The making of the sandhill crane migration images

April 06, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

The making of the sandhill crane migration images, Rowe Sanctuary, Nebraska. I spent a night in a blind on the banks of the Platte River during the spring migration of the sandhill cranes. In the spring about 600,000 cranes come through here to refuel before flying further north; a true spectacle. A guide brings you to the blind at the end of the afternoon and he or she will also pick you up the next morning after the birds are gone. During the day the cranes feed on croplands in the area, mostly corn that was left on the fields. At night they sleep while standing in the shallow water of the river. You cannot leave the blind until the birds have left and the guide tells you it is OK to do so... otherwise thousands of birds may lift off, waste energy, and potentially crash into power lines, especially in the dark. This meant that I spent about 16 hours in this very small space. I found it extremely rewarding though.

 

Image below: The view from the blind with sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) at about 30 meters distance, Platte River, Nebraska, USA. The birds like spending the night standing in the shallow water as they can hear a predator coming. A million dollar view from my plywood shack!

The view from the blind with sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis),The view from the blind with sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis),The view from the blind with sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), Platte River, Nebraska, USA

Image below: Marcel Huijser in blind for sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), Platte River, Nebraska, USA. I wore dark clothing to reduce my visibility at dusk when the cranes flew in... they landed about 30 meters in front of my blind. I don't mind looking like a ninja when I get to experience thousands of cranes from such short distance!

Marcel Huijser in blind for sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), PMarcel Huijser in blind for sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), PMarcel Huijser in blind for sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), Platte River, Nebraska, USA

Image below: Marcel Huijser in blind with low power red light to reduce disturbance for sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), Platte River, Nebraska, USA. Only after it became too dark to photograph I closed the hatches and turned on the red light. Some light may still be visible through the cracks; white light, smartphones and other light sources are prohibited as it may cause thousands of cranes to lift off in the dark. The bit of red light was sufficient to clear an area for my mattress and sleeping bag so I could sleep. Though the cranes never stopped talking, I slept pretty well, except for the rodent, that tried to break into the blind around 4 am! :)

Marcel Huijser in blind with low power red light to reduce distuMarcel Huijser in blind with low power red light to reduce distuMarcel Huijser in blind with low power red light to reduce disturbance for sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), Platte River, Nebraska, USA

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All content © 2016 Marcel Huijser

 


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