahoma last year.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

More Branched Oak Lake Birds

Have been busy with the other stuff that fills one's life and haven't been getting out and about much of late. Did head out to Branched Oak Lake yesterday. There had been a couple of reports that a Scissor-tailed flycather had been seen there, so thought I might get lucky and find it too. Well, luck wasn't on my side yesterday. Maybe another day.

Did find this nesting Killdeer

And this Dickcissel

Thursday, June 3, 2010


A Viceroy butterfly taken today at Branched Oak Lake.

The Viceroy looks very much like a Monarch. There are several differences, but the two most immediately obvious are size and a a black postmedian band across the hindwing. The wingspan of a Viceroy is 2 5/8 to 3 inches, and a Monarch is 3 1/2 to 4 inches. To translate what a black postmedian band is, it's a black stripe on the lower wing. This black stripe can be faint or lacking.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Have a safe, pleasant, and bird-filled weekend.
Last but not least, remember the reason for the holiday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

More pictures from Squaw Creek.

A Rose-breasted grosbeak

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Green Heron

I went down to Squaw Creek NWR yesterday. There were lots of birds out and about in their breeding finery. I'll be posting more pictures in the next few days.

This guy, like all Green herons was really skittish, and he didn't hang around to pose for very long.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Young'uns

Have been having provider and computer issues. Think they are resolved now. Took these photos a couple of days ago. From the appearance of the "baby bird", I'm guessing it hadn't been hatched for very long. There were a couple of the little ones, and boy could they move, though one still had kind of wobbly legs.

Mamma Kildeer

He's so cute

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Summer Residents and a Migrant

Went up to Branched Oak Lake today and a couple of summer residents and one migrant chose to pose.

The summer residents:

Barn swallow

Western kingbird

The migrant:
Harris' sparrow

Monday, May 3, 2010

Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron

I decided to drive down to Squaw Creek NWR today. I'm happy I did, because I got a lifer today. Behold a Yellow-crowned night-heron.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Finally, some decent bird photos taken in Nebraska!

When I first saw this guy, I thought, oh, a Red-tailed hawk. Then as I got closer, I realized nope, an Osprey. Just as I got my camera lined up, he decided he wasn't in the mood for posing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

They've Arrived....

First goslings of the season...
Aren't they cute?
(all photos are cropped)

click on photos to embiggen