As we were returning home one day my wife noticed a Bald Eagle on a deer carcass along the road. We turned around and went back hoping to get a photo. Unfortunately another car came along and the Eagle took off. I did manage to get a photo of it sitting on a dead tree along the road and a second photo when it flew up into a pine tree.
Last week my wife and I had a meeting in Duluth and on the way up we decided to drive through Crex Meadows. I wasn’t sure what we would find because the Crex Meadows Website hadn’t been updated since January. We were very pleasantly surprised at the number of birds we saw. Large numbers of Sandhill Cranes in the flowages.
We were watching these two Cranes when we notice a Bald Eagle flying toward us. He was busy hunting and wasn’t paying much attention so I managed to get a few shots of hunting. He managed to catch what appeared to be a small fish. Shortly after catching it another Bald Eagle flew into the area and he quickly joined it. This one appeared to be not a fully mature eagle the second on was a mature eagle.
There were also large numbers of Trumpeter Swans already staking out their nesting territory. These two were right next to the road. The water was still frozen and one of them was having trouble paddling through the ice.
There were also a large number of Canada Geese in the flowages. There were far more geese that I’ve seen for quite some time. It many be that they are just passing through. These two looked like they were staking out a nesting site.
There were also a variety of ducks in the flowages. They seemed to be the most timid waterfowl and generally fly before I can get a photo. I was happy to capture a female Mallard and a female Hooded Merganser before they took off.
We had a few weeks of cold weather so I decided it was time to take a drive along the Mississippi River and look for Eagles. We headed out early in the morning and had only driven a couple of miles when we drove over a small hill. All of a sudden there was a Bald Eagle right in front of the car. There was a deer carcass right on the edge of the road and the Eagle was trying to get airborne as we approached. I though for sure we were going to hit it because about all we could see out the front windshield was the Eagle. We drove down to the a place where we could turn around and drove back to see if it had returned to the carcass. It was flying around then landed in a tree above the carcass.
After taking some photos we continued on our way. Along the way we encountered three Bald Eagles out in a field. Of course they were on the wrong side of the road so we drove down to the next cross roads and turned around. When we returned the first Eagle we encountered was immature.
We drove down a little further and there were two adult Eagles together. I managed to photograph one standing in the field and the other as it flew off.
We then drove down to Reads Landing just up the Mississippi River from The National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota. Unfortunately we were skunked at Reads Landing. As we drove along the river toward Red Wing, Minnesota we saw a few more eagles but none that we could photograph. We ended up at Colvill Park in Red Wing. In the past we had been able to get some good eagle photos in the park but on this day we only saw one Bald Eagle perched in a tree.
In the past someone has been feeding ducks but it didn’t look like that was being done any more. I managed a shot of a couple of Mallard Ducks paddling in the bay. There were a couple of Trumpeter Swans in the area but they were too far away.
While we were in the park a friend called and when he found out where we were he suggested driving up to Lock and Dam Number 3. We had some trouble finding it but when we did we saw about five Bald Eagles perched in various trees. Most were too far away but I did manage a few photos.
We realized that we were not all that far from King’s Bar and Grill in Miesville, Minnesota so we decided to stop and have a burger. They have the largest selection of Burgers I’ve ever seen. The biggest problem is trying to decide which one to have.
Last week we made our first summer visit to Crex Meadows since returning from Iceland. Things have really changed since our last visit. The large amount rain we received in May and June has raised the water levels in the ponds and really made the vegetation grow. In some places it is difficult to photograph from the car because the grass is so high along the road.
We found some Wood Ducks sitting on a log. On our second pass around the Meadows this one was still sitting there and posed for me. It’s the first Wood Duck I’ve been able to photograph up close and my first one at Crex.
The ducklings were all over the place. It was fun to watch them making their way through the lily pads.
This Red-winged Blackbird landed next to the road. I had my wife drive up to it and it didn’t move. I was able to get some great shots before moving on.
We found this fledgling sitting in the road. When we stopped it hopped into the foliage along the road and sat there while I took its picture. I think it was a young Red-winged Blackbird.
There were lots of Trumpeter Swans around with their young. They looked to be teenagers now.
We drove past a Bald Eagle nest on the north side of the refuge. It had one eagle in it. The wind was blowing and it seemed to be testing its wings into the wind. I will probably be gone from the nest very soon.
A short time later we encountered two Sandhill Cranes walking through the Prairie.
I’ve photographed Great Blue Herons before at Crex but this is probably the best photo of them that I’ve gotten.
It was a great day for bird photography.
We were off to Duluth for a few days and decided to drive though Grantsburg an visit Crex Meadows. As we neared Grantsburg we saw over a dozen Trumpeter swans in the fields feeding. We turned around and drove back along a sided road and watched them for a while. It was still early and the fields had not been prepared for spring planting.
As we drove out along Phantom Lake we noticed some Sandhill Cranes walking along the road. In all we probably saw over 40 Sandhill Cranes on the day.
