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Category Archives: Pied-billed Grebe

We have made several trips to Crex Meadows this spring. These are a few of the things we saw.

Mourning Cloak

Pied-Billed Grebe

White-tailed Deer



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.

On our way up to Duluth we stopped at Crex Meadows. We heard there were some American White Pelicans on Phantom Lake but when we arrive we could only find one. It looked like it might have an injured wing.


There were plenty of ducks around including quite a few Ring-necked ducks on the various flowages.


We saw quite a few Canada Geese around some of them had Goslings with them others were still on the nest.


We also saw some Pied-billed Grebes on some of the flowages.


There were lots of Trumpeter Swans although we were sad to see that a pair that had been nesting right next to the road was no longer around. The Muskrat house they had been nesting on was gone. No idea what happened. There were some Sandhill Cranes in the same area.


After hiking at Banning State Park we headed for Grantsburg, Wisconsin. We were debating whether to stop at Crex Meadows. When we reached Grantsburg it was high noon and we figured we wouldn’t see any wildlife at that time of day. We finally decided to drive around the dikes and look around. Turned out to be one of the best wildlife days we have had at Crex.

We hadn’t gone far when we encountered several Sandhill Cranes in the grass.


A little further along my wife notice a Bull Snake crossing the road. I had trouble getting a photo of it because I was using my birding lens and the snake kept getting too close to me.


We had stopped along the road to look for birds and noticed this friendly Snow Bunting right by the car. Normally they are skittish but this one just hung around the car and let me take photos of it. When we returned later in the afternoon it was still in the same place.


It was a beautiful warm day and the Painted Turtles were out sunning themselves.


There were a pair of Blue-winged Teal in the water near the road. They seemed oblivious to the fact that we were right next to them.



We noticed American Coots at various small ponds around the Meadows.


As we were driving along I noticed a Muskrat swimming next to the car. As I watched it seemed to be frantically swimming around. Soon we noticed a second one. We then realized that they were mating.


We saw a number of Canada Geese nesting in the Meadows.


There were a number of Pied-billed Grebes to be found throughout the Meadows.


The most common bird in the Meadows on this day were the Trumpeter Swans.


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.


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


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.


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.


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

I drove up to Crex Meadows a few weeks ago on an overnight road trip. It had been raining for weeks and we finally got some clear weather so I took advantage of it. When I arrived there were beautiful fluffy clouds over the Meadows. I drove around Crex for a while but there was not a lot happening. Most of the birds were taking a mid day nap and it was too windy to photograph the flowers.Crex-Meadows-14-07-_1208

I did find a large number of Hairstreaks feeding on Butterfly Plants and was able to get a few shots before heading back to Grantsburg for dinner.Hairstreak-gathering-14-07-_1204

I drove back out to Crex after dinner and found some young Pied-billed Grebes right along shore on Phantom Lake. I watched them for quite a while. The light was good late in the day for photographing them.Pied-billed-Grebe-14-7-_1914

I decided to photograph the sunset from the south end of Phantom Lake. I was disappointed that it wasn’t a better sunset given all of the clouds earlier in the day.Crex-Meadows-Sunset-14-07-_1243

The next morning I was up to capture some dawn photographs. My wife wasn’t along on this trip so I didn’t feel guilty about getting up around 4am. I stopped for some coffee and then drove out to Phantom lake to await for dawn. It was a beautiful dawn.Crex-Meadows-Sunrise-14-07-_0982

About an hour later the sun came up. There were not many clouds but there was a bit of ground fog on Phantom lake that made for some interesting shots.Crex-Meadows-Sunrise-14-07-_1087

After sunrise I spent quite a bit of time watching the Pied-billed Grebes feeding their young along the western edge of Phantom Lake. Unfortunately they were backlit so it was not a good time for pictures. This adult Grebe was feeding two fledglings. The one fledgling seemed to be getting all of the food. It would bide it’s time until the adult would surface with some food then dash to the adult so it would get the food. Finally the adult got fed up and dunked the fledgling and then chased it down the lake. I never saw it again. The remaining fledgling they got all of the food.Pied-billed-Grebes-14-7-_1627

There were a few Sandhill Cranes around. I photographed these in the fields at the north end of the Meadows. I did see one pair of adults with a colt but didn’t get any photographs.Sandhill-Cranes-14-7-_1662

It was well after sunrise and it was still relatively calm out. Normally I have trouble photographing flowers and small objects because the wind is usually blowing at a good clip. I photographed this Northern Bluet Damselfly along Phantom Lake.Northern-Bluet-Damselfly-14-7-_1862

I then started driving around Crex looking for flower photographs. This is a great time to photograph the wildflowers at Crex. The visitors center sells a nice book identifying the flowers found in the Grantsburg areaWood-Lilly-14-7-_1705