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Nebraska’s Cranes and Other Birdlife: WINGS OVER THE PLATTE

At the present time EcoQuest Travel does not have a trip to Nebraska scheduled. The following itinerary is an example of trips we have conducted in the past and is similar to trips we intend to offer in the future. If you are interested in Nebraska as a destination please contact us for further information.


Nebraska’s Cranes and Other Birdlife

8-Day Itinerary

Saturday, March 26: Raleigh to Lincoln, Nebraska

Our journey begins at the Raleigh/Durham Airport two hours prior to our scheduled departure time. After our arrival in Lincoln, Nebraska we will transfer to our hotel and if time permits we will visit the University of Nebraska State Museum. We will overnight in Lincoln at the Ramada Limited South. Dinner will be on our own this evening.

Sunday, March 27: Lincoln to Johnson County Prairie Chicken Leks

We will depart very early this morning to drive to Johnson County. Located southeast of Lincoln, Johnson County is home to a large greater prairie chicken lek. The lek is located on private land and if we’re lucky we may see as many as 30 males displaying right from the roadway. Viewing prairie chicken males dancing and booming on their lekking grounds is a fantastic experience that harkens back to a time in America when undulating prairies stretched across vast areas of the Midwest. It will truly be a privilege to witness this rare bird and its spectacular behavior. We will overnight tonight in Lincoln again at the Ramada Limited South. (B)

Monday, March 28: Lincoln to Kearney and the Platte River

After an early breakfast we will head west on Interstate 80 to Kearney – our gateway to the Platte River and the enormous flocks of sandhill cranes and waterfowl that stop here during their northern migration. Other than lunch and checking into our hotel we will spend the day birding the Platte River valley and the rainwater basins that dot the landscape south of the river. We will certainly see thousands of sandhill cranes, but we should also see abundant waterfowl as well. The shorebirds will also be migrating through, or returning to breed, and we could see American avocets, Wilson’s phalarope, American golden plover and waders like white-faced ibis, sora rail and American bitterns. Tonight we will overnight at the Western Inn South and dine at the Whiskey Creek Steakhouse. (B,D)

Tuesday, March 29: Lillian Annette Rowe National Audubon Sanctuary – Crane Blinds

Today we will arise very early in order to get situated in the crane blinds at Lillian Annette Rowe National Audubon Sanctuary. These blinds afford unparalleled views of the migrating sandhill cranes. Once in the blinds we will stay until mid morning when the majority of cranes have left the river to feed. This time of year also brings whooping cranes into the Platte River Valley as they journey north to breed in Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta. If we are very lucky we could see whooping cranes mixed in with the multitude of sandhills. The Sanctuary is home to more than cranes, smaller birds like yellow-headed blackbirds and Sprague’s pipits also find shelter here. We will break for lunch and then continue birding until it is time to go back to our blind for the twilight return of the cranes to the river. We will be in the blind until just after dark and then dine at the Alley Rose restaurant in downtown Kearney. The Western Inn South will again be our accommodations for the night. (B,D)

Wednesday, March 30: Kearney to Ogallala

We will spend an additional early morning birding and then, after breakfast, depart west for Ogallala. We should arrive in Ogallala in time for lunch and after lunch we will head to Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area. Created by the Kingsley Dam across the North Platte River the lake is home to a great diversity of birds. American white pelicans, western grebes, Franklin’s gulls, black terns and a host of waders, waterfowl and shorebirds inhabit the lake. Because of the timing of our trip we could see birds that normally breed further north like Harris’s sparrow and chestnut-collared longspur associating with the newly arrived summer residents like lazuli buntings, lark buntings and dickcissels. Western raptors like Swainson’s and ferruginous hawks could be seen soaring overhead. Tonight we will dine at the Hill Top Inn which overlooks the lake and we will overnight at the Best Western Stage Coach Inn. (B,D)

Thursday, March 31: Ogallala to Thedford and the Nebraska Sandhills

After breakfast we will continue to bird in the area before we depart for our drive to the Nebraska Sandhills. Our drive will take us north and east into a unique dryer prairie habitat. After arriving in Thedford we will settle into our accommodations at the Arrowhead Lodge and have dinner at Stubs Restaurant. (B,D)

Friday, April 1: Nebraska National Forest Sharptail Grouse Lek and back to Lincoln

Our day starts very early as we drive from Thedford to the Nebraska National Forest. Once there we will get situated into our blind(s) so we can, hopefully, view the sharp-tail grouse on their lekking grounds. Like prairie chickens, sharp-tail grouse have an impressive display. The males stomp their feet, dance and give off a series of weird hoots and clucks. After our morning in the blinds we will drive back to Lincoln and settle into the Ramada Limited South for the night. Dinner in Lincoln is on our own tonight.

Saturday, April 2: Lincoln to Raleigh

After breakfast we will transfer to the airport for our flight back to Raleigh/Durham.

* Please note that EcoQuest Travel will make every effort to adhere to this itinerary, but dates, times, activities and prices are subject to change depending on scheduling and availability.