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.
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.
Sunset Union Bay
Yesterday was one of the strangest days I’ve ever had. The day took a strange turn starting the evening before. When I checked into the motel I asked for a 4am wakeup call so I could get up and photograph the 5am sunrise at Lake of the Clouds in Porcupine Wilderness State Park. The clerk didn’t think I could get a 4am wakeup call because the bar closed at 2am (apparently it was not an automated system). I was fine with that. Later, as I was photographing the sunset at Union Bay I remembered that although the Michigan border towns observed CDT, White Pine was on EDT. In other words I should be getting up at 5am EDT rather than 4am. Since I didn’t think I was going to get a wakeup call I forgot about it.
Sunrise Lake of the Clouds
Sure enough the next morning I received a wakeup call at 3:45 am (2:45am CDT. This should have alerted me that this was going to be a crazy day. When I arrived at Lake of the Clouds and setup the camera I noticed there were lots of birds around. I moved away from the camera to check out another shooting location and when I turned around there was a bird sitting on the camera. This was definitely a first. Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot of this. To top it off the sunrise was not all that spectacular.
Hooded Merganser Family
A little later in the morning I was walking along the shore of Lake Superior at Union Bay. As I approached some rocks along the shore I noticed a Hooded Merganser moving out into the lake. All of a sudden there was a flurry of movement among the rocks and I saw a bunch of babies dashing to follow mom. They raced as fast as they could and ran right up onto mom’s back. I think there were seven in all and at one point five of them were riding on mom’s back. She seem to follow along as I walked down the shoreline. The babies would dismount and mount as mom paddled down the lake. Another first for me. I was a little far away but I did manage a shot of the action.
I then started driving out of the park on South Boundary Road. Something caught my eye along the edge of the road. It was a baby bird and it started to dash across the road in front the car. There wasn’t much I could do and I drove over the bird. I looked in the rear view mirror and noticed the bird lying on the road. I thought for sure it was dead. All of a sudden it jumped up and quickly finished its dash across the road. I think the wind from the car must have blown it over. Another first.
A short time later I saw what I thought were some black garbage bags along the road and wondered what was up with that. As I drew closer I discovered it wasn’t garbage bags but a medium sized black bear. He looked at the car and fortunately headed for the woods.
Not long afterwards something hit the driver’s side windshield. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was but it turned out to be a frog. He got himself oriented as I drove along the road and stayed with me until I found a place to pull over and remove him from the windshield. The only thing I can think of was that it fell out of a tree along the road. Another first. This is a shot of the frog through the windshield.
Next I noticed a doe and two fauns along the road and was so busy looking at them that I started to drive off of the road. Apparently I steer the car in the direction I’m looking. Fortunately I looked up just as I was about to hit a guardrail. After that I needed a break so I stopped at the Little Carp River to take a few waterfall photos.
I thought things would end once I made it off of South Boundary road but they didn’t. Driving south of Mellon, Wisconsin on county GG a small black bear, probably born last year, made a full speed dash across the road in front of the car. I slammed on the breaks but still hit him. I think I must of just hit his hind quarters. He kept going full speed into the woods. There wasn’t any place to stop so I kept going until I found a place to pull over. I checked the car for damage and couldn’t find any. After some reflection I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and decided I wasn’t about to go back and walk into the woods to check on the condition of a wild black bear. Another first.
I finally managed to make it home without any more incidents.