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With the snow gone we drove down to the Red Cedar Trail to see if the Skunk Cabbage was up. It was way up and already producing leaves. It is always the first flower of spring.

 

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It looks like wildlife is starting to move around a bit more now that the snow is gone. I has quite a few racoon shots this time.

Racoon

There were also quite a few deer photos. This one was looking right into the camera.

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

The wild turkeys were also on the move.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

This past weekend after the Sandhill Crane Count we drove out to Hoffman Hills to look around. Not a lot happening. We did notice that the Tree Swallows have returned. We photographed this pair near a bird house.

There were some nice reflection shots in the two ponds.

This past weekend was the Annual Midwest Crane Count for my area. It was originally scheduled for April 13th but was postponed one week because of a blizzard. Probably a good thing it was because there were not many birds around the day after the blizzard. When we headed out early in the morning we were greeted with a full moon. Our counting area was Gilbert Creek Fishery and Wildlife Area about seven miles west of Menomonie, Wisconsin.

 


The goal was to count Sandhill Cranes. We saw four cranes and heard another pair calling. This tied for the most cranes we have counted during the crane count

 

In addition we counted other birds in the area. The highest count was for Red-winged Blackbirds. We stopped counting at thirty five. All but one of them were male birds. The second photo is of the only female that we saw.

There were a few Buffleheads in the pond and they seemed to be chasing one another around the pond.

 

For the first time since I started counting I found Trumpeter Swans in the area. I noticed them a couple of times this spring so maybe they will stay for the season.

 

There were several Canadian Geese on their nests.

I drove down to Gilbert Creek Wildlife Area to see what was going on. I found a variety of birds on was was a beautiful morning.

Red-winged Blackbird

Sandhill Cranes

Northern Shovelers

Lesser Scaup

My wife and I drove out to Hoffman Hills for our first look around this spring.  We did hear some Sandhill Cranes and saw a couple of Mallard Ducks and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. This was the first Song Sparrow we have seen this spring.

The Pussy Willows are now in bloom although they seem to be much further along at Gilbert Creek Wildlife Area.

We encountered a Turkey Vulture flying over one of the lakes.

Pond Reflections of the Willow Trees.

Last years Flowers.

Gilbert Creek Wildlife Area is Located about 7 miles west of Menomonie, Wisconsin. Its a place that I visit frequently in the spring for bird photography. It’s only about 5 minutes from my house so it is easy to get to. It’s also the place where I participate in the spring Midwest Crane Count.

As we drove up I noticed a Bald Eagle in a tree. It looked like it had just finished eating a rabbit. We watched it a while before it flew off. My wife noticed it was returning so I got out of the car and was able to get a couple of photographs of it in flight.

I was also able to capture a couple of Mallard Ducks in flight.

There are quite a few Canada Geese at Gilbert Creek but none of them are on the nest.

 

 

 

It’s the second year in a row that we have had a blizzard in April. It started snowing on Wednesday afternoon and snowed into Thursday. Thursday brought very strong winds a blowing snow even though the snow was wet. We also had a reddish colored snow. When I went out for a walk I noticed the top inch of snow was a reddish color. Turns out it was dust blown in from New Mexico and Texas. We ended up with about a foot of snow.

I think I noted that about three weeks ago all of the Dark-eyed Juncos disappeared and I haven’t seen one since. However, on Wednesday a few of the turned up at my feeders. On Thursday morning I looked out and there were 30+ of them scattered over a wide area on the ground. The strong winds had blown bird seed over a wide area in the lawn. They were present all day in large numbers.

The other bird I’ve not seen for a while is the American Goldfinch. They also turned up in large numbers. I noticed that they had started to turn color since I had last seen them.

There were a variety of other birds at the feeders during the storm.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Song Sparrow

Northern Cardinal – female

Northern Cardinal – male

Downy Woodpecker

Black-capped Chickadee

I took my macro lens out for the first time this year and managed to get a few photos as I walked around the farm.

First spring buds

Worm marks

Lichens

Lichens

It was a foggy morning on the farm so I decided to walk out into the woods and create some forest abstracts. These were created by moving the camera up and down or rotating the camera.