There were many Trumpeter Swans in the Meadows. This one was nesting right along the road. If it stays on the nest we will have a good view of the young when they hatch. In all we saw over 40 Trumpeter Swans.
As we wove through the Meadows we noticed some dark shapes along the road. It was difficult to see what they were. At first we though maybe bears. As we inched closed they appeared to be Turkeys or Turkey Vultures. When we approached them they took off. It turns out they were Bald Eagles. There were about a half dozen of them in all. We watched them flying around and then noticed the trees were also filled with them. We saw 15 Bald Eagles without moving. Most of them were immature. The one in the middle has quite a bit of red around the head. It appears it man have been feeding on a carcass.
There were also quite a variety of duck in the water throughout the Meadows.
In spite of the fact that it is a national wildlife refuge I rarely manage to photograph any wildlife at Trempealeau. This trip was different. As we drove through I noticed a large number of Gulls flying around a backwater. When I went over to see what they were doing I found they were fishing. I watched for a while and managed to capture a few of them.
I also noticed a number of immature Bald Eagles watching the activity. On the trip we probably saw in excess of 30 Bald Eagles.
I was surprised to find the Painted Turtles out sunning themselves. It wasn’t all that warm out.
We noticed quite a few ducks in one of the backwaters so we stopped to watch. I managed to get a photo of this Northern Shoveler as it swam by.
While we were watching the ducks a Muskrat also swam by.
Yesterday we had a beautiful day. The sun was out and the temperatures were near 40 degrees. We decided to drive down along the Mississippi River to look for Bald Eagles. This was our first eagle watching trip of the year.
Our first Stop was Reads Landing. In winters past we had good luck finding eagles at this location. They tend to congregate in this location because it usually has open water. Unfortunately there was a lot of open water on the Mississippi and we only found a single eagle. Normally we would have had lunch at the Reads Landing Brewing Company Bar but it was closed. We decided to drive back to Wabasha for lunch at Olde Triangle Pub. We love their Irish stew.
This shot of two soaring eagles was taken a few years ago at Reads Landing.
After Lunch we drove back to the Wisconsin side of the river and headed for Maiden Rock. From there we took county Road A along the Rush River. We wanted to check on the condition of the Rush River Ice Sculptures. On the way we saw 5 more Bald Eagles.
We were disappointed at the condition of the ice sculptures. They looked a little forlorn. The warm weather has not been kind to them. We need a week of cold weather to get them back into prime condition. This photo was taken last year after a patch of cold weather.
More photo from Reads Landing and Nelson’s on the Rush River can be found on my website.
As we were driving back from a visit to Hoffman Hills my wife noticed this immature Bald Eagle sitting along the road. I was looking at something else and missed it so we turned around and drove back to the location. It was still there and posed for a few shots.
Just down the road we found an American Kestrel working the fields. This is not a very good shot it is the only one I’ve ever gotten of an American Kestrel.
The Red-winged Blackbirds are back in large numbers and can be found at various wetland areas.
This past weekend the temperature was in the 60’s so we started to get an itch to go hiking. Unfortunately the trails around home were either closed or very wet. We decided to drive down to Perot State Park in Trempealeau, Wisconsin. Perot is a little further south and they have a number of great trails that are largely south facing. It was a great day of hiking and allowed us to get some much needed exercise.
What was really made the day was the number of eagles we saw on the trip as we drove along the Mississippi River. We saw a few on the drive over to Nelson but between Nelson, Wisconsin and Trempealeau, Wisconsin we saw well in excess of 50 eagles. It was the most eagles we have ever seen in a single day.
With the leaves still off of the trees it was easy to spot eagle nests. In most cases there were eagle sitting in the tree besides the nest.
The weather was nice so we decided to take another road trip along the Mississippi River looking for birds. The main goal was to find Bald Eagles but Trumpeter Swans and ducks were also fair game. Our first stop was Wabasha but we didn’t see any. We can usually find them in the trees on the east side of the river but there wasn’t a single bird.
Our next stop was Reads Landing. We spotted six Bald Eagles all flying. On pair was performing synchronized acrobatics. We watched them for quite a while. Unfortunately they were too far away for photographs. This is the first time we haven’t seen any Trumpeter Swans in the area. This is a photo from last year.
We headed for Red Wing and Colvill Park. Unfortunately we only found a single eagle sitting in a tree. He looked a little disheveled.
So far things hadn’t gone all that well so we decided to drive up to Miesville, Minnesota and try and find Kings Bar and Grill. A friend said they had great burgers. It would have made things easier if I remembered the name of the town or the name of the restaurant. All I could remember was that the name of the town started with M and the restaurant might be Kings and it was on highway 61 north of Red Wing .
Fortunately we found the place. It was mid afternoon on a Sunday and the place was packed. Luckily we found a table. The service was fast but it took a while to decide on a burger because there were so many choices. Once we ordered we had our meal in a short time. The burgers were great making up for a lousy day of bird watching. Would highly recommend Kings Bar and Grill. We have added it to our places to stop when we are in the area.