Saturday, March 15, 2008
On Highways to Flyways
Today, Monkey and I joined a pair of our new-found friends for a trip out west to see one of the wonders of the natural world. This weekend marks the high point of the annual sandhill crane migration, the route of which passes right through Nebraska. From Lincoln, it is about an hour and a half out I-80 to Kearney/Grand Island, where the epicenter of the migration, the Platte River, winds its shallow way through the plains.
It was a seasonal sunny day, and our treks over the mushy back roads offered us spectacular views of numbers of flocks of cranes blanketing subbled corn fields. Many birds were within several yards of the road. It was awesome.
We drove into town for some grub at a local bistro, then headed back out to the river as the sun fell. At dusk, the birds leave the fields and roost en masse on the sand bars of the Platte. What an amazing sight, to see and hear thousands upon thousands of these reddish-grey birds, with wingspans of 80 inches, coast in to land among flocks of thousands of their fellows on the sand below. And, in the background, the orange sun setting in a pink and purple sky.
What a beautiful day.