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 including 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.
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.
On our way up to Duluth we stopped at Crex Meadows. We heard there were some American White Pelicans on Phantom Lake but when we arrive we could only find one. It looked like it might have an injured wing.
There were plenty of ducks around including quite a few Ring-necked ducks on the various flowages.
We saw quite a few Canada Geese around some of them had Goslings with them others were still on the nest.
We also saw some Pied-billed Grebes on some of the flowages.
There were lots of Trumpeter Swans although we were sad to see that a pair that had been nesting right next to the road was no longer around. The Muskrat house they had been nesting on was gone. No idea what happened. There were some Sandhill Cranes in the same area.
I noticed there were some ships coming into Duluth early in the morning so I drove down to Canal Park to watch. It’s great this time of year because the parking is free.
The Paul R. Tregurtha, the largest ship on the Great Lakes, sailed in. I photographed it as it entered the harbor then decided to drive down to Rice’s Point to watch it sail into the docks.
When I arrived at Rice’s Point I checked Marine Tracker and noticed that another ship was sailing toward Rice’s Point. There were a couple of other Boat Nerds at Rice’s point watching the ships. The Mesabi Miner was just making the turn to go under the Blatnick Bridge. The Paul R. Tregurtha had to wait for the Miner transit under the bridge. For some reason the ship was going to back up the Saint Louis River to the docks.
While I was waiting for the big ships to work their way up the river I took a few photos of the small fishing boats that were heading out into the lake for some Trout fishing. The season just opened so everyone was in a hurry to get out into the lake.
As we walked out onto Arrowhead Bridge I noticed a Canada Goose just above my head. The other photographers were over six feet tall and the goose was not happy. It reached down and hissed at them. Apparently it has been nesting there the last few years and has been known to attack passersby.
There were also several other Canada Geese nesting next two the Arrowhead Bridge.
Once the Miner had gotten under the bridge the Tregurtha started backing up the river.
It had been over a week since my wife and I stopped at Hoffman Hills to look around. Constant rain had prevented a visit but today it was beautiful and sunny.
The ponds were really full of water. This emerging White Water Lilly was floating on the water.
The grasses were reflected in the pond.
As we approached the first pond in the wetlands area we encountered a pair of Canada Geese. They didn’t have any young but they were defending their territory. Another goose came flying in and they drove it off.
The trees and bushes were emerging from the long winter.
I was able to capture two birds that I had never photographed before. This elusive Belted Kingfisher was feeding in one of the ponds.
There was also a Northern Flicker feeding on the pond dyke.
The last time we were at Hoffman Hills there were a pair of bluebirds on this house. Tree Swallows seemed to have taken over.
There is a lot going on at Hoffman Hills these days. We have been seeing Sandhill Cranes in the Prairie area.
There are Canada Geese, Ducks and King Fishers hanging around the ponds.
We noticed a Muskrat in the first pond.
The Eastern Bluebirds have returned.
In the next couple of weeks the trees will have full color. The Birch and Maples are already budding out.
The Pussy Willows are just about done blooming.
The dog days of summer are not the best times to visit Crex Meadows but there were a few things to photograph. The water levels in some of the flowages had been reduced so the waterfowl only had small ponds to swim around in.
There were quite a few Monarch Butterflies on the eastern edge of the Meadows.
Trumpeter Swans were around with their young teenagers.
There were quite a few teenage ducks around.
I typically see large numbers of Blanding’s Turtles in the spring when they are on the road laying eggs. We found this one wandering across the road.
This Canada Goose was perched on top of a beaver lodge.
My wife and I look forward to following a pair of Canada Geese at Hoffman Hills every spring when they start nesting and raise their young. A couple of weeks ago the goslings hatched. We watched them while they were still on the nest and a day later they were out paddling around the pond.
About a week later we drove out to check on them and found the two adults very agitated and making all kinds of sounds. The goslings were nowhere to be found. We assumed something killed them.
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.
One of the things my wife and I love to do in the spring is watch the Canada Geese at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area. Most years a pair of geese build a nest on one of the ponds. We can usually predict fairly closely when the hatch will occur.
We have been watching this pair for a month now. One of the geese will be on the nest and the other will be hiding in the reeds away from the nest.
Yesterday we were out checking to see if anyone had hatched yet. When we first check on her she was still on the nest. When we walked by a second time I notice that she seemed to be squirming around on the nest. A closer look showed a couple of goslings had just hatched. One was peeking out under the adults wing and another one was peeking out above the wing. We watched them for a while and decided to stop back the next morning to check on their progress.
Overnight we had a terrible storm with over 2 inches of rain in a short period of time. We wondered how the young goslings had fared. When we arrived we found that in all six goslings had hatched. We watched them swim around with their parents. After about an hour of swimming around they went back to the nest and disappeared under one of the adults.