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Category Archives: Seney National Wildlife Refuge

We spent some time driving around Seney National Wildlife Refuge on our last trip to the U.P. It doesn’t have the best wildlife but it is a beautiful fall photography location. It was created during the depression when no one else wanted the land. It now has a variety of wildlife including a large number of Trumpeter Swans.

More photos from Seney National Wildlife Refuge can be found on my website.

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After a long day of photographing waterfalls and driving through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore we decided to drive through Sunset Seney National Wildlife Refuge just as the sun was starting to set. It was cloudy out and I didn’t expect much of a sunset but as it turned out it was spectacular.

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Last week we made our first fall road trip of the year. We actually made two different visits to Seney. We stopped on our drive up to Sault Ste Marie and we stopped again on our way back to Munising. The second visit was much more exciting. We had exited the freeway and were in the middle of nowhere and I happened to notice that we had 43 miles to go before we were out of gas. This never happens. We tried to pull up GasBuddy on our phone but didn’t have a signal. We pulled out the map but weren’t sure where we were. It looked like it we were closest to Sault Ste Marie so we turned around. Fortunately we found a gas station about 10 miles back down the road. When we we drove back toward Seney we checked the mileage to the first gas station. Turned out it was 43 miles from where we turned around. Not sure it actually had gas because there was only one ancient pump.

There was not a lot going on in Seney. There was not a lot of color yet. Some of the ferns offered a bright spot among the green.

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There were quite a few Trumpeter Swans in the various pools. On one pool they were surrounded by what I think are Wood Ducks. Apparently the Swans were able to reach the choice morsels at the bottom of the pool so the Wood Ducks just waited until the Swans brought it up before diving in and grabbing some.

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These two swans were standing in some shallow water grooming themselves.

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On another pool there were a group of Lesser Yellowlegs feeding.

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As we were exiting the Refuge we noticed this Red Squirrel sitting in a tree right next to the road. I was able to get quite close and he still didn’t move.

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Linda put together a show of eight of my photos at the Menomonie Public Library. She did all of the printing, matting and framing of the photos. I just took the pictures. They will be on display through the month of April.

There are four Landscape photos.

Now and Then Falls Amnicon Falls State Park

Now and Then Falls Amnicon Falls State Park

Apostle Islands Sea Cave

Apostle Islands Sea Cave Cornucopia, Wisconsin

Crex Meadows

Crex Meadows Grantsburg ,Wisconsin

Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Seney, Michigan

 

There are four wildlife Photos

Goslings

Goslings Hoffman Hills Recreation Area Menomonie, Wisconsin

Black Bear

Black Bear Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary Orr, Minnesota

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Canadian Hill Farm Menomonie, Wisconsin

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies Fontenac State Park Fontenac, Monnesota

 

It is sometimes difficult to hit the fall colors just right. I’ve had the most success visiting Ironwood at the end of September some of the other locations I try to judge the fall colors using the Wisconsin Fall Color Foliage Report.

Gile Flowage Sunrise

Gile Flowage Sunrise

I’m starting to think about fall color trips. Typically my fall season starts with a trip to Ironwood, Michigan at the end of September. My two favorite photograph locations are Gile Flowage. Gile Flowage is a great place to start the morning by photographing the sunrise.

Gile Flowage

Gile Flowage

Later in the day I like to drive over to Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill and make the trip to the top of the ski jump. There are some spectacular views from the top of the ski lift.

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill

In mid October I like to drive over to Munising, Michigan. This is probably one of the premier fall color locations in the country. While I’m in the area there are three locations I like to visit. The first is Hiawatha National Forest. There are quite a few lakes in the forest that offer some spectacular fall color shots. The leaves turn first in the National Forest. If you are really lucky you will be in the area when the snow falls on the colors.

Thornton Lake

Thornton Lake

A week or so later the colors will turn at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Hiking along the trails above the lake offer some unsurpassed scenery. If the weather cooperates a sunset cruse on the tour boats is well worth your time.

