After seeing many posts about the fantastic wildlife encounters at Heron Haven Nature Center, I decided to visit. This small urban wetland sanctuary is located right in the middle of the city of Omaha, Nebraska. At first, I was disappointed that I did not hear the sounds of birds singing since heavy traffic and the sound of children screaming from the ball fields down the road drowned them out. But then I realized the noise that I considered a negative camouflaged the people on the sanctuary trail and is most likely the secret sauce for what makes Heron Haven so great.
They have an excellent photography blind on a pond at the end of a short trail. The day I visited, the nesting Canada Geese entertained me on the island in the center of the pond. A Great Blue Heron flew across my path and perched in a tree at the edge of the pond, grooming himself, while a Great Egret posed atop a bush over the water doing the same. In addition, there were at least a dozen Northern Shovelers swimming about while turtles sunned themselves on a log nearby. That alone was enough for any nature lover to consider the day a success! I might add that this was all happening simultaneously and was not the accumulated sights of many hours of observation.
What happened next, I never would have expected in a million years! Of course, it had been going on for a while. But, there were so many more exciting birds to observe; I didn't comprehend the rarity of the moment until it was almost too late. A pair of Canada Geese had swum away from the group. They were performing courtship behavior and eventually mated right in front of the blind!
On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, there are two one-mile stretches of beach that make up the largest nesting colony of Least Tern in the United States. This Important Birding Area right along the Gulf of Mexico contains sections of five beaches: Biloxi Beach, Gulfport East, Gulfport West, Long Beach, and Pass Christian; putting the Least Tern within the most populated area for beach-goers along the Mississippi coastline. Situations such as this make biologists suspect that humans and the family pet are the number one reason the Least Tern population is in decline.
I was not aware of this Important Breeding Area until I visited Biloxi several months ago to photograph the birds wintering in the area. Nesting Least Terns quickly became a priority on my birding bucket list.
This is the closest I have been to a blue heron…
With wildlife, I’m convinced that no matter how much you try to plan ahead it's really just dumb luck that you are in the right spot at the right time.
National Geographic calls the spring migration of the Sandhill Cranes through central Nebraska “one of the greatest wildlife phenomena in North America”. If you are a birder, a wildlife photographer or just a nature lover, I really consider this a “must do” for your bucket list!
In 2017, I was lucky enough to spend the entire migration season in Nebraska with the Sandhill Cranes. It had been on my bucket list for quite some time. I had gotten a small taste of it about 10 years ago when my husband completed a 2 month assignment in Grand Island. That year, we left at the beginning of March when the cranes were just starting to arrive but what I saw in those first few weeks literary blew my mind!
I am the 8th photographer in 4 generations of my family. Back in 2006, my husband accepted a job traveling, and I jumped at the chance to go with him.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies