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Category Archives: Gilbert Creek Wildlife Area

This past weekend was the Annual Midwest Crane Count for my area. It was originally scheduled for April 13th but was postponed one week because of a blizzard. Probably a good thing it was because there were not many birds around the day after the blizzard. When we headed out early in the morning we were greeted with a full moon. Our counting area was Gilbert Creek Fishery and Wildlife Area about seven miles west of Menomonie, Wisconsin.

 


The goal was to count Sandhill Cranes. We saw four cranes and heard another pair calling. This tied for the most cranes we have counted during the crane count

 

In addition we counted other birds in the area. The highest count was for Red-winged Blackbirds. We stopped counting at thirty five. All but one of them were male birds. The second photo is of the only female that we saw.

There were a few Buffleheads in the pond and they seemed to be chasing one another around the pond.

 

For the first time since I started counting I found Trumpeter Swans in the area. I noticed them a couple of times this spring so maybe they will stay for the season.

 

There were several Canadian Geese on their nests.

I drove down to Gilbert Creek Wildlife Area to see what was going on. I found a variety of birds on was was a beautiful morning.

Red-winged Blackbird

Sandhill Cranes

Northern Shovelers

Lesser Scaup

Gilbert Creek Wildlife Area is Located about 7 miles west of Menomonie, Wisconsin. Its a place that I visit frequently in the spring for bird photography. It’s only about 5 minutes from my house so it is easy to get to. It’s also the place where I participate in the spring Midwest Crane Count.

As we drove up I noticed a Bald Eagle in a tree. It looked like it had just finished eating a rabbit. We watched it a while before it flew off. My wife noticed it was returning so I got out of the car and was able to get a couple of photographs of it in flight.

I was also able to capture a couple of Mallard Ducks in flight.

There are quite a few Canada Geese at Gilbert Creek but none of them are on the nest.

 

 

 

I noticed a couple of very cooperative Mallard Ducks at Gilbert Creek. Normally they flay as soon as the see me. Both the male and female took turns posing of a rock. These are some of the best shots I’ve gotten of mallards.

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.

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 Saturday was the annual Sandhill Crane Count which I’ve participated in for a number of years. My count area is a small area call Gilbert Creek Wildlife Area. Counting means being at the count area by 5:30am so it was an early start to the day.

I didn’t see or hear any cranes while it was dark out but I could hear some Canada Geese taking off. Once the sun was up I found a couple of cranes walking in a pasture and later heard them calling. Later in the morning I found this lone crane out on a walkabout. As I mentioned in an earlier blog I had seen a couple of cranes mating in the area so it’s possible one was on the nest.

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There were some other birds around. I found the Pied-billed Grebe all alone in a small pond.

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As I mentioned I had heard some Canada Geese take off early in the morning. There were still a few around but none of them appeared to be on nests.

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I managed to get a rare shot of an American Robin. Given the large number of robins around I’m not sure why I not have a lot more photos of them.

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More photographs from Gilbert Creek can be found on my website.

I’m still looking for Sandhill Cranes around the area. There seem to be more cranes around this year than in past years but they could just be passing through.

We found this crane in a local wildlife area. On an earlier trip the crane was chasing the Canada Goose but they seemed to be coexisting this time.

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I stopped to photograph a couple of cranes walking through a wildlife area when they started mating. This was a first for me. I have a photo of a couple of Bald Eagles mating and a couple of Elk mating this was the first time for cranes.

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These two were in a small pond so we stopped. We might have been a little close because they took off shortly after we arrived.

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The Pussy Willow season is just about over. They are starting to turn green in the wetlands around here.

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This time of year there is not a lot to photograph. The snow is gone, the flowers aren’t up and the butterflies are in short supply. One thing we like to do is to search for nesting Sandhill Cranes. Last week we found a pair in a local wildlife are. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera along and so I couldn’t record their antics as they walked along together.

Early one foggy morning we drove back to see if we could find them again. Unfortunately all we found were Canadian Geese. We were just about to give up when I heard some cranes but couldn’t see them in the fog. All of a sudden they came flying in and landed in a small pond.

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We watched them for quite some time. At one point one of the Canada Geese was a little too close and the Sandhill Crane started running after the goose.

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