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While in the area I always try to visit Seney National Wildlife Refuge. It offers some spectacular sunrise and sunset opportunities as well as a chance to photograph wildlife.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunset

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunset

Toward the end of October I like to drive down to Baraboo, Wisconsin. There are some great photography locations in the area. Devils Lake State Park is always popular and can be crowed on a beautiful fall Day.

Devils Lake State Park

Devils Lake State Park

Gibraltar Rock offers some great views of the Wisconsin River Valley.

Gibraltar Rock

Gibraltar Rock

My favorite location is Pewits Nest. If you time it right the leaves can be outstanding. Pewits Nest is small natural gorge cut by Skillet Creek.

Pewits Nest

Pewits Nest

This fall we decided to drive from Munising over to the east end of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. On the way we would drive past Seney National Wildlife Area. There was some nice morning fog so we decided to drive over to Seney and check things out.

When we arrived there were already quite a few people on the wildlife loop taking photos. We soon found out what they were photographing. The heavy fog left  a lot of dew on the spider webs. In fact, there were hundreds of spider webs glistening in the sunshine.

There is also a large number of resident Trumpeter Swans in the various flowages. The fog was so thick that you could barely see some of them out on the flowages.

More photos from Seney can be found on my website.

This week our trip of the fall was a little more extensive. Our destination was Munising, Michigan. Our drive took us through central Wisconsin on highway 29. There were spots of color and some nice color around Shawano, Wisconsin. From there we headed north to Escanaba, Michigan. There wasn’t a lot of color on this portion on the trip. We then headed north on highway 2 . The objective was to catch highway H13 through Hiawatha National forest into Wetmore, Michigan. Although the first day was a little disappointing things picked up on subsequent days.

I wanted to check out the colors in Hiawatha National Forest and see where the good color was for the next morning. Our first stop was at Pete’s Lake. As you can see the color was not at its peak but it looked like a possibility. However, I was very disappointed to see that they had logged in the park. Many of the beautiful trees that I loved to photograph had been cut down.

Pete’s Lake

We then stopped at Moccasin, Thornton, and Big Twin Lakes on the way into Wetmore. I was again very disappointed because the lakes were extremely low with lots of weeds and other debris showing. The colors were not up to previous years. Many of the birch were just turning brown rather than turning a bright yellow. By the end of the lake visits I decided than it was not worth a sunrise visit because I already had better photos of these lakes. This shot was from several years ago.

Thornton Lake

After checking into our motel and having a bite to eat we headed out to my favorite sunset location at Miners Beach in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. About halfway to the beach we encountered road construction. The highway department had applied tar to one side of the road so traffic was one way. Normally in Wisconsin we apply tar with a pea gravel coating but apparently Michigan just uses tar. It wasn’t drying right so they were having to direct traffic on to a single lane. We continued on to Miners Beach. Elliott Falls was but a trickle and there was not a lot of color. The sunset wasn’t much but I took a few shots. We decided to leave early because of the road construction. The tar was still wet and they were still directing traffic after dark so I didn’t get any tar on the car.

Miners Beach

Given the lack of really good color around Munising we decided to drive over to Seney National Wildlife Area. On the way over there was fog in the low areas so I thought it might be interesting in Seney. I was right. There was a fog over most of the ponds. If you ever wondered how many spiders were around you got a good idea on this day. The heavy dew covered the spider webs and there were literally thousands of them glistening in the sun. Even many of the trees were covered in spider webs. Seney provided some great photography opportunities with the early morning fog. We also saw quite a few Trumpeter Swans, hawks, ducks and even a Blue Heron.

Trumpeter Swans

We then headed down highway 77 toward Grand Marais, Michigan with our eventual destination Au Sable Light Station. The trees along Highway 77 had some good color. In Grand Marais we checked out the work being done in the harbor. It is undergoing a major 30 million dollar renovation. They are in the process of dredging and rebuilding a  massive breakwater in the harbor. The new rock breakwater can be seen on the right.

