This is a big winter weekend with two of my favorite events taking place. Just down the road in Hudson, Wisconsin is the Hudson Hot Air Affair. They typically have a large number of hot air balloons at the event. More photos of the Hudson events can be found on my website.
While in Hudson you can also visit the Trumpeter Swans on the Saint Croix River.
Another option is to drive over to Willow River State Park and cross country ski or walk down to Willow Falls.
Up north is the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race. This is always a fun family event. In my opinion it is one of the better sled dog races for spectators because all of the races are out and back so you can watch the entire event from one location. We usually watch the start of the race then head off for some lunch and then return to watch the racers return. More photos from the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race can be found on my website.
In the afternoon we drive down the Meyers Beach and walk out to the Apostle Islands Ice Caves. It doesn’t look like you will be able to walk out to the caves on the ice this year but there is a hiking trail above the ice caves that provides some nice views. More photos from the Ice Caves can be found on my website.
After leaving Willow River State Park we headed over to the Saint Croix River to see if there were any Trumpeter Swans overwintering. The Saint Croix was frozen and there were quite a few swans around. It was another grey and overcast day so the photography was not all that great.
While we were there we met another photographer and his friend. His friend happened to be a Mallard Hen. He had been photographing for quite a while and the Mallard followed him everywhere.
We were in Hudson, Wisconsin on business and decided to stop and check on the Trumpeter Swan population. It was late in the day. When we left home is was cloudy but by the time we reached Hudson the sun was out and it was a beautiful, relatively warm late afternoon.
When we arrived we were the only ones there. Before long a crowd had gathered. Apparently the swans fly off late in the afternoon and folks wanted to watch the evening flight out.
There were also several people feeding the swans. Everyone was lined up to get some food.
I started talking with another photographer who was working with a long lens and tripod. Turned out to be Art Juchno who I had worked with at Stout. I didn’t recognize him all bundled up in his winter gear but he recognized me. I’m not sure what that says about my sartorial efforts.
I spent about an hour watching the birds. There were a lot of ducks and geese but only about fifty swans. Last time I was photographing there were over three hundred. Apparently colder weather brings them into the area.
More Trumpeter Swan photos can be found on my website.
I made a second visit to watch the Trumpeter Swans along the Saint Croix River in Hudson, Wisconsin. On the first visit the weather was relatively warm and the swans and other birds were really active. There were so many of them it the water that it was difficult to get photos of single birds.
On this visit it was well below zero and I was the only one dumb enough to stand out along the river to photograph birds. My wife stayed in the car and said a number of cars came by and people either watched from their car or jumped out to take a quick photo.
Because it was so cold the birds were not very active. The smaller number of birds in the water made it much easier to photograph individual birds or smaller groups of birds. Most of the swans, geese and ducks were on shore trying to keep warm. In all I counted in excess of 250 Trumpeter Swans in an area about half the size of a football field.
There were also a number of ducks around. This one just came in from the water.
Right behind the duck this Trumpeter Swan walked onto the ice to take a nap.
It looks like these two Trumpeter Swans are harassing the duck but they were just interacting and the duck seemed undisturbed.
After swimming around for about an hour this swan returned to the ice to take a nap in the cold weather.
On my last visit to Willow River State Park was during a warm stretch. For some reason the river below the falls was frozen solid but there was not a lot of ice at Willow Falls. About a week later I made a second trip to Willow Falls. We had a solid week of below zero weather. This time the River was open and the Falls had quite a bit of ice. I haven’t been able to figure out why the river was open.