Thursday, March 10, 2011


In late January, a film crew for Nebraska Educational Television and I had spent a few days in the western Sandhills of Nebraska, hoping to photograph wintering trumpeter swans and other waterfowl for the documentary film based on the book Great Plains - America's Lingering Wild.  At 20 pounds or more with 8 foot wing spans, trumpeter swans are the largest flying bird by weight in North America. They also are a conservation success story in parts of the northern Great Plains, after having been hunted out of this country over a century ago.

We filmed lots of waterfowl but were unsuccessful trying to film trumpeter swans other than a few distant shots. On the way back to Lincoln, I drove along the north shore of Lake McConaughy on a hunch that maybe they would be holding in a bay fed by a spring fed creek where I had seen them many years ago. With a stroke of luck, there they were, three family groups mingling together on a balmy 50 degree day along the edge of an open channel in the ice. 

I called my wife Patty at high noon and told her I was going to stay for a few minutes and photograph, but she knew better. At sunset I called her back and said I was just leaving for home.