Grand Marais Harbor

We headed out to Pictured Rocks with our first stop was the ranger station. As we drove into the parking lot we noticed a truck with a stunning photo on the door and Petersen Photography below it. When we went into the station Paul Peterson was talking with the rangers. Petersen was an Artist in Residence at Pictured Rocks.  Check out his website for some great photos. When we drove through Grand Marais we noticed a sign for the Lake Superior Brewing Company. My wife ask how the food was and it was given rave reviews for the food and beer. We decided it would be worth a visit later in the day.

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

We drove on to the Hurricane River where the trail to Au Sable Light Station starts. We don’t walk the trail because walking the beach is much more interesting. The 1.5 mile walk is along a combination of beach and rocks. Depending upon the water levels and wave action you should have no problem hiking along the beach. Along the way there are a number of old ship wrecks that can be found. The first is not far from the Hurricane River parking lot and the others are just before the Light Station. This year the lake appeared to be low and the wrecks were more exposed than I had seen them in the past. It was a beautiful day for a walk and photography.

Ship Wreck

After the hike we decided to drive back to Grand Marais and have an early dinner at the Lake Superior Brewing Company. It was well worth the drive back to Grand Marais. The food and beer were as advertised with a nice variety of both. The only problem I had was there was too much food. I’ve been trying to lose a little weight and having a half pound olive hamburger with fries didn’t help.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Beach

After dinner we decided to drive back along highway H58 to Grand Marais. The colors were outstanding with the late evening backlighting. I suspect they will reach their peak around the first weekend in October. On the drive back we stopped at Kingston Plains in the Lake Superior State Forest to take a few photos. This area was repeatedly burned off during the logging era. It is speculated that the fires were so hot that it virtually sterilized the earth. Trees are growing now but it has been a long process of regeneration.

Kingston Plains

We expected to reach the Munising area around sunset and normally would have stopped at Miners Beach but decided that they were probably still working on the road and I didn’t want to risk getting my car covered with tar. Our second choice for sunset photos was Sand Point in Munising. As we drove past Munising Falls I noticed that the parking lot had recently been tarred. This should have raised some red flags but it didn’t. After a couple of miles we could see that they had traffic control setup and had tarred one side of the road. We decided to head back to the motel. Too bad because it looked like a nice sunset. This photo was taken at an earlier sunset.

Sand Point Sunset

On day three we planned to take the short drive over to Marquette, Michigan. We have never stayed in Marquette and wanted to check out the photography opportunities for a future visit. We stopped at Au train Falls and Laughing Whitefish Falls along the way. Laughing Whitefish Falls was outstanding in terms of fall color but there was not a lot of water going over the falls. The fall colors on the drive to Marquette were good and probably will peak the first weekend in October.

Laughing Whitefish Falls

Our first stop in Marquette was the visitors center. It was well worth the stop. The individual who helped us was one of the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic that I’ve ever met in a visitors center. He gave us all kinds of tips on where to go and what the fall colors would be like. So many tips that it would take a long weekend to take it all in. Since this was a reconnaissance mission we are now well informed for a for a much longer visit in the future.

Marquette Harbor Lighthouse

We drove out along Lakeshore Boulevard to check out the sites along the Marquette waterfront. It was a beautiful day for sightseeing and photography. The highlights of the waterfront were the ore docks and the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. This looks like a great place for some sunrise photography.

Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad ore dock

We drove out of town to  Presque Isle Park and drove the loop. This is going to be well worth a longer visit. There is a location to take sunset photographs and that’s on our list for next time.

