In case you were concerned whether or not our group had seen any cranes yet, here is your answer:
Oh, just a few...thousand! Once we got past Grand Island, they were all over in the fields. The group was antsy for them too. I forget how exciting the multitude of sandhill cranes can be. I was assuming after our nine hour drive that the group would want to unwind at the hotel, but as soon as we started seeing cranes, no one was interested in checking in to the hotel, they wanted to just sit and watch and listen--I was the same way my first time too! So, stop and admire we did.
We stopped at Fort Kearney and found a large flock that was spooked into the air and looked like a cloud of smoke off in the distance--pure magic!
Another highlight in Nebraska for all the Minnesota birders was all the Harris sparrows mixed in with the juncos. Boy, you know it's a hardcore birding trip when people are excited about sparrows. I must admit, I do enjoy Harris sparrows. They always remind me of Bluto...or Pavarotti.