Trip Report 3: Journey into the Sandhills – Images of a Western Meadowlark, Prairie Dogs, Ominous Skies Over the Sandhills and a Blue Winged Teal

A Western Meadowlark, the state bird of Nebraska, sings on a fencepost at Ft. Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge.
Singing Meadowlark

A Western Meadowlark, Nebraska’s official state bird, sings on a fencepost in Ft. Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge. Mainly found in western Nebraska, the Meadowlark is a bright bird with a loud voice, easy to spot, but sometimes jumpy. I was pleased to be able to watch this one sing for a bit before he flew on.

 An ominous storm hovers over a two track in McKelvie National Forest. The clouds slowly roll through dropping rain over the sandhills while lightning lights up the sky and the sound of thunder fills the air.
Into the Unknown

I love the open and solitude nature of the Nebraska sandhills and skies that go on forever. When a thunderstorm rages on the vast prairie, it can be viewed miles away. I watched this storm pass by for close to an hour while I photographed the different dark clouds that would form and reform.

Dark clouds hover over the rolling sandhills in McKelvie National Forest as the last light of the setting sun illuminates the prairie grasses.
Last Light Upon the Sandhills

For a while on the evening of this image it appeared as though I would have a completely overcast sky. At the last moment the sun broke through the clouds on the western sky and illuminated the prairie all around as the dark clouds hovered over the east.

A Blue Winged Teal swims in a marsh created in a valley between large formation of sandhills in Cherry County, Nebraska.
Blue Winged Teal

The sandhills are one of the last and largest virtually untouched areas of open prairie in the United States. A diverse set of wildlife, especially birds like this beautiful blue-winged teal call this area home.

Prairie dog pups venture out of their hole at Ft. Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge.
Prairie Dog Family

Ft. Niobrara contains several areas of prairie dog holes. You can’t drive through this area without seeing their heads pop up and down all over the place. In the spring the young prairie dogs venture out to watch the large vehicles as they move slowly through the refuge. When someone gets too close, though, they are not afraid to bark their concern.

Previous Trip Reports:
Trip Report 1: Journey into the Sandhills
Trip Report 2: Journey into the Sandhills – Images of Halsey, the Niobrara, and a Bald Eagle and Crow

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