Presque Isle Park

We decided to head up to Big Bay which is about 30 miles up the coast. The visitors center recommended a number of stops along the way and we had already noted some nice hiking trails to waterfalls. One of the recommended stops along the way was Sugarloaf Mountain. When we arrived the parking lot was full and there were cars parked all along the road. This was definitely a hot spot on a beautiful fall day. The trail to the top was well developed and nice sturdy steps had been constructed. I heard someone say that there were 182 steps but I didn’t count them. We later found out there are 304 wooden steps. The view from the top was an outstanding 360 degree view and well worth the hike. As you can see the fall colors were nice but they should really be good the first weekend in October.

Sugarloaf Mountain

We drove on to Big Bay and decided to drive out to the Big Bay Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is now a bed and breakfast but the grounds are open to the public from 10am to 4pm. We made it with 15 minutes to spare. What a beautiful location to enjoy the serenity of Lake superior. We then headed back to Marquette and after a late dinner called it a day.

Big Bay Lighthouse

On day four we headed down toward Bruce Crossing, Michigan. Our main destination for the day was Bond Falls. The colors were nice all the way to Bond Falls although there was quite a bit of fog along the first part of the trip. I told my wife we had to more it along because it would be crowded at the falls. She didn’t think very many people would be out on a Sunday morning. I thought there would and the bet was that we would see more than 30 people. Looser buys the ice cream.

Bond Falls

As it turned out I was right there were more than 30 people at the falls but not as many as I expected and I only saw three other serious photographers. I’ve made many visits to Bond Falls but this is the first time I’ve been able to visit at the peak of fall colors. Bond Falls is probably the most photographed waterfall in Michigan and for good reason. There is a lot to photograph and since the falls is below a dam the water levels are good even during this year’s drought.

Bond Falls Z

We then headed home after a very successful trip. The colors are nearing their peak all over northern Wisconsin and the U.P.

It’s the time of year when I start getting excited about the fall colors. Already some states have their fall color reports active. I started thinking about the places I would like to travel to this fall and came up with a list of my top 5 destinations. I’ve listed the ironwood area first because, for some reason, the leaves turn in this area before they do in any other area.

Ironwood, Michigan

Gile Flowage– is located just south of Ironwood, Michigan. What I like about Gile Flowage is that you can photograph at sunrise and sunset and get some great photos. In fact, at both times you can photograph the color of the trees and just turn around and then photograph the rising or setting sun.

Gile Flowage Sunrise

 

Gile Flowage Sunrise

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hillis the largest ski jump in the world and the top of the jump is nearly 1200 feet above lake Superior. On a clear day you can see for over 40 miles. Lake Superior and the Porcupine Mountains are visible from the top. The ski jump is open on weekends during fall color season.

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill

 Black Riveris just down the road from Copper Peak and offers some great fall views of waterfalls along the Black River.

Rainbow Falls

  Munising, Michigan

Hiawatha National Forestis located just south of Munising and offers some great photography opportunities along the many lakes in the area. The peak colors in the national forest are usually a week or so before the colors in Pictured Rocks. Most of the lakes are best photographed early in the morning. More information can be found in an earlier Blog.

Thorton Lake

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshoreoffers some spectacular photo opportunities. The fall sunset boat cruise is not to be missed. The many mile of hiking trails through the park offer a wide range of subjects for photography.

Grand Portal Point

Seney National Wildlife Refugeis located at the eastern end of Pictured Rocks and offers some great chances for sunset and sunrise photography. Large numbers of Trumpeter Swans can be found in the Refuge.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunset

WaterfallsThere are a large number of great waterfalls within a short drove of Munising. This is a shot of Laughing Whitefish Falls.

Laughing Whitefish Falls

 Baraboo, Wisconsin

 Pewits Nestis located in the southern part of Wisconsin just outside Baraboo. It’s a small gorge with a stream flowing through it. The top of the gorge is covered with large maple trees. If you hit it right the maple trees are spectacular. The gorge itself is worth the trip even after most of the leaves have fallen.

