Sunday, March 25, 2001


We're back.

Two states, one night in a motel, seven hundred fifty miles, four bald eagles, one flock of white-tailed ptarmigan, one humongous flock of snow geese, and fifty thousand sandhill cranes.

IT WAS WONDERFUL! One of the greatest remaining wildlife spectacles, four hundred thousand sandhill cranes stop over in Kearney to refuel. They spend a few weeks on the ground cleaning up the spilled corn from the fields and sleep at night standing on submerged sandbars in the Platte river. They put on about a pound of body weight each before heading north as far as Canada and Alaska for the summer.

We saw flocks and flocks of cranes feasting in fields as we drove around Saturday afternoon. We positioned ourselves out on the hike/bike bridge at Fort Kearney Recreation Area for the evening arrival. As it got closer to sunset, the sky filled with flocks congregating from all directions for their final staging at the river's edge. Just as it started getting too dark to see clearly, they all did their final swirl in the air for the night to pack together in the water as closely as they could. Our best estimate is that we really saw fifty thousand Sandhill Cranes in the final two hours of the day.

Sandhills talk a lot. They make a sound I'd call a loud "chirrup" noise. Sometimes when they're all doing it at once, some of them degenerate into something close to a Canada Goose "honk". It's a great variety of noise.

So as we're standing on the bridge, watching them arrive from all directions, including right over our heads, we get to hear them from all directions as well; including from the forty thousand already in the river shouting encouragement to the ones remaining in the air. It was a sensory delight.

Friday, March 23, 2001


OK. The brothers currently on trips are not the only brothers who can take trips this time of year.

This evening, Judy and I are off on our own trip. We're going to take the weekend off and drive to Nebraska. We're told there is a Sandhill Crane migration that passes through Kearney, Nebraska this time of year and is worth seeing.