A family of birders?

My father and I joined our cousin Bob in Aurora Nebraska to watch the 2016 sandhill crane migration. Two of the three of us are veteran birders, I’m more of a neophyte. This was my first bird watching trip of any real consequence. While I may never be as serious as the rest of my family – I have a new appreciation for the hobby.

Watching, Waiting, Picture Taking

Birders from around the world line up along the Platte at sunrise.

We had three days to see as many sandhill cranes as possible.

The routine goes like this:

  1. Get up too damn early (well ahead of breakfast).
  2. Drive to the river (many bridges had viewing platforms full of birders).
  3. Watch the cranes take off to fill their bellies in the surrounding countryside.
  4. Drive the back roads between corn fields all day watching flock after flock – always on the lookout for the rare whooping crane.
  5. Return to the river at sunset to watch the cranes swarm in to roost in the safety of the shallows.

Cousin Bob had secured us a blind for our first morning, but sadly a bald eagle chased away the flock nearest the blind within minutes of our arrival.

Despite the lack of nearby cranes, I was able to capture a decent sunrise photo.

Between reconnecting with family, visiting museums and meeting a world famous photographer we spent an hour or two each afternoon cruising the dusty back roads looking for the brave flock that wouldn’t fly off when we approached. We found a couple, but most were too timid to come within a couple hundred feet of us.

One of my goals for this trip was to get a really great photo of a sandhill crane up close. Knowing that this opportunity wouldn’t arise very often and my standby 18-250mm Tamron simply wouldn’t be up to the task I turned to LensRentals.com for a Bigma (Sigma 150-500mm). While I never got the photo I wanted, I wouldn’t have gotten a bloody thing without the 500mm lens.

This was my first time renting photo gear, and I’m kicking myself for not having started sooner. I know I’ll never be able to justify buying a specialty lens, and now I know I don’t have to. I’m never taking another trip without renting the appropriate lens.

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