Pewits Nest

Devils Lake State ParkIs also located just outside of Baraboo. It is one of the premier Wisconsin parks and a popular destination any time of the year but particularly in the fall. We usually combine the trip with a visit to Ski-Hi Fruit Farm which lies just outside the park.

Devil’s Lake State Park

Gibraltar RockIs just a short drive from Baraboo and offers some stunning views of the Wisconsin River valley. We usually combine a visit to Gibraltar rock with a trip on the Merrimac Ferry which crosses the Wisconsin River at Merrimac Wisconsin.

Gibraltar Rock

Minnesota North Shore

There are photography opportunities all along the Minnesota North Shore from Duluth, Minnesota to Grand Portage State Park on the Canadian Border. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites. The fall leaves turn first in the interior away from the lake. The Maples turn earlier than the Birch. Generally it will take several trips at different times to take in all of the fall color along the North Shore. If the leaves disappoint the Lake will not so there is always something to photograph.

 Gooseberry Falls State ParkThis is usually my first stop on any trip to the North Shore. I try to time my visit so I’m not there on a weekend because it is one of the most popular parks in Minnesota.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

 Tettegouche State Park –  They are building a new visitors center at the park so the visitors center will closed for the fall 2012 season. Lots of nice hiking trails into the back country.

Mic Mac Lake

Oberg Mountain – My favorite place for fall photographs on the North Shore. The top of Oberg Mountain offers stunning 360 degrees of the surrounding forests and Lake Superior.

Oberg Mountain

 Cascade River State Park is a great place to photograph any time of the year but it can be beautiful in the fall if the water level is high. Best photographed early in the morning or late in the day when the cascades are in the shade and provide a uniform light.

Cascade River

Grand Portage State Parkis located on the border with Canada. It offers spectacular views of the highest waterfall in Minnesota. Late in the fall color season the Birch Trees at the top of the falls turn brilliant colors. If you happen to be there late in the day the sun will highlight the fall colors while the falls is in the shade.

High Falls

 Crex Meadows

Crex Meadows stands alone as a destination for photography. It is a great place to photograph fall colors, sunrises and sunsets. It is also the one of the best locations in the country to photograph the fall migration of the Sandhill Cranes. You will want to plan on spending the night in Grantsburg, Wisconsin so you can take in the evening and morning flights of the cranes. About an hour before sunset the cranes start returning to the meadows. Folks bring their lawn chairs and just sit and watch them fly into their rousting grounds. You can return to the same location at sunrise and watch the cranes leaving to feed for the day in the surrounding fields. During the day you can drive the back roads south of town to watch the cranes feeding. Make sure you make the trip this year because if the Wisconsin creates a Sandhill Crane hunt you may not be able to see this spectacular event in future years. I have more details on photographing at Crex in an earlier Blog.

Sunset Crex Meadows

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes Sunset Flight

We normally make a trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in early June. This year we were busy with other things and this past weekend was the first chance we had to make the trip. It’s a long drive so we ended up taking a four day weekend for the trip.

Day 1

The first day is normally a long driving day. It takes about seven hours to reach Pictured Rocks and usually a little longer if we make any stops. The weather report was for a cloudy day so we decided to try and stop at some waterfalls in order to break up the trip.

Bond Falls

The first stop was at one of my favorite waterfalls, Bond Falls. It had been cloudy the entire trip and I like to shoot waterfalls on cloudy or overcast days because it provides a more even light. As luck would have it as soon as we reached Bond Falls the sun came out. I seemed to be cursed on my visits to Bond Falls. The trip to the falls is generally made with overcast skies and as soon as I arrive the Sun comes out. Bond falls is below a dam so there is always a good flow of water over the falls. This shot was made at a small waterfall above the main falls.

Ferns

Our second stop of the day was at Canyon Falls which is just a short driving distance from Bond Falls and was on our way to Munising. I thought the U.P. might have received some of the heavy rains that came through Northern Wisconsin the past few weeks and hoped that the water level was high but it didn’t happen. The water levels were low for this time of year and the falls did not offer particularly good photographic opportunities. This is a shot of some ferns growing on the wall above the falls.

