Friday, January 29, 2010

Hey, Miz Winnie here!
Mom turned the blog over to me tonight. She's been frustrated because she hasn't gotten many bird photos.

I have to tell a story on Mom. In the last minute flurry of leaving, she forgot to bring along a toy for me. The whole time we were in New Mexico she kept promising that she would buy a new one.

When we got to Texas she did. Wanna see me and my new toy?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

San Bernard NWR

Saturday I went to San Bernard NWR. I saw a nice number of birds. Didn't get many photos, but did get some photos of a Sora that are keepers.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sandhill Crane Migration In Nebraska

An article in the online hometown newspaper about Sandhill crane viewing reminded me that it was time to do a post about crane viewing in Central Nebraska in March. I've pulled up last years post, checked all the links, deleted a couple that no longer work, deleted some things, added some things, and, in general, done some editing.

Rowe Sanctuary is operated by Audubon. Their center is located on the Platte River and is beautifully situated. They have blinds where the cranes can be observed. Check their site for information about blinds. If for no other reason, they deserve a visit because their building is the second largest straw bale building in the United States. They also provide other information regarding crane viewing. They also have a really nice gift shop. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a dues paying member in Audubon, but otherwise unaffiliated with Rowe Sanctuary.

In past years Rowe Sanctuary had a Cranecam. I don't see any information about that on their site for this year. When and if that information becomes available, I will update this post.

Update: Crane Cam is active at the Rowe Sanctuary site.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission provides information about Sandhill cranes.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission also has some general information about crane viewing. There’s also a section on crane viewing etiquette.

The three main places to hang out during your stay are Grand Island, Hastings, and Kearney.
The visitor’s bureau for Grand Island
The visitor’s bureau for Hastings
The visitor’s bureau for Kearney (has a crane video)

My personal preference is to stay in Kearney, but there are good reasons to stay in Grand Island or Hastings.

For a birding enthusiast there’s much more going on. Seven to ten million Snow geese, Canada geese, and ducks pass through the area. Other migrating birds are starting or are in the middle of their migration.

Nebraska Birding Trails has oodles of information of birding throughout the state. If you doubt that there are places to bird in the area, these two maps will dispel that notion. Maps are here and here. (pdf)

The Nebraska Flyway site was new last year, and when I pulled it up a little bit ago, I spent a fair bit of time there. I think it is probably the most comprehensive site of all the sites highlighted in this post. If you click on only one link, that's the one. has printable maps of the Platte River viewing sites, of a tour of the Western tour of the Rainwater Basin and of the Eastern tour of the Rainwater Basin. (all maps pdf) More information about the Rainwater Basin. Last year I followed the prescribed routes on both maps and I thought it was a very organized way to tour the area. As you go from county to county, roads names change, and these maps cover the road names very well. Conditions in these areas vary from year to year based on the amount of rain or snow we have had. Many of the roads are county roads (read gravel) and their conditions will also vary according to weather conditions.

Both Rowe Sancturary and Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center (formerly known as Crane Meadows) have blinds where you can watch the cranes come in at night, and leave in the morning. If you have never experienced one or the other, I heartily recommend doing both at least once. It is a sensory experience that, in my opinion, is unparalled.

Also, Fort Kearney State Receation Area has the Fort Kearney State Recreation Trail. There is a bridge over the Platte River that is excellent for watching the cranes come to their nighttime roost. It’s also an excellent place for sunset pictures over the Platte River. A daytime stroll on this path will usually offer the opportunity to see songbirds.

It can be wickedly cold in Nebraska at this time of year. Don’t forget your longjohns and bring clothes you can layer. Weather can be unpredictable. Sunshine and in the 50’s one day, snow the next day, and everywhere and anywhere in between.

For your viewing pleasure: A You Tube Video of Sandhill cranes near Fort Kearney State Recreation Area and of thousands of geese on lake behind Grandpa's Steakhouse located south of I-80 in Kearney. The video is from March 4, 2009.

