As I noted in an earlier blog we encountered a large number of Trumpeter Swans at Crex Meadow. Some were in small groups and others were nesting. One large group was acting very strangely.
The would chase one another in the water causing quite a ruckus.
Sometimes they would take off for a short distance then turn around and land.
The strangest thing we saw was birds sitting in the water with their wings extended. I had never seen this behavior before.
We finally concluded that these were a bunch of cygnets from last year. Quite a few of the Trumpeter Swans are tagged but none of these were. They quit banding a couple of years ago so we assumed they were all young Swans. They return to Crex with their parents but once the parents start nesting the parents chase them away. I suppose it is like a kid graduating from high school and on his/her own for the first time. We were told that one pair returned to Crex with all eight of their young this year.
After hiking at Banning State Park we headed for Grantsburg, Wisconsin. We were debating whether to stop at Crex Meadows. When we reached Grantsburg it was high noon and we figured we wouldn’t see any wildlife at that time of day. We finally decided to drive around the dikes and look around. Turned out to be one of the best wildlife days we have had at Crex.
We hadn’t gone far when we encountered several Sandhill Cranes in the grass.
A little further along my wife notice a Bull Snake crossing the road. I had trouble getting a photo of it because I was using my birding lens and the snake kept getting too close to me.
We had stopped along the road to look for birds and noticed this friendly Snow Bunting right by the car. Normally they are skittish but this one just hung around the car and let me take photos of it. When we returned later in the afternoon it was still in the same place.
It was a beautiful warm day and the Painted Turtles were out sunning themselves.
There were a pair of Blue-winged Teal in the water near the road. They seemed oblivious to the fact that we were right next to them.
We noticed American Coots at various small ponds around the Meadows.
As we were driving along I noticed a Muskrat swimming next to the car. As I watched it seemed to be frantically swimming around. Soon we noticed a second one. We then realized that they were mating.
We saw a number of Canada Geese nesting in the Meadows.
There were a number of Pied-billed Grebes to be found throughout the Meadows.
The most common bird in the Meadows on this day were the Trumpeter Swans.
On our way home from Duluth we decided to stop at Banning State Park. It makes a nice mid-trip stop to stretch our legs and take a hike out to Wolf Creek Falls. It was another beautiful day for a hike. The wildflowers were just starting to bloom along the trails.
As I was photographing the sunrise in Canal Park I noticed a ship on the horizon. After waiting for about an hour the ship entered the Duluth Ship Canal. It turned out to be the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder which had been out in the lake.
As the sun came up over Lake Superior I managed to capture some starbursts on the North Breakwater and North Breakwater Light. These can be captured by using a small aperture such as f32.
Duluth North Breakwater Light
Duluth North Breakwater Light
If the lake is calm there are some interesting reflections to be found in the ship canal.
Duluth Lift Bridge
Duluth South Breakwater Inner Light
Duluth South Breakwater Light
I happened to be in Canal Park when the H. Lee White came through the Duluth Ship Canal and headed out into Lake Superior. As the ships exit the Ship Canal they usually pick up steam and black smoke can be seen coming out of the smoke stack.
At last report a pair of Eastern Bluebirds had taken up residence in one of two bluebird houses I have in the back yard. They successfully fought off a pair of Tree Swallows that wanted one of the houses.
When we returned after a short trip we found the bluebirds were not in either house. The Tree Swallows had taken up residence in one of the houses.
A pair of House Sparrows were living in the second one. This is the first pair of House sparrows I’ve had in one of my houses.
At one point the female Eastern Bluebird sat on a perch near the houses and watched the goings on.
More photos from Canadian Hill Farm can be found on my website.
After a stop at Grand Marais for lunch we headed back to Duluth. On the way we noticed some interesting clouds as we neared Split Rock Lighthouse so we drove in to take a few photos. When we reached the beach we could see it was raining out in the lake. Just as we were leaving it started raining at the Lighthouse. This was the first park we stopped at on our North Shore journey and the last stop before we headed back to Duluth.
On the way back to Grand Marais we stopped at Judge C .R. Magney State Park to photograph the waterfalls. We hiked along the river to Devil’s Kettle Falls. It was a bright sunny day but my variable neutral density filter allowed me to capture the fall as I wanted to capture it.
We took a few shots of the falls before heading back down to the lower falls. The lower fall really required a wide angle lens but since I didn’t have the correct filter I tried to capture an intimate photo of the falls.