Elliot Falls

Sunset Miners Beach

Because of our stops we didn’t reach Munising late in the day. We grabbed a bite to eat before heading out to Miners Beach at Pictured Rocks. I normally photograph sunsets from Miners Beach. It can offer some spectacular sunsets and there is a small waterfall that it a popular photography location. This was one of the few visits when there was no one else on the beach. It is still early season in the U.P. so there were not a lot of other folks around at any of the locations we visited. My wife noticed that there were quite a few flies attracted to her boots but I didn’t notice them. It turned out this was significant but we didn’t realize how significant until the next Day. The shot on the left shows the sunset. I’ve seen a lot better at Miners Beach but it was still nice. The lake was very calm so there wasn’t much wave action. The shot on the right shows Elliot Creek Falls as it emerges from forest.

Day 2

Pictured Rocks

Day two was a scheduled hiking day. We decided to drive back to Miners Beach and hike from Miners Beach over to Mosquito Beach. It’s about a six mile round trip and it was our first time on this portion of the Lakeshore Trail. The first few hundred yards are very steep and hard on someone with bad hamstrings. There were a wide variety of flowers out but not a lot of each type of flower. It looked like in a week the woods will once again be carpeted with wild flowers. There are some good places to view the lakeshore from along this portion of the Trail.

Sand Patterns

Birch Tree

On the second observation point we got an inkling of what was to come. We walked out into the sand and were immediately covered with Stable Flies. We quickly headed back onto the main trail but the flies remained with us. It made for a miserable day because every stop we picked up more flies. For the most part they just hang on to your clothes but they will bite exposed skin. The last thing you want to do on a warm day is wear long pants and shirts but it is the best course of action. Fortunately they don’t cause large welts when they do bite. Insect repellents have no effect on them. We later found out that they cluster along the beach on hot days, it was close to 80 degrees, when the wind is out of the south. We ended up hiking the entire trip without any breaks. Three young people had started out hiking ahead of us and we met them as they were running back to the trailhead. This was our first and hopefully last experience with Stable Flies. They were out early this year. One of the rangers said they were first seen in May this year. The shot on the right shows some sand patterns at Mosquito Beach and the left is of a Birch Tree with the lake in the background.

Wagner Falls

The presence of Sable Flies considerably reduced out options for the day’s activities. We ended up going back to the motel and watching a Euro 2012 football game. Later in the day it clouded up so we had an early dinner and then went out to photograph some waterfalls. Fortunately there are quite a few waterfalls in Munising. I think there are six of them and we stopped at four of them during the evening before driving out to sand point and hiking a short  nature trail. This is a shot of Wagner Falls just outside town.

Day 3

Day three was supposed to be another hiking day. We had planned to drive to the Hurricane River campground then hike along the beach to Au Sable Lighthouse. We love hiking along the beach because it isn’t all sand and offers a variety of scenery. It is also nice because the wind is usually blowing and there are no mosquitoes.  On the drive to Hurricane River we stopped at Twelve Mile Beach to check on fly conditions. As we exited the car we were immediately engulfed in Stable Flies. Well the best laid plans just went out the window and the flies came in. It took us most of the day to get all of the flies out of the car.

Goslings

Our original plans were to hike  for most of the day then drive over to Seney National Wildlife Refuge late in the day. With Stable Flies at all of the beaches we decided to drive directly over to Seney and forget about hiking along the lakeshore. It was around noon when we arrived at Seney so we didn’t expect to see a lot of wildlife activity as we drove around the refuge. We drove the Fishing Loop and part of the Marshland Wildlife Drive. On the Fishing Loop we could see how close the recent wildfires had gotten to the main public roads in the refuge. There were a few birds out and we did see some Canada Geese Goslings that weren’t very old.

