Homer's Travels: Waves And Waves Of Cranes

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Waves And Waves Of Cranes

Time to recap what we did last weekend.

Our British friends, NH and JH, arrived Thursday morning.  We met on our amazon cruise back in 2016.  The Wife and JH have been playing WordFeud ever since and JH has talked to the Wife's students when they were covering "Lord of the Flies".  NH and JH are also bird nerdy so we invited them to visit us to witness the sandhill crane migration that passes through Nebraska every March.

On Friday afternoon we drove to Kearney, NE.  As we got closer we noticed large groups of cranes in the farm fields eating castoff corn from the previous harvest.  The Wife and I had traveled to see the cranes twice before but I noticed, as we got closer to Kearney, that the cranes were more numerous than when we were there.

Our first stop was the Rowe Sanctuary to learn a bit about the cranes and shop for some souvenirs (We already had a magnet but I added a crane bobblehead to my sugar skull and Alice Cooper bobblehead collection).

The converted railroad bridge over the Platte river.
We then checked into our hotel and I had a short nap before we headed out for our first observation.  During the day the cranes eat in the fields but as the sun goes down they return to roost on the banks of the Platte river.  We went to where we had first viewed them back in 2009, the Fort Kearney State Recreation Area.  This park has a converted railway bridge crossing the Platte river.  We arrived two hours before sunset and claimed a spot on the bridge. (The bridge filled up over the next hour.)

A large flock of cranes moving over the Platte river.
It took a while before the cranes began to arrive.  I was hoping for more cranes near the bridge like they were in 2009 but they never came very close but, unlike in 2009, the number of cranes were orders of magnitude larger than we saw before.  The sights and sounds were spectacular.  JH tweeted a video that shows the birds and you can hear what it sounded like.  We stayed on the bridge until there was not enough light to see the birds anymore.

The gorgeous sunset over the Platte river.
We finished the day with a late dinner at a sports bar so the Wife could watch the Creighton basketball game.

Cranes thinking about the coming day.
On Saturday morning we got up early and headed to the Plautz Crane Viewing Deck south of Gibbon, NE.  When we got there it was already noisy.  The sound of the waking cranes was building.  As the sun rose large flocks of cranes took off and headed to the nearby fields to feed.  We watched some cranes in the nearby fields.  Some were hopping and spreading their wings.  My understanding is this is a mating dance performed by the male cranes.

Cranes in the field ... a couple of them danced the mating dance.
We returned to our hotel for some breakfast where we experienced the marvel of the pancake machine.  The pancakes were surprisingly good.

We drove back to Omaha and spent the afternoon showing NH and JH the city.  Among other things, we walked the pedestrian bridge, saw the pioneer sculpture that runs for several blocks downtown, and saw the marker where the Japanese had bombed Omaha by balloon.

Our weekend full of birds and conversation ended on Sunday.  It snowed overnight and gave our guests a white goodbye.  We ate breakfast at Louie M's Burger Lust before dropping our guests at the airport.

Sometime next year, depending on the Wrexham schedule, we will be visiting NH and JH.  The Wife's list of places to visit in Great Britain is quite long and NH and JH were a bit dubious about us being able to do it all within any reasonable length of time.  Challenge accepted!

Pictures have been added to my 2009-2023 Sandhill Cranes Google Photos album.

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