Just to add a little spice to the viewing....The past couple of years a Common Crane has been spotted. The Common Crane is not considered to be a North American bird. It breeds in wetlands of northern parts of Europe and Asia.

Photos of 2009 Common Crane can be seen here

A photo of the 2008 Common Crane was on Birdchick's blog

I hope you find these resources helpful. If there is something else that you feel could or should be covered, feel free to leave a comment. I’ll keep an eye on the comments section and respond.

Last but not least, thanks for stopping by my corner of the world. If you come to see the awesome wonder of the crane migration, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

UPDATE: Thanks to the Nebraska Birding Partnership for the shout out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

First Day On Texas Coast

My first day on the Texas coast didn't yield much photo wise. I was short on all sorts of supplies, so I decided that took first precedence. When you travel with a dog, meals consist of fast food and what you can fix in a microwave in the motel room. In an effort to eat in a somewhat healthy way, I am trying to buy stuff that I can fix in the microwave. Once I get to Rockport and have a kitchenette with a real stove it will be the meantime....

Went down to the beach at Quintana for starters. Wanted to sit by the ocean. Having grown up and lived a good portion of my life on the west coast, I miss the ocean. This is the only photo from there.

Herring gull

Went over to Brazoria NWR. By the time I got there it was early afternoon. Not exactly prime bird watching time. Saw a nice number of birds, but most were out of range of the camera.

Black vulture

Friday, January 22, 2010

One Last Post From Bosque del Apache

Have arrived on the Texas coast and hopefully I'll soon be posting pictures from here. In the meantime, a couple more pictures from the Bosque.

Mule Deer

I've started using Smugmug as my photo hosting site. The remainder of my Bosque del Apache photos are as follows:

Sandhill Cranes

The other birds of the Bosque

The scenery of the Bosque

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Even More Bosque del Apache

Will be on the Texas coast in a couple of days.

These guys are so much fun to watch.

Monday, January 18, 2010

More Bosque del Apache NWR

Have spent the evening fighting a slow wifi connection from the motel, one photo site that went down, and a second photo site that was/always is slow. Frustration has abounded!

Northern pintails

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bosque del Apache NWR

Spent yesterday at Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico.

Monday, January 11, 2010

More 2009 Favorites VII

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Scissor-tailed flycatcher
Taken September 2009
Washista NWR

I had never seen a Tawny Emperor before. Both photos taken at Washita NWR in September 2009.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

More 2009 Favorites VII

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Niobrara River at the entrance to Ft. Niobrara NWR
Taken September 2009

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Overlooking Ft. Niobrara NWR
Taken September 2009

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More 2009 Favorites VI

It was an overcast day at Quivira NWR and these pictures are a little dark as a result, but this little Pied-billed grebe was quite animated.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

More 2009 Favorites V

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Great egret
Taken September 2009
Cheyenne Bottoms WMA, Kansas

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Great egrets
Taken September 2009
Cheyenne Bottoms WMA, Kansas

Thursday, January 7, 2010

More 2009 Favorites IV

More snow here yesterday and it's bitterly cold out there. Not a cold as it is to the north, but still cold!

Both of these were life birds for me

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Gray-headed junco
Taken May 2009
Oliver SRA
Southwestern Nebraska

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Rock wren
Taken May 2009
Taken near Chimney Rock National Monument

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More 2009 Favorites III

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White ibis
Taken February 2009
San Bernard NWR

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Laughing gull
Taken February 2009
Port Lavaca, Texas

Monday, January 4, 2010

More 2009 Favorites II

A couple more favorites

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Long-billed curlew
Taken February 2009
Aransas Pass, Texas

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Taken February 2009
Surfside Beach, Texas

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Some Favorites from 2009

Thought I would, for the next few days, post a few of my favorites from last year.

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American white pelican
Taken February 2009
Fulton, TX

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Brown Pelican
Taken February 2009
Port Aransas, TX

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Sunrise on the way to Quivira NWR
Taken in November 2009

May 2010 and the new decade bring you and yours
Excellent health
Adequate wealth
Nothing but National Geographic quality photos
Birds and critters that pose like professional models