Boats

Since there wasn’t a lot going on in the refuge we decided we had enough time to drive over to Tahquamenon Falls before returning for some sunset photography. We had visited the Upper Falls on a trip the previous fall so we decided to try the Lower Falls this trip. I had seen better water levels and more interesting water action on previous trips so I concentrated on photographing people enjoying the river. This is a shot of the boat rental area.

Trumpeter Swans

We then drove back to Seney and had dinner at a local bar before heading back out to the Wildlife Refuge. It was about six in the evening and we had about four hours to kill before sunset. We ended up taking the Marshland Wildlife Drive twice before sunset. There was a lot to see. Seney has a large number of Trumpeter Swans. Captive swans were introduced over twenty years ago and they have flourished at Seney and are a common sight on the refuge. This is a shot of Trumpeter Swan Cygnets feeding with one of the parents. We were able to observe them for a long period of time. While they were in deeper water the cygnets would wait while the adult fed off of

Cygnet

the bottom. The adult would then bring up food from the bottom for the cygnets. The cygnets would rush over to feed on the material the adult brought up. We observed two different pair of adults. One pair had two cygnets and the other pair had four. In both cases we were able to stand on the shore and eventually they came right up to the shoreline to feed. The adults didn’t seem to be too concerned with our presence. This was definitely the highlight of our visit.

In addition to the swans we saw many other birds including Grebes, Kingfishers, Kingbirds, Loons and Canada Geese. In one location there were a bunch of Canada Geese with their teenage offspring that didn’t want to get out of the road. Every time we drove past they would run down the center of the road in front of the car until finally moving off toward the lake.

Muskrat

We also saw White-tailed Deer with their fawns walking along the road. Muskrats and Beaver were abundant late in the day. They were, well, working like beavers. In a couple of cases we could see what appeared to be small islands moving through the water. The beaver were moving so much material we could hardly see the beavers. We found this Muskrat eating on a tree that had fallen into the water.

Sunset

We made one last drive, our fourth trip of the day, around the Marshland Wildlife Drive in order to photograph the sunset. I have The Photographer’s Ephemeris loaded onto my Android phone so as we made earlier trips through the refuge I used it to pick out some good locations for sunset and sunrise shots. The sunset was good but not spectacular. Unfortunately there were clouds along the horizon so the sunset didn’t last as long as we hoped.

Seney Sunset

Nothing will top the sunset photo I managed to capture last year on our fall trip to Seney National Wildlife Refuge. There were a number of Contrails in the sky at sunset and they combined with the clouds to create a spectacular image.

Day 4

Sunrise

On day four we packed up and headed out for some Sunrise photography. Fortunately, we were on eastern time so sunrise wasn’t until six in the morning rather than five. The extra hour of sleep was welcome after a long day three. When we woke up the sky was filled with clouds so I wasn’t optimistic that we would have a good sunrise. As it turns out the sunrise only lasted for about fifteen minutes before the clouds took over and it started raining. I was able to get a few shots off before things went south.

The plan was to drive down to Manistique, Michigan for breakfast. The local Big Boy had fast internet service so we used the service to check on possible waterfall locations on the route home. I knew that Marinette County has a number of waterfalls but didn’t know where they were located. As it turned out a number of them were located along our route home. All of the falls were located in county parks. The admission fee is three dollars for the day and allows you to visit all of the parks.

Smalley Falls

Our first stop was at Smalley falls. This is a delightful little waterfall that is just a short hike from the parking lot. There are a wide variety of shots to be had if you are interested in taking intimate waterfall scenes. If I had been willing to wade into the stream there would have been a few more shots. Next time I’m going we bring my waders.

Long Slide Falls

The second waterfall was Long Slide Falls. Again this was located in a county park and was only a short walk from the parking lot. Unfortunately it is difficult if not impossible to photograph the entire falls in one shot but there are smaller portions that can be photographed. The area around the falls is quite steep and since I’m no longer an agile youngster I decided to use discