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Posts tagged “Sandhill Cranes

Nebraska Sandhill Crane Migration

Made my second annual trip to Nebraska to see the Sandhill Crane migration along the Platte River in Nebraska.  Had a great time last year and had to try again.  It was peak timing with over 200,000 Sandhill’s estimated to be in the area.  Worked a 20 mile stretch of dirt back roads south of the Platte river east of Kearney, NE for 2 1/2 days.  Only had one day of sun but it was tough shooting during mid-day with the sun out.  It was a little chilly in the mornings with temp’s in the 20’s (deg F).

One lesson learned was that I should have taken my beanbag on this trip as my arm got worn out with handholding my 500mm lens out the car window for most of the trip.  Took my tripod but didn’t use it as I opted to hand hold my 100-400 lens while on the railroad bridge over the river at sunrise and sunset.  Ended up getting some decent sunset shots that I’ll post later.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter, handheld

This Sandhill was being praised as he was getting ready to stick the landing.

1/800 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation, 700mm

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Mating dances were going on all around me, which was fun to capture.

1/800 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation, 700mm

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1/1000 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation, 700mm

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Some Cranes would pick up corn stalks from the ground and through them up into the air.  Got several shots of this behavior.

1/1250 sec @ F13, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation, 700mm

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Foggy Sunrise

One more Nebraska Sandhill Crane photo for the road.  Taken after sunrise over the Platte River in cool 16 deg F weather.  The Sandhill’s launched before sunrise with some coming back to the river for some final photo op’s.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head

1/800 sec @ F9, ISO 400, evaluative metering

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Dancing Sandhill Cranes

To round out my Nebraska Sandhill Crane posts, the most fun was watching these birds do their mating dances.  They would bow down and then jump into the air for all to see.  Some would pick up corn stalks and throw them up into the air.  The fields were full of Sandhill’s jumping all around.  Good times.  Just wish that I would have had my new camera on this trip.  Can’t wait to go back next year.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II out the car window

1/500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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1/400 sec @ F5.6, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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1/640 sec @ F7.1, ISO 400, evaluative metering

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1/400 sec @ F5.6, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Sandhill’s in Love

These two Nebraska Sandhill Cranes were staying close together, which made for a good photo op.  They mate for life and put on quite a show with their mating dance, which I’ll share more photos of that ritual in my next post.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm  F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter out the car window

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F5.6, evaluative metering, 700mm

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Sandhill Wingspan

Spent several hours driving the dirt roads paralleling the Platt River in Nebraska where the Sandhill Cranes were feeding in the surrounding corn fields.  With about 175,000 Sandhills in the area, there were plenty of photo op’s.  This one had his full wingspan on display.  Had some clouds which ended up being a blessing with the color in his feathers coming out.  This nearly full framed shot is one of my favorites.  Taken handheld out the car window.  Some were too close and I should have taken off the teleconverter but didn’t want to take the time to do it.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x III teleconverter, handheld

1/400 Sec @ F5.6, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation.

 

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Sandhill Crane Migration

I’ve always heard about the great photo op’s of Sandhill Cranes in New Mexico in Nov/Dec but never much about the migration back to the great white north in the spring in Nebraska.  From Feb through April, 80% of the Sandhill Cranes in the world migrate through Nebraska and forage along the Platt River between Grand Island and Lexington, Nebraska.  They feed on the waste grain in the corn fields to increase their body weight by about 20% before heading north to breed.  They migrate to Canada, Alaska and even as far as Siberia based on tracking devices placed on some of the birds in Nebraska.

From seeing thousands of Sandhill’s feeding and dancing in the corn fields to tens of thousands of them landing and taking off from the river, it was an amazing time to be in Nebraska.  The sights and sounds were incredible.  More photos to follow.  I’ll have to figure out how to post a video so that you can hear them talking off at sunrise.

Taken with Canon 7D and  Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens and 1.4x III teleconverter

1/640 sec @ F7.1, ISO 400, evaluative metering, handheld out the car window

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1/400 sec @ F7.1, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, handheld out the car window

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1/250 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering

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Avocet just Chillin

The last few weeks have been a challenge so it was good to get out again to take some shorebird photos, although the alignment of the stars must have been off yesterday.

While driving to Galveston, an electronic sign along the interstate showed that the ferry to Bolivar was going to be shutdown from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., which meant that I could get to Bolivar but couldn’t return on the ferry.  A two-hour drive home going around Galveston Bay was the alternative.  Turning around wasn’t an option as it was going to be low tide at Bolivar and the shorebirds were calling.  Although I had spent quite a bit of time the night before getting prepared for this excursion, I decided at the last moment in my infinite wisdom not to take my camera bag.  It’s too small to hold my 500mm lens when the 1.4x is attached.  Bad decision as my supply of CF memory cards were in that bag.  Luckily there was one 32 gig card in my camera that was enough to get me through the mornings shoot.  Arrived at Bolivar before sunrise and geared up.  Another glitch in the system was a hole in my rubber boot.  Beginning to wonder if someone was trying to give me a major hint.  Ended up ignoring the pending signs of doom and had a good time with capturing photos of Avocets, Willets, Marbled Godwits and Snowy Egrets.

There were hundreds if not a few thousand Avocets feeding just off shore.  This lone Avocet landed nearby just after sunrise and rested on one leg with its beak nestled in his feathers.  Got close to him by crawling on hands and knees and got this nearly full framed shot.  He kept his eye on me but didn’t spook.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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