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.
Last week we headed out on another trip to find Bald Eagles along the Mississippi River. Just before we reached Durand, Wisconsin I noticed one sitting in a tree along the road. We turned around and went back for some shots. This is probably the best Bald Eagle shot I’ve gotten. He was right near the road and was not obstructed by any branches.
As we drove over the Bridge At Wabasha we noticed an eagle sitting in a tree next to a nest just north of the bridge. Unfortunately it was too far away for a shot. We then headed up to Reads Landing. There were a few Eagles sitting on the sand on the other side of the river but too far away for any shots. We did see a pair of Mature eagles flying around. It looked like they might be getting ready to mate. About that time a train came along and I could see that the eagles had gotten close enough to photograph but by the time the train passed they were gone. We had lunch at the Reads Landing Brewing Company. Apparently it is in the process of changing hands.
We then drove north toward Red Wing, Minnesota. There are several pull offs just north of Reads Landing so we stopped to watch the eagles fishing on the open water. One of them caught a large fish before it flew off to have lunch.
We then drove to the next turn off where another photographer was already photographing eagles. He hadn’t had much luck but just then one landed a short distance away. Unfortunately it was partially hidden by the trees.
While we were looking at the eagle another bird flew into a patch of Sumac. Turned out to be a Piliated Woodpecker.
A little further up the road we found a bunch of Mallard Ducks on a partially frozen pond.
When we reached Red Wing there were no birds around so we headed home.
In addition to Trumpeter Swans there were also quite a few ducks along the Saint Croix River. Someone must be feeding the ducks because this one walked right up to me. I spent more time than I intended photographing the wildlife. My wife went for a walk while I was taking photos. It was really cold out and I started to get cold even with my cold weather gear on. I thought maybe she had walked back to town to do some shopping but when I finally returned to the car she was at the car and had been for some time. A small communication problem.
The ducks were more active than the Swans. There were multiple flights of ducks arriving at small area of open water as we watched.
We stopped in Hudson, Wisconsin to check on the Trumpeter Swans that winter on the St. Croix River. I has been warm and there were fewer swans than we typically see. We did notice open water out in the river and there were quite a few swans on the Minnesota side of the river. That group was particularly active and I was able to capture some photos of them landing near me.
The Mallard Ducks were also active. I captured this sequence of photos as one landed in the water near me.
I also captured a sequence of photos of a Mallard Duck taking a bath then exiting the water.
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.
When we were in Duluth Looking for the Ivory Gull we encountered a variety of birds in Canal Park.
Great Black-backed Gull
My wife and I drove down to Red Wing earlier this week. For several days the temperatures never reached above -10 and we were getting cabin fever. When the temperature reached 0 we were out of the house. Actually the temperature rose to 24 during the day so it seemed like we were in Florida. The wind was blowing in the afternoon so it was still cool but not as bad as the -35 wind chills that we had the previous days.
We had lunch at Libertys Restaurant & Lounge in Red Wing. They had a great salad bar with soup, sandwiches, pizza and salad. It was more food than we could eat and it was just what we were looking for. Red Wing is definitely a place we want to return to and explore when the weather gets warmer.
We drove over to Colvill Park, which is just south of town off of highway 61. As soon as we drove into the park we started to see Bald Eagles in the trees. I jumped out of the car and tried to photograph one in a tree just ahead of the car. It started to fly just as I took the photo.
We counted 8 in one tree. I was able to get close to one and get a nice photograph. There were a bunch of other photographers and some walkers around so as soon as an eagle would land they all headed for it. Needless to say the Eagles didn’t stay around long.
There were also a variety of ducks around that provided entertainment between photographing Eagles.
We spent our morning chasing an ice breaker. By the time we finished with the ice breaker it was time for lunch. We decided it was too warm to go cross country skiing, it was pushing +30 so we decided to go for a walk instead. We ended up in Canal Park watching the ducks floating on the ice in the ship canal.
Several weeks ago I had an opportunity to walk around Canal Park just as the ice was clearing out of the harbor. There were large numbers of Common Goldeneyes diving in the harbor. They were really fun to watch as they, all of a sudden would dive into the water and then pop to the surface. As we watched a bunch of them were under the water and all of a sudden seem to fly out of the water and into the air.
As I was watching the goldeneyes I noticed a pair of Mallards acting a little strangely in the foreground of the photo I was composing. As a watched they started to mate in the water. When they were done they took off at high speed.
Ok they really aren’t breaking ice but it was sure fun watching these Mallard Ducks navigate around the ice in Lake Superior. They were working hard to get around and over the ice near the shipping canal.