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    Moving on from the Chicken Dance Trail

    Moving on from the Chicken Dance Trail

    Nearly a year ago, the Wildlife Division Administrator of our agency announced he was taking a different job and leaving us.  At that moment, I had a feeling that I would end up moving to Lincoln.  For over 11 months, every day I thought about things like “Can I move my kids and family?” and “Can I leave all of these things I love?”.  Through a long and drawn-out process, my boss moved up into the Wildlife Division Administrator position, which left the Assistant Division Administrator – Partners Section position open.  About two weeks ago, I was offered that position and I have accepted it.  So, I will be moving to the Lincoln area, starting in a new role with Statewide responsibilities on April 17th.  This new position will afford me opportunities to impact private land habitat programs, partnerships, public access programs and more across the state.  Unfortunately, that means I am leaving the Chicken Dance Trail area.

     

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    Thank you Mother Nature, and Father Time, for another great March day

    Thank you Mother Nature, and Father Time, for another great March day

    A little over a month ago, I wasn’t sure if my father would ever hold another fishing rod.  He recovered nicely thanks to the great care he received from doctors and nurses…speaking of which, if you are a doctor or a nurse or any other part of the medical field, thank you for what you do. My dad had been (not-so) patiently waiting for warmer weather. On March 4th, Mother Nature delivered a gem of an early March day. 60 degrees by noon, high of 75, south winds of 8-12 mph. I thought to myself, “thank you Mother Nature…and Father Time…for getting us to another fishing season with my dad.

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    Back in the nest

    Back in the nest

    My 72-year old father got very ill at the tail end of January.  He may have been close to “checking out”, but some excellent doctors and nurses did their job and got him healed up and back on his feet.  When we got home, we were all glad to have him “back in the nest”.  I actually stated it that way to my dad, and it made me think of this month’s newsletter.

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    A New Resolution – More Time Outdoors and More Exercise

    A New Resolution – More Time Outdoors and More Exercise

    For those of you that don’t know me, I am a large man…..and the doctor says too large (just said so a week ago).  The hustle and bustle and busy times, along with various stresses, obligations, commitments and changes to my job have led to me spending way too much time sitting at my computer, sitting behind a steering wheel, sitting at meetings and sitting at home.  Aside from a few wildlife surveys that I do, I don’t get out “in the field” much anymore either.

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    The Twelve Birds of Christmas – A Nebraska Winter Wish List

    The Twelve Birds of Christmas – A Nebraska Winter Wish List

    On the first day of Christmas, the bird I want to see is a Gyrfalcon on a fence post.

     

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    My Return To Paradise

    My Return To Paradise

    Trip of a Lifetime –

    I recently took a “trip of a lifetime” to the island of O’ahu, Hawaii.  My wife, her friend and I spent just over two weeks there, relaxing on the beaches and exploring the tidal pools and habitats.  I did a little fishing from the shore, where I caught around 15 species of fish that I haven’t ever seen before, and we saw things like green sea turtles, harbor seals, spotted eagle rays and countless different fish species while snorkeling.  As a wildlife biologist, it was an amazing trip because of the diversity of sea life I experienced.

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    A Wildflower

    A Wildflower

    Declining Pollinators

    For those of you that are not aware, all sorts of pollinating insects are declining nationwide.  Monarch butterflies, one of the most common and easily recognizable species, have decline nearly 90% over the past twenty years.  Many other butterfly species, numerous bee and wasp species and other pollinators are also declining.  For some species (like the Monarch) it may be tied to reduction of specific host plants (which for Monarchs is milkweeds) that their caterpillars feed and grow upon before becoming adults.

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    “May” I bird with you…

    “May” I bird with you…

    We are now in THE best time of the year for birdwatching.  We are in the latter parts of the shorebird migration, middle of the neotropical bird migration (warblers, sparrows, etc.) and our breeding bird species are starting to show up and starting to claim territories and sing their hearts out (AND we can finally have our windows open and hear them).

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    Finally…A  Place to Count Cranes on the North Platte River

    Finally…A Place to Count Cranes on the North Platte River

    Opening Up the Landscape

    In March of 2007, several of my colleagues and some volunteers set out to do something that had not been done before, at least not along the North Platte River. We hoped to get a count of the number of Sandhill Cranes coming into roost on the North Platte River within a 3 mile stretch of the river east of the Hershey North Platte River bridge. This stretch included two miles of river on the North River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and an additional mile of river to the east on some private land that we had worked on with grant funding from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund.

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    Finches at Your Feeders, a Winter Treat

    Finches at Your Feeders, a Winter Treat

    One of the best things about feeding birds in the winter time is the possibility of attracting large numbers of finches. Hints of yellow, pink and red brightening up your yard which by now is either all brown, all white, or some mixture of the two. And if the temperatures allow an open window, or if you spend a little time outside near the feeders, they make a lot of enjoyable little call notes.

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