Hit Nebraska today in hopes of seeing our 4th Crane this year. A Common Crane has been here but not reported on since the 12th of Feb which made us really nervous but I really felt it would still be around.
We got in the general area at dawn and searched and found nothing. The most recent section it had been seen in wasn't coming up on the GPS so we stopped at the Nebraska Nature Center on Alda Rd. just off 80 in Wood River, NE. for directions. We got to platte river rd. and 90th and saw a car pulled over; 2 birders out with scopes. Hopes soared. We got out and they said they had the crane! They got back on the scopes and an uncomfortable amount of time passed.
We could not relocate the crane and they thought maybe it had walked over the ridge so we followed them around the corner for a different look and still no luck. The friendly birding dynamic duo seemed as if they wanted to stay as long as necessary to help relocate it but they were on a tight schedule. We were left feeling a bit overwhelmed by thousands of cranes and no other birders. We reported the sighting to NARBA & the local nature center and they got it out on the local email list right away. This got us in contact with two other groups in the area. We all exchanged numbers. One couple, Roger and Mary from SD were as determined as we were with us all planning on looking all day and being back in the morning if necessary. At 2:3o we told them we had to go get some food and would be back. On our way back we stopped short a few minutes and sat scanning another field of Sandhills with frustration and fear. After 45min we decided to move on to the original spot and the phone rang. My heart was in my throat. SD crane was calling! Could it be? Mary said "we got it". I babbled something and stomped the gas peddle, and shot the luxury minivan (cheapest thing they had!) down the dirt road as fast as I dared, which was way too fast. When we got to them they were not quite sure where the crane was at the moment and the feeling of excitement and fear together was almost too much to take. Roger got it in the scope shortly after we arrived and gave me a look. When I looked through the scope and saw that crane I nearly jumped up and down and squealed like my 6 year old daughter! Imagine a Sasquatch trying to contain schoolgirl giddiness and you get the picture.
This crane was so similar in size and color at the distance we were that you could lose it while it was in the field of view. With its head up it was obvious with its striking black and white contrast head and neck but when it dropped its head in the sea of Sandhills it was like a magic trick how it just disappeared. No wonder we couldn't get back on it in the morning. It took another 20min of peek a boo before we got Liam a good look! if I didn't think they would have been freaked out I would have hugged and kissed Roger and Mary! If they happen across this; THANKS AGAIN!!
Has anyone in their 40's ever had a bird-watching induced heart attack? Geezle peets!
Birding is getting kinda squatchy...