Most of my drive time is spent at one or the other, and sometimes both, twilight times every week day. Pretty much year around the morning drive is conducted at least part way in the grey of early morning. During the late fall to late winter time frame I get darkness and/or twilight both coming and going. My Dad and my husband have admonished me countless times on the dangers of driving on Nebraska highways during these times because of the opportunities to encounter our native wildlife.
|Mule deer in Rocky Mountain National Park|
Every single day, without fail, I see one or more natural wonders on my drive. In the mornings, I am most likely to see deer as they leave their beds and begin for forage for food. Just this morning I watched a lone deer standing in a light fog on what used to be a corn field delighting in what the harvester left behind on the ground. There must have been a PILE of corn there judging from the way it was chomping and glancing around nervously then chomping again. I almost ran myself off the road watching it enjoy the corn.
I have seen rabbits, raccoons, opossums, domestic cats and the occasional badger or coyote. I also see birds of prey like red-tailed hawks, Swainson's hawks, American kestrels and once I got up close and personal with a huge owl that flew about 10 feet in front of my car as I drove home late one Saturday night after a dance party. I didn't stop to ask him about his heritage so I couldn't tell you what kind he was...or that he could have been a she. How should I know?
|When a llama puts its ears down, it's warning you to back off.|
But without a doubt, my favorite time of year for wildlife watching is the early spring. Every year, at least once, I pass over the crest of a hill on the highway somewhere and I am rewarded with a fabulous view of an enormous flock of migrating fowl either flapping along overhead or pausing to rest and forage for snacks on a dormant corn field. Snow geese really do look like drifts of snow from far away. Really, really. It's pretty cool. Other than the geese, the best part of spring is the crane migration.
The Central Flyway of the US goes right over top of central Nebraska. My little town is on the eastern edge of that flyway. We see a lot of birds here. But, as you travel west along Interstate 80, the number of cranes, like the sandhill crane, goes up almost exponentially.
Sometimes my friends from other parts of the world will ask me what it is that keeps me here. There are no major metropolitan areas nearby. There are no popular professional sports teams to speak of. There are no celebrity hang-outs even close. Maybe those are some of my reasons.
|I know what makes me happy.|