Nebraskaland April 2019

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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Page 49 of 67

50 Nebraskaland • April 2019 A Rare Bird and a rare opportunity Story and Photos by Eric Fowler ast spring, Chad Gideon, a friend of mine, called and told me I needed to get down to his place on the Platte River near Wood River ASAP: There were nine whooping cranes hanging around the property he and his family own. There were two problems. One, I was on the way to the Sandhills, where I was meeting up with some folks to photograph sharp-tailed grouse and prairie-chickens (see page 38). And two, my luck dictates that these calls rarely lead to photos, as by the time I arrive, the subject that spurred the call is usually long gone. Not only that, but the river is long and wide, the birds move, and the odds of being in the right place for a photo are long. But after three successful days on the grouse leks, I pulled the plug on that shoot and headed south to test my luck. I picked up Chad at his house in the afternoon and headed for the river. We were walking down a trail to the crane viewing blind he'd built on the banks a few years ago when we spotted the white, red and black heads of two whoopers through the vegetation of an island in the middle of the river about 200 yards away. We watched from the blind for about 10 minutes, me snapping photos with my telephoto lens which, even with my largest teleconverter attached, still wasn't long A pair of whooping cranes walk past an empty photo blind on the Platte River near Wood River. L

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