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.
Red-tailed Hawks were flying over the Meadows.
There were a lot of Hooded Mergansers around. I photographed this bunch just before they took off into the sunrise.
With the low water levels in some of the ponds it was easy to find Great Blue Herons around.
There were also quite a few American Coots around although no where near the hundreds I saw on an earlier visit.
Last week we made our first summer visit to Crex Meadows since returning from Iceland. Things have really changed since our last visit. The large amount rain we received in May and June has raised the water levels in the ponds and really made the vegetation grow. In some places it is difficult to photograph from the car because the grass is so high along the road.
We found some Wood Ducks sitting on a log. On our second pass around the Meadows this one was still sitting there and posed for me. It’s the first Wood Duck I’ve been able to photograph up close and my first one at Crex.
The ducklings were all over the place. It was fun to watch them making their way through the lily pads.
This Red-winged Blackbird landed next to the road. I had my wife drive up to it and it didn’t move. I was able to get some great shots before moving on.
We found this fledgling sitting in the road. When we stopped it hopped into the foliage along the road and sat there while I took its picture. I think it was a young Red-winged Blackbird.
There were lots of Trumpeter Swans around with their young. They looked to be teenagers now.
We drove past a Bald Eagle nest on the north side of the refuge. It had one eagle in it. The wind was blowing and it seemed to be testing its wings into the wind. I will probably be gone from the nest very soon.
A short time later we encountered two Sandhill Cranes walking through the Prairie.
I’ve photographed Great Blue Herons before at Crex but this is probably the best photo of them that I’ve gotten.
It was a great day for bird photography.
We were driving along one of the dike roads and as we came around a corner I noticed a large animal in the road. It looked like a seal. It turned around and went back into the water. I jumped out and walked over to the edge of the pond and waited. Sure enough it wasn’t long before it poked its head out of the water. Turned out to be a North American River Otter.
A little while later we were driving along and I noticed a Black Bear poking it head out of the woods. I yelled for my wife to stop and I nearly went into the windshield. I tried to get a photo but the bear moved back into the woods. We slowly drove up to where it came out and we could see it back in the woods. Unfortunately the cover was thick but we could see it was a sow and two cubs. The cubs went up the tree.
There were a number of Trumpeter Swans with their signets at various locations along the road. This batch was close enough to get some shots.
At one stop we encountered a couple of birds. The hawk was flying overhead and about the same time a Great Blue Heron flew by.
My wife and I were on a business trip that took us north of Bloomer, Wisconsin. We realized that we were not far from the Island Lake Rookery so we drove over to check things out. We were looking for all of the usual suspects and found them all.
Blue Heron Nest
The main attraction is the large number of Blue Herons that are nesting in the area. We counted about twenty nesting herons. This seems to be a bit less than in past years. It also appears that some of the dead trees have fallen down. The young herons are getting big. I think they are about a month old now and growing fast. We happened to arrive in early afternoon so there wasn’t a lot of activity. A few herons were flying in and out of the nest. It looked like the adults were dumping food on the nest rather than regurgitating it into the moths of the young.
The second reason to visit the rookery is to see the Green Herons. We usually see a couple of them but this trip we saw six of them flying around. Most of them were too far away to get a shot but one spent quite a bit of time hunting for food within camera range. This is one of the better locations for photographing Green Herons because you can get fairly close to them.
The third bird we were looking for was the Osprey. There is a large Osprey nest in one of the trees in the pond. Both adults were at the nest but we couldn’t see any young. I think that Osprey nest a little later than Eagles so their young might not be as far along.
More photos from Island Lake Rookery can be found on my website.
Blue Heron on Nest
We made my second visit this month to Island Lake Rookery. We spent the weekend at Long Lake and stopped by Island Lake on the way home. In an earlier blog I had mentioned that there were fewer Blue Herons nesting at the rookery this year. When we stopped yesterday almost all of them were gone. There were a few lone herons perched on a some of the nests. I think we counted six herons in all and most of those were on the ground.
Osprey on Nest
The Ospreys were still in their nest. At one point both parents were bringing food to the two young in the nest. From the looks of things the young were about to leave the nest. They were standing tall and testing their wings. Both parents were on trees near the nest calling to the young in an attempt to them to fly from the nest. This is a shot of both parents arriving at the nest at the same time.
The Green Herons were around but it took a while to find them. It was early in the afternoon and they were perched a couple of different places grooming themselves. In the time we were there they didn’t fly at all so we were lucky to spot them.
As noted in my previous blog posting my wife and I stopped at Island Lake Rookery over the 4th to see what was going on in the rookery. This was my second visit to the rookery this spring. I had stopped early in the spring just as the birds were arriving and setting up nests. My impression, at that time, was that there were fewer birds than last year but I thought it might be because it was early in the year and the young were not in the nest. Unfortunately, I had the same impression from the last visit. Many of the nests were not occupied this year. Last year there were hardly any empty nests. Not sure what is going on.
Great Blue Heron
Island Lake is a great place for photography because it is next to a road and there is a clear view of the rookery. What attracted me to this rookery was the large number of Blue Herons and the fact you could easily view them from the road. Right now the young are almost as large as the adults. It is a real treat to watch when the adult returns with food. This particular adult tried to do the feeding from the branches above the nest but kept falling off into the nest. It is quite a racket when the parent returns with food.
Another attraction, at the rookery, is an Osprey nest. When we first arrived there appeared to be an adult on the nest and a Bald Eagle on another perch some distance from the nest. I thought this was a little strange because the two don’t get along. When I looked through the camera it was apparent that both were adult Osprey. there are several young in the nest. I would think they should be up and about in the next few weeks.
The other bird we watched for quite some time was a pair of Green Herons. One came over by the road so were able to watch it up close as it hunted. I only wish I had as much patience as the Green Heron does. It sat on a branch and waited for dragonflies to land on the branch above it. This shot shows it eying lunch. It also managed to catch a frog from the same perch.