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Category Archives: Canada Goose

After last weekends blizzard things finally started to warm up so my wife and I drove out to Hoffman Hills looking for birds. When we arrived we found the water in the prairie ponds was the highest we have seen it. It was flowing over the pond banks in several places. The first pond we approached was still mostly frozen. Several ducks flew as we approached the pond. I think they were Blue-winged Teals. We noticed a Hooded Merganser across the pond.

The Pussy Willows are starting to bloom although they were further ahead in the Gilbert Creek area.

As we approached the second pond we noticed a pair of Belted Kingfishers. I was able to get a shot of one through the trees before it flew. They seem to be very shy.

As we returned to the first pond all heck broke loose. Two Canada Gee

se were in the pond and a third flew in causing quite a ruckus. One of the initial pair chased the third goose into another small pond and then chased it away entirely. Then the two geese few to another area.

We started tracking the pair of Belted Kingfishers before they finally both flew away. About that time we heard some Sandhill Cranes fly into the area and another pair fly in from a different direction. They were all calling at once.

After things quieted down we noticed what appeared to be a third Belted Kingfisher sitting on a dead birch tree. It was fishing in a small pond of open water. We watched it fish for about an hour. It dove off his perch about a half dozen times three times hitting the water. Finally it caught something. Since the ice was just off the pond there didn’t seem to be a lot of things to eat.

It was a very productive visit.

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This weekend was the annual Midwest Sandhill Crane Count. Actually it was scheduled for April 14th but we were in the middle of a three day blizzard so the count was postponed one week. This year my wife agreed to go with me as long as I took her to breakfast afterword. We were up before sunrise and headed to my designated area which happened to be Gilbert Creek. The area is surrounded by roads so I typically drive around stopping along the way to listen and watch. We had already gone around once without seeing anything but things picked up just after sunrise. We noticed a pair of cranes in a backwater area. We watched them for a while before I heard several cranes calling some distance away. As we drove past a pond we noticed a second pair of cranes in the pond. I photographed them before continuing on to where I heard the cranes calling. There was a third pair at that location. In all we saw six cranes. This is the most I have counted during the years I’ve been counting.

There were also some Wood Ducks in the pond.

A pair of Pied-billed Grebes were also swimming around.

Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds were singing.

There was also a Muskrat swimming in the pond.

There were a bunch of American Coots in the pond.

I was surprised to find a number of Canada Geese on the nests considering we were a week away form a three day blizzard.

This was one of the best count days I’ve had over the years.

Last week we went out skiing early in the morning several times. It was our last ski trips of the season. By noon it was way to warm to be skiing. We noticed this nest in the trees above the trail.

 

The Canada Geese were out enjoying the spring like weather.

The ice wall was still standing but quickly disappearing. We checked both of the Bald Eagle nests near the ice wall and neither on had nesting eagles.

It was a beautiful day on the trail.

We had some shopping to do in Hudson, Wisconsin so we decided to stop in and look at the Trumpeter Swans that can be found along the Saint Croix River. We were disappointed and a little shocked to find that there was almost no open water where the Swans usually congregate. There were a few of them huddled along the shore and another batch out toward the river but none in the little pond. I’m not sure what is going on. Normally even if it is cold out there is a nice section of open water in the area.

I did manage to capture a few shots of the Ducks and Geese near the puddle of open water.

After finishing our hikes at Chapel Falls and Mosquito Falls we drove through the park to Grand Marais and then on to Seney. By this time the winds were really blowing. There were trees down and in one place a tree had fallen over a power line. We were wondering if we would have power when we reached Seney. The hope was to get some good sunset and sunrise photos but it didn’t work out. The next morning we drove through the Refuge. There were some Trumpeter Swans around.

There was a small flock of Canada Geese on one of the flowages.

We also found one lone Wood Duck.

The fall colors were OK but not the best we have seen at Seney. I did get a nice shot of some backlit fern leaves.

We made a late spring visit to Crex Meadows last week. Our first stop was a Bald Eagle nest on Phantom Lake Road. One of the adults was sitting by the nest and there were two young in the nest. It looked like they were just about ready to leave the nest.

When we reached Phantom Lake we found a number of pairs of Canada Geese with their young. This adult seemed to be upset with something and it kept chasing other geese.

There were a number of pairs of Trumpeter Swans with their young. The adults were furiously churning the water. I assume to free plants from the bottom so they would float to the surface and the Cygnets could feed on them.

One of the popular attractions this year has been Killdeer nesting in the roads around the flowage.

We also found this Leatherback Turtle laying eggs along the road.

The spring flowers were out in the meadows. Indian Paintbrush and Yellow Water Lilies were common.

We encountered a number of White-tailed Deer in our drive through the meadows.

The young ducks have also hatched and could be found on the flowages.

We were leaving for a three week vacation but before we left we stopped out at Hoffman Hills to check to see if the Canada Geese had hatched. The nest was empty but it looked like one of the goslings had not survived. The remaining goslings were paddling around the pond.

The Eastern Bluebirds and the Tree Swallows were battling it out for housing.

The trees wee starting to leaf out.

The two geese nesting on the first pond are still nesting. There was one big change. On our last visit the pond was full of water and the small island where the geese normally nest was covered so they nested on shore. Today we found that the pond has lost several feet of water and part of the island was visible. Not sure what happened but I suspect a Muskrat dug a tunnel and let some of the water out. One bird was on the nest and the other bird was stationed on the emerging island.

On the second pond we found a pair of geese with their young.

Lots of Yellow-rumpted Warblers flying around today. We seem to be seeing them everywhere.

The Prairie Smoke is still just starting to come up although the warm weather should help.

My wife and I made our first visit to Hoffman Hills since returning from vacation. We were curious to see if the Canada Geese had nested at the ponds again this year. We were happy to see one pair had nested on the first pond. Normally they nest on a small island in the middle of the pond but the last few years the water has been so high that they have been nesting on shore. One was on the nest and the other staged nearby watching as we approached.

On the second pond we didn’t find any birds but there were quite a few Painted Turtles sunning themselves. Normally when we approach they slip into the water but this time they just continued to hang out and ignored us.

After walking around the ponds we headed out into the Prairie area to check on the birds. We wanted to see if the Tree Swallows and Easter Bluebirds were nesting yet. The bluebirds were sitting on one of the bird houses and several pair of Tree Swallows were dive bombing them. The male stayed off to the side but the female maintained here position on the house to protect it from the swallows.

There were a few flowers out. The Marsh Marigolds were out around the first pond and the Prairie Smoke was just starting to come out in the Prairie area.

 

 

Spring is the time I like to drive over to Gilbert Creek Wildlife Area to view the birds. We had driven past last week and noticed that there were already a number of Sandhill Cranes in the area. I drove down just after sunrise and didn’t see much to photograph. Later in the morning we were in the area so we drove over to see if things had improved. Just as we arrived my wife noticed a couple of Sandhill Cranes calling. There was another pair in the wetlands but we couldn’t see them.

There were quite a few Red-winged Blackbirds around but we didn’t see any females.

Lots of Canada Geese in the pond.

There were also quite a few ducks around includingĀ  this pair that seemed to be staking out a nesting place. There were also a number of Wood Ducks around but they were a little skittish so no photos.

When things get a little dull I like to take photos of just about anything. This is last years Cattail.