Skip navigation

Category Archives: Crex Meadows

Last weekend we drove through Crex Meadows. We were hoping to see Sandhill Cranes but we didn’t see a single crane. The flowages were frozen so most of the waterfall were gone. We did see quite a few birds of prey in the meadows.  Bald Eagles were perched near Phantom Lake and we saw more out in the flowages.

We also saw quite a few Rough-legged Hawks hunting. These are some of the best pictures I’ve gotten of Rough-legged Hawks.

As we drove past one of the lakes we noticed bear tracks going out on to the lake. I measured them and they were 4 X 6 inches.

We found one lone Trumpeter Swan hanging out on a small area of open water by one of the flowage dams.

As we drove toward home we did notice Sandhill Cranes in some of the fields. There was snow on the ground and it looked like most of the crops had not been harvested from the fields so there could have been many more cranes in the fields.

Advertisements

Yesterday we drove up to Crex Meadows to check out the bird activity. Normally the Crex Meadows web site provides a summary of bird activity but the staff has been cut from five to two and they don’t always have the time to update the report. We had planned on spending the night but found there were not that many birds around so we just drove through the Meadows before heading back home. Almost none of the fields south of town have been harvested so it is difficult to find the birds in the fields although if you look hard you can find them in open areas.

This Meadowlark kept flying in front of the car and I was finally able to get a shot of it after three or four attempts.

Meadowlark

Grebe

There were a pair of immature Bald Eagles hunting along Phantom Lake road as we drove out of the Meadows.

Bald Eagles

We didn’t see many Sandhill Cranes. They could have been out feeding in the fields but as I mention it was hard to find them.

Sandhill Cranes

American Coots

It doesn’t look like the fall colors are going to be all that great. Many of the leaves seem to be turning brown and dropping this year.

We recently spent a morning driving around Crex Meadows. During a stop at the visitors center we found that several eagles had been spotted earlier in the morning. We were lucky to find they were still hanging around. This one was sitting by the nest. A little later in the morning we noticed it was hunting on Phantom Lake. When it caught a fish it went back to the nest were we were able to watch it feeding its young.

Bald Eagle

We did not spot many Sandhill Cranes. This one was near the road. I suspect most of the others were nesting deeper in the marshes.

We could see Trumpeter Swans nesting but they were all quite some distance from the road. We did encounter three non nesting swans in a small pool.

We found this pair of Ring-necked Ducks in a small pond.

Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds around the area.

The muskrats were very active throughout the flowages.

We noticed this Killdeer ahead of us so we stopped. It was very accommodating and walked right up to us and posed for photos.

The marsh grass provided some interesting patterns. In the second photo the area had recently been burned providing for a variety of colors as it started to grow again.

The Lily Pads were starting to grow now that the ice is off of the flowages.

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 any fall visit to Crex Meadows the main attraction is the migration of the Sandhill Cranes. About an hour before sunset they return from the fields surrounding Grantsburg, Wisconsin where they have been feeding. Wave after wave of them fly into the meadows providing some great opportunities for photography. In the morning the process is reversed. At sunrise you can see thousands of Sandhill Cranes at their roosting sites. From Sunrise to mid morning the cranes gradually fly out of the Meadows to feed in the fields. Crex Meadows offers an outstanding opportunity to view the Sandhill Crane migration up close.

More photos from Crex Meadows can be found on my website.

sandhill-cranes-crex-meadows-16-10-5467

sandhill-cranes-crex-meadows-16-10-4971

sandhill-cranes-crex-meadows-16-10-5709

sandhill-cranes-crex-meadows-16-10-5583

sandhill-cranes-crex-meadows-16-10-4799

sandhill-cranes-crex-meadows-16-10-5568

In addition to the Sandhill Cranes there was plenty of other wildlife to photograph as we drove around Crex Meadows. More photos from Crex Meadows can be found on my website.

We saw the occasional White-tailed Deer. This one sopped along the road to pose.

white-tailed-deer-crex-meadows-16-10-4685

 

Red-tailed Hawks were flying over the Meadows.red-tailed-hawk-crex-meadows-16-10-4591

There were a lot of Hooded Mergansers around. I photographed this bunch just before they took off into the sunrise.hooded-mergansers-crex-meadows-16-10-5325

hooded-mergansers-crex-meadows-16-10-5281

With the low water levels in some of the ponds it was easy to find Great Blue Herons around. great-blue-heron-crex-meadows-16-10-5022

There were also quite a few American Coots around although no where near the hundreds I saw on an earlier visit.american-coots-crex-meadows-16-10-4756

On most morning visits to Crex Meadows we normally stop at Phantom Lake to photograph the Sunrise. I didn’t think it would be all that great because there were clouds in the east but at it turned out it was a great sunrise. As the sun came up we could see the Sandhill Cranes starting their journey to the fields south of Grantsburg where they would feed for the day.

sunrise-phantom-lake-crex-meadows-16-10-4481

sunrise-phantom-lake-crex-meadows-16-10-4484

sunrise-phantom-lake-crex-meadows-16-10-4464

As a rule the reason to traveling north to Grantsburg, Wisconsin to to view the wildlife in Crex Meadows. This fall the conditions were right to spend some time photographing the fall colors. They were mainly earth tones this year but with the dark storm clouds and great evening light it made for some great photography. More photos from Crex Meadows can be found on my website.

crex-meadows-16-10-4432

crex-meadows-16-10-4405

The following photo was taken off of Main Dyke Road. Normally this area is a large pond and a prime area for Sandhill Cranes to roost. This year they had an issue with the dam gates and most of the water had drained out of the pond.

crex-meadows-16-10-4429

crex-meadows-16-10-4510

crex-meadows-16-10-4555

crex-meadows-16-10-4516

crex-meadows-16-10-4750

On a recent visit to Crex Meadows we enjoyed watching a pair of Muskrats feeding on a mud flat. This was the same area that we had seen a pair mating last spring.

Muskrat-Crex-Meadows-16-5-_5090

Muskrat-Crex-Meadows-16-5-_5076

At one point one of them started swimming right at me. He was so close I had difficulty photographing him with by big lens on.

Muskrat-Crex-Meadows-16-5-_5113

Muskrat-Crex-Meadows-16-5-_5117

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.

American-White-Pelican-16-5-_4885

There were plenty of ducks around including quite a few Ring-necked ducks on the various flowages.

Ring-necked-Ducks-Crex-Meadows-16-5-_4912

We saw quite a few Canada Geese around some of them had Goslings with them others were still on the nest.

Canada-Geese-with-Goslings-Crex-Meadows-16-5-_4962

We also saw some Pied-billed Grebes on some of the flowages.

Pied-billed-Grebe-Crex-Meadows--16-5-_5012

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.

Sandhill-Cranes-Crex-Meadows-16-5-_5165