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Category Archives: Ring-necked Duck

We recently spent a morning driving around Crex Meadows. During a stop at the visitors center we found that several eagles had been spotted earlier in the morning. We were lucky to find they were still hanging around. This one was sitting by the nest. A little later in the morning we noticed it was hunting on Phantom Lake. When it caught a fish it went back to the nest were we were able to watch it feeding its young.

Bald Eagle

We did not spot many Sandhill Cranes. This one was near the road. I suspect most of the others were nesting deeper in the marshes.

We could see Trumpeter Swans nesting but they were all quite some distance from the road. We did encounter three non nesting swans in a small pool.

We found this pair of Ring-necked Ducks in a small pond.

Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds around the area.

The muskrats were very active throughout the flowages.

We noticed this Killdeer ahead of us so we stopped. It was very accommodating and walked right up to us and posed for photos.

The marsh grass provided some interesting patterns. In the second photo the area had recently been burned providing for a variety of colors as it started to grow again.

The Lily Pads were starting to grow now that the ice is off of the flowages.

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.

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

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

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

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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.

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I had hoped to get up to Crex during spring ice out but with 80 degree temperatures in March the ice went fast and I didn’t make it. This week I finally was able to make the trip. As I normally do I arrive in the late afternoon and tour the Meadows to see what is going on. After dinner I drive around again for some evening shots and hopefully some sunset shots. The next morning I go back out for some sunrise shots and spend the morning driving round.

American Coots

Ring-necked Duck

There wasn’t a lot to see in the afternoon. I managed to capture some shots of various ducks mainly in Phantom Lake. There were quite a few Ring-necked Ducks along with some American Coots, Blue-winged Teal, Mallards and a nesting pair of Red-necked Grebes.

Canada Geese

There were also lots of Canada Geese with their little ones all along the dike roads. As I approached they would run in every direction. They were growing fast and were starting to lose their yellow down. For some reason when I approached they always wanted to go to the other side of the road. I really had to be careful because the parents would walk across the road with most of the little ones but stragglers would keep popping out of the weeds and dash across the road.

American Beaver

As a drove south along Phantom Lake I noticed a beaver house and what looked like a beaver sitting along the water’s edge. There was enough vegetation so I couldn’t get a good look. After dinner I drove back to where I thought I had seen the beaver. Sure enough there was one swimming in the flowage alongside the dike road. I’m not sure what he was up to since he kept swimming back and forth but didn’t seemed to be engaged in any meaningful activity. After shooting for about ten minutes went to pick up my tripod and managed drag one leg in the road. This apparently startled the beaver and there was a loud sound as the beaver slapped its tail and went under.

American Beaver

As I walked back to the car I noticed a second beaver across the road. He seemed to be trying to figure out why the alarm was sounded by the first Beaver. Soon he went back to eating on a branch he had in the water. I watched him for another ten minutes before leaving. That evening I probably saw six or seven beaver.

In addition to the beaver there quite a few muskrats active in the flowages.

Sunset

Sunset was a little disappointing. I thought it might be spectacular because there quite a few clouds but clear sky on the western horizon. I spent my time photographing the sunset along Dike 1 flowage. in this shot a group of Sandhill Cranes were captured with the sunset in the background.

Sunrise

In the morning my alarm didn’t go off but I manage to wake up only about 15 minutes later than I wanted to. As I drove out to the Meadows I could see it wasn’t going to be a spectacular sunrise so I picked a spot along Phantom Lake to photograph what there was to it.

Pickerelweed

I like to photograph reeds and flowers in the water on my visits to Crex. It was a little early for water flowers. The Pickerelweed and Lilly Pads were just emerging and there were only a few reeds up yet. A variety of flowers are also out now including Lupine, Hoary Puccoon, and Birds-foot Violets

Black Bear

As I was driving along one of the back roads I noticed something large and black along the road. It turned out to be a large black bear. This is the second year in a row that I’ve seen a black bear at Crex. Last year one ran out in front of the car and ran in front of the car for about 70 yards. He was going about 20 miles an hour. I had three cameras on the front seat and still managed not to get a photo. This year I had the presence of mind to get a quick shot through the windshield.

Sandhill Crane

I also was lucky enough to see two pair of Sandhill Cranes with their chicks. In both cases they were walking along the dike roads. In the first instance I didn’t notice the chicks until both parents had crossed the road. The chicks then dashed out into the road following their parents. I watched them in the grass for a while but could only see brief glimpses of the chicks in the tall grass. All the time the parents were making a sound something like a cooing Morning Dove. I assume this was so the chicks could find them in the long grass.

Sandhill Cranes

The second pair were near the entrance to the dike road at Phantom Lake. I saw the parents trying to get across the road but another car was coming so one made it and the other did not. One of the parents walked along the road doing a killdeer routine pretending to be an injured bird. The other parented walked along the lake. When the second car left I could hear the one parent making the cooing sound so I waited and sure enough a couple of chicks came out of the grass along the road.

It was a good trip with my first shot of a Black Bear, Sandhill Crane Chicks and a Gopher.

More photos of Crex Meadows in the spring can be found on my website.