Sand Hill Cranes

April 10, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

You may wonder why I have not posted new blogs during the last few months. I recently moved to Nebraska and well, moving does not happen in one day. So what is there to photograph in Nebraska? You will be surprised to learn that Nebraska is home to the second largest animal migration on the planet. 80% of the world's population of Sand Hill Cranes land in Nebraska during April.

It was a wonderful experience spending two days with these birds. The noise is something to experience when they all come in to land or when they get ready to take off. During the day they spend their time feeding in the fields around the Platt river. At sunset they come land in the shallow river to overnight there. At sunrise they take off again.

          They are tricky to photograph as they don't allow you close and it is illegal to approach them. The weather did not cooperate either. There just was not enough light. A long lens is your friend here. That means using a fast shutter speed to prevent motion blur caused by camera movement. You also want to turn on your image stabilization. Choose mode 2, the mode that cancels out movement other than panning; you want to be able to pan with the birds for some images. To get enough light in, you will want to use your largest aperture. This image was taken from my tripod.

          I did not have much time to prepare for this shoot (with my move and all). In preparation for next year I am now tasked with learning the behavior patterns of these birds. The better you know your subject the better you are able to anticipate their next move which will make you a better photographer. With approximately 600,000 birds clustered together there is chaos. Isolating birds are near impossible. I plan to book space in a blind for next year.

          Good photography usually is a result of good planning and preparation.


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