A SCENIC SHOW

So what if it will be freezing this weekend?

Greg Wagner of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has an idea for a perfect outdoor activity — and you don't even have to leave your car.

Hundreds of Canada geese are visiting Louisville State Recreation Area. There's also a few ducks and a half-dozen bald eagles, too.

"It's a neat wildlife spectacle not far from Omaha,'' he said. "It gets you out of the house, but you can still stay warm.''

Wagner thinks the geese will be around for a few weeks, attracted by the open water on Lake 3 at the recreation area. An aerator that provides extra oxygen for the fish in the lake also maintains open water for the birds. Think of an aerator in a fish tank, only much, much bigger.

He estimates that from 200 to more than 300 geese are in the area.

"As waters freeze, they'll probably really pile into the open water available,'' Wagner said. "They like ice shelves. You'll see them on the ice or some swimming around.''

Wagner said the best time to see the geese is from sunrise to mid-morning or from 3 p.m. to sunset. During the day, they leave to feed in surrounding crop fields.

Bring a good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope, he suggests, along with your camera. You can leave your car to get a better look, but he doesn't recommend getting too close.

"The geese are very wary to foot traffic,'' he said. "We don't necessarily want folks to get them up off the water.''

If you do want to stretch your legs, the recreation area has 2 miles of nature trails that could provide added glimpses of local wildlife.

Once people have checked out the geese at Louisville, Wagner said, they can see more eagles on the way to the Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium at Schramm State Park. Take Highway 50 north of Louisville to Highway 31 and go west about six miles, using the pull-outs along the Platte River on the approach to Schramm.

"The eagles are perched in those tall trees,'' Wagner said. "They are looking down and trying to catch fish in the open channel of the Platte right there.''

Three miles of trails are available at Schramm as well as a chance to warm up while checking out some interesting fish at the aquarium.

"Have fun with it,'' Wagner said. "You just need that park permit.''

Daily or annual park permits may be purchased online at outdoornebraska.org and then printed it out. The permits can be obtained at the Schramm aquarium but cannot be purchased at Louisville during the winter months.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1034, marjie.ducey@owh.com

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