It’s April 15th. Not only is it tax day but it is also my first opportunity to shoot greater prairie chickens. It’s spring in Nebraska (I use that term loosely as at sunrise it was 27 degrees F with a 25 mph wind out of the north and very overcast). The main event is the prairie chicken mating dance. This is not the same chicken dance you’ve seen at wedding receptions. No, this dance takes place on a lek (a grassy area where the prairie chickens gather at sunrise to display and court their potential mates) and is performed by the male prairie chicken to impress the most eligible female chickens. It’s kind of like dancing with the stars but the stars are the male prairie chickens. The one with the most votes gets the girl(s). It’s quite a spectacle.
I’m staying at Calamus Outfitters on the Switzer Ranch near Burwell, NE. Calamus Outfitters is a family owned business providing opportunities for bird watching, horseback riding, upland bird hunting, deer hunting, tubing, tanking and swimming in the Calamus river. They also cater to wildlife photographers by providing viewing blinds and lots of tips and information (good food too). Top nature photographers such as of Tom Mangelson, Joel Saratore, and Michael Foresberg have shot here. And now I know why. Despite the difficult conditions the chickens did not disappoint. The staff is great too. I want to thank John, a member of the staff and WBA (a tounge-in-cheek acronym bestowed on him by a friend) was especially helpful and helped my achieve another first for me – viewing a family of migrating whooping cranes – but that is a blog for another day.
Here’s my best chicken dance shot of the day. I’ve got one more sunrise shoot tomorrow morning. I’m hoping for warm sunrise.
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