Stopped by Maxwell Arboretum earlier today. The crocus are in full bloom, the daffodils are beginning to bud out, and the tulips are coming along nicely. Aaaah spring! Finally!
The honey bees were busy also.
The Lincoln Journal-Star had a front page article about Sandhill cranes this morning.
NEAR GIBBON - Doing the crane thing required a serious commitment from Jim and Edna Huggett.
The Marshall, Wis., retirees drove nearly 600 miles, woke a couple of hours before sunrise and endured a chilling walk to arrive at a blind along the Platte River in central Nebraska.
At first, they and 26 other crane tourists could just barely make out gray avian shapes in the twilight. But as darkness retreated, a gauzy light revealed clusters of sandhill cranes up, down and across the wide, shallow channel of the Platte.
They numbered in the thousands.
A chorus of calls grew in volume with the gathering dawn. Then, without warning, a clutch of cranes upstream from the blind lifted off, peeling downstream birds with them like gift wrap. The chorus turned into a roar not dissimilar to the sound that follows a touchdown at perpetually sold-out Memorial Stadium.
Taking a break from birds....
Saw a few mammals at Aransas NWR. First up is this Raccoon eating some bread in a picnic area.
Of all the birds on the Texas coast, the Brown pelican has to be the easiest to photograph. They seem to not be afraid of humans, so it is easy to get close to them to photograph them, and because they are large, you really don't have to get very close.
In the early 1970's they were placed on the endangered species list. The shell of their eggs were being weakened by the effects of DDT. This was a particular problem for them because they do not incubate their eggs like most birds. Most birds sit on their nests, Brown pelicans incubate their eggs by standing on them. They were removed from the endangered species list late last year.
All creatures, including us humans, are opportunistic. Brown pelicans seem to take it to a completely different level. I have often observed them standing just a few feet away from a fisherman, waiting, hoping for a handout. This series of photos was taken just below a fish cleaning station. They were being amply rewarded for their opportunism.
While I was on the Texas coast I had the privilege of seeing and photographing some Whooping cranes.
Going to wrap up the shorebirds with this post.
First up is a Willet
Two of the busiest shorebirds are the Sanderling and the Ruddy turnstone.
The Sanderlings seem to be almost continuous motion. There is usually a small group of them and they dart back and forth. They will forage in an area and then for no apparent reason they will fly off down the beach. There is actually a purpose to it. They are seeking stranded mollusks or crustaceans which have been left behind by receding waves.
Nebraska weather is a shock to the system after a month and a half on the Texas coast. Hit dense fog about 80 or 90 miles from home. Because of the fog it was a bit difficult to see some things, but there is still some snow in shaded areas and areas where the snow has melted looks pretty sloppy. Couldn't see very far down country (gravel) roads, but they looked pretty muddy also. I would suspect most of the farmers are hoping for some dry, warm, and probably windy weather, so that their fields will be dry enough for planting, when that time comes around. Alternatively they might have to consider planting rice this year!
I spent a day at Padre Island National Seashore in mid-February. The National Seashore is at the north end of Padre Island. I captured this Long-billed curlew foraging.
I had spent the day at Goose Island State Park and as I left the park I decided to check out the surrounding area. The tide was out and I spotted this Muscovy duck at waters edge.
Don't know why, but it always suprises me how small a Tricolored heron is. Found this guy one day when I was exploring back roads that weren't on any of the birding "hotspots' lists. Some days you do better finding your own "hotspots".