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Category Archives: Blue-winged Teal

We had been cooped up on the farm for a few weeks so we decided to drive up to Crex Meadows. It was a beautiful spring day, so When we arrived at Phantom Lake we were surprised to see what looked like ground fog along the road.

As we drove down the road it turned out that it wasn’t ground fog but a hatch of insects. The above shot was take into the sun and the shot below was taken with the sun.These were taken through the windshield because my wife wouldn’t let me open the window or get out of the car. As we drove along the lake the insects started gathering on the car. In a couple of places they were a half inch thick.

We were seeing quite a bit of wildlife but it was difficult to photograph because as soon as we stopped the insects tarted gathering. I saw this Blanding’s Turtle on the road. We stopped and I didn’t see any insects so I jumped out to get a few shots. When I got back in the car they were all over my jacket and we spent the next half hour swatting them with our hats.

I managed a few  Blue-winged Teal shots without letting any insects into the car.

I decided to drive back to the visitors center to put my camera gear away since we hadn’t seen any insects when we arrived. I noticed a couple of clumps of Pasqueflowers near the entrance to the visitors center.


This spring we embarked on a road trip to the southwest. On the way we didn’t make many stops.  It was really hard to find some compelling landscape photography locations as we traveled through Iowa, Missouri and Kansas on the first leg of the trip. The hawks must have been migrating because we seemed to see one at about every mile marker. Unfortunately one can’t stop while driving of the interstate system. On the second leg of the trip we did stop at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in Kansas. It was just a few mile off of the highway and I like to photograph birds. There were a lot of Coots in the Area.

There were several large flocks of American White Pelicans in the area but most of them were too far away to photograph.

There were also quite a few Northern Shovelers on the flowage.

When we left on the trip the Red-winged Blackbirds had not returned yet but we found quite a few of them around.

Blue-winged Teals and Northern Shovelers were hanging out together.

I thought we would find more shorebirds around but we only saw Yellowlegs in a couple of places.

At the end of the second day we ended up in Amarillo Texas. Not much to see in Amarillo but we did stop at the Big Texan Steak House. It looked like a Wall wannabee. We ordered the special of the day and decided to split the order. My wife likes her steak well done and I like mine a little on the rare side so we ended up selecting medium. When it came the cow was still kicking which was fine with me but my wife sent her half back twice before it ended up well done. By the third trip to the kitchen it was like shoe leather. I liked the visit she didn’t.

When we arrived at out hotel in Amarillo we were surprised to find a large number of Chinese. Turns out they were installing windmills in Texas. Seems our government is so busy pushing coal technology they are leaving the technology of the future to the Chinese.

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.


This past week we took a road trip up the Minnesota North Shore. This time we didn’t stop at the border and went all the way to Thunder Bay. This was my first visit to Thunder Bay in about fifteen years.


Snake Pit Falls

As is our normal routine we made our first stop at Amnicon Falls State Park. I was surprised to find the water levels in the Amnicon River at a high level. Typically at this time of year they are much lower. Swimming was prohibited in the park because of the high water levels. This shot was taken at the top of Snake Pit Falls.


Wisconsin Point Lighthouse

Our second stop was Wisconsin Point. This was my second visit to Wisconsin Point this summer. The wind was really kicking up and it was difficult to stand on the breakwater in the strong winds. The water in the bay was really churned up and was a brown color. In this shot of the Wisconsin Point Lighthouse you can see movement in the grass from the strong winds.


We then went on to Gooseberry Falls State Park. The water levels were really low along the North Shore. This was a little surprising given the high water at Amnicon Falls. The place was packed with visitors. I would have liked to get some photos of the falls with the lower water levels but it was impossible to take a photo without getting at least a half dozen people in it. This is why I rarely visit the North Shore from mid June until after Labor Day.


Split Rock Lighthouse

We then drove up to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. I thought we would have to purchase a park sticker but you can visit the lighthouse without a sticker so we saved a little money. It was really windy at the lighthouse and it was difficult to hear the tour guide with the wind blowing. This photo was taken on an earlier trip. Too many folks on the tour to get good photos this trip.


After leaving the lighthouse we encountered some rain squalls on our drive to Grand Marais. There were several rainbows along the lake. One of them lasted from Split Rock to just south of Grand Marais. I’ve never seen a rainbow last this long.


Cascade Falls

We stopped briefly at Cascade Falls State Park. The water levels were low but I find that Cascade Falls is more impressive with less water flowing over the falls. With less water the falls is framed by the black rock surrounding the falling water.





Grand Marais Harbor Lighthouse

I was able to spend a couple of days shooting in Grand Marais. The sunset was very interesting with a rain squall in the background and a rainbow dropping through the clouds. The sunrise was less spectacular with almost no clouds around. This is a shot of the harbor light with interesting cloud formations in the background.


High Falls of the Pigeon River

Later in the morning we headed for Grand Portage State Park to photograph High Falls on the Pigeon River. The sun was out by the time we reached the falls. It was a beautiful day and I managed a few photographs of the falls with a rainbow appearing and disappearing at the base of the falls.


Kakabeka Falls

At Thunder Bay we stopped at Kakabeka Falls. There was not a lot of water coming over the falls. In fact it was extremely dry in the Thunder Bay area. I was also photographing in bright sunlight so the conditions were not the best. You have to pay to visit the park and we had quite a time making our payment at the automated ticket machine. Apparently we don’t get out enough.


Fur Stores

Fort William Historical Park was on our agenda for the afternoon. We were too late for some of the events but did walk around the park. I have to say that our previous visit when our son was about seven years old was a lot more fun since many of the activities are geared to kids. This is a shot of the fur stores.


Blue-winged Teal

We drove around Thunder Bay in the evening. I can’t say that I was all that impressed. They are working on the waterfront and when that is done it should be spectacular to visit. We stopped at International Friendship Gardens where I snapped this photo of a friendly Blue-winged Teal.


Voyageur Child

The next morning we headed back down to the border. Our first stop was at Grand Portage National Monument in Grand Portage. There is a nice visitors center and a restored fort on the waterfront. Normally when I stop the fort is closed for the season. This time the fort was open and, as luck would have it, Rendezvous Days and a Traditional Pow Wow were going to be starting the next day. About half the participants had already arrived by Thursday so we were able to wander around the encampment talking to folks. This is a shot of one of voyageur’s daughters entering the Kitchen at the fort.


schooner Hjørdis


We then headed back to Grand Marais so my wife and her sisters could tours the shops and I could take some photos of the harbor. I was lucky enough to catch the schooner Hjørdis sailing into the harbor. Also in the harbor were lots of Inuksuks. This was a particularly impressive one. We finished off the visit with a lunch at Sven and Ole’s.