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on Mar 31, 2010 in Wildlife Photography

The Amazing Platte

The Platte River and especially its temporary guest, the Sandhill Crane is simple put, one of nature’s great spectacles! I’m here again with my good friend Mark Chitwood revealing in this magnificent event.

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It all starts kinda late. We were inserted into the blind (a 4×8′ plywood box, has carpeting though) around 16:00. At around 19:30 the first cranes started to float by in camera range and by 20:00, they were in perfect range. Sunset was at 19:59 and we had cloud cover so there wasn’t much to be photographed at sunset. But you’re not really here for sunset.

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The at 07:34 the sun rose but we were up an hour prior. So were the cranes. You sleep in the blind, you are not permitted to get out, for any reason! Going to sleep by the calls of the cranes is one of the best parts of the experience for me. Then before the sun pops, the cranes stir.

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The cranes just mill about for literally a couple of hours and appear to spend the time socializing. Pairs tend to do pair bonding and unattached do that courtship thing. What’s that courtship thing?

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Well, they pick up sticks, they chase around and they dance. That’s the courtship thing and it is really, truly, the coolest thing to watch!

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Then, just as the 5000 cranes arrived the night before, by 10:00 they are gone. They head out to the fields to forage for the day prior to returning to the safety of the Platte and its waters.

We were let out of the blind just after 10:00, that’s 18hrs in the box for those who are counting. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. I love it, it’s an experience that is beyond words and as far as this post is concern at least, beyond photographs. I have little time and a horrible connection to get this posting up but wanted to provide you a little taste of what I’m up to this week. The images are a collection of D3x / D3s with 600VR with one using the TC-20e3. Enjoy!