I remember my parents telling me as I was growing up that no matter how much you love your job, there always will be parts of it you don’t like.
I experienced both ends of the love-hate spectrum last week.
On the “don’t like “end was an assignment for all the newsroom staff to make a bunch of confirmation calls for a “Best of Kearney” advertising section that has well over 100 categories. It took time away from my more enjoyable tasks of writing stories and taking photos.
And then Thursday arrived.
First, a good column idea had fallen in my lap, making that morning project go well. Then I had an opportunity to do some sandhill crane watching on my way to the National Audubon Society’s Rowe Sanctuary along the Platte River southeast of Kearney.
We’re blessed to have in our backyard one of the world’s greatest wildlife migration events. An estimated 600,000 sandhill cranes stop in the Central Platte Valley for about six weeks of late winter-early spring to rest on the river sandbars and feed in adjacent meadows and harvested cornfields halfway along in their travels from south Texas and Mexico wintering grounds to breeding areas in northern Canada, Alaska and Siberia.
This is the world’s largest gathering of cranes.
I took a few photos Thursday afternoon on my way to Rowe Sanctuary to interview one of the longtime volunteers for a Hub Monday Profile. I got one good one of cranes flying, but I hope to get better shots this coming Saturday when I’ll be in a Fort Kearny blind in a cornfield, hopefully surrounded by cranes.
I told my interview subject Thursday that I would follow him on his evening blind tour at least to get a photo of him leading Rowe visitors there, and might stay to watch the cranes come to the river to roost on sandbars overnight depending on the blind he was assigned.
His tour was in the far west blind, which generally is the best for a good sandhill crane show. But you just never know. As much as I’d like to orchestrate the locations and actions of cranes and other wildlife I want to photograph, I know that’s impossible.
The big show started with a fabulous Nebraska sunset. It just kept getting better and wave after wave of cranes decided the sandbars outside our blind were the place they wanted to sleep Thursday night.
The sights and sounds were fabulous. Words, photos or even a combination can’t do them justice. I was in awe mostly because I had never had that one great crane watching experience at Rowe Sanctuary.
Just the Saturday before, I was in the far east blind doing a story about Metropolitan State University at Denver journalism students gathering information for a writing project and documentary about cranes and their habitat. Not one bird landed near us that night.
I’ve had other times in the blinds when there have been beautiful sunsets and flying cranes, but nothing even remotely as magical as what I saw Thursday night.
I’m getting up early tomorrow to join a group of North American travel writers going to a Rowe Blind at sunrise. It is supposed to be a cloudy morning, so the best outcome will be that the cranes stay settled on the sandbars until the sunlight allows for photos.
I won’t be too disappointed if that doesn’t happen. It seems greedy to expect another great crane experience so soon.
However, I’ll still hope for a beautiful morning next Saturday. My NPW friend Judy Nelson of Lincoln and I will be in that cornfield blind and keeping our fingers crossed that it is the place where some amazing, dancing sandhill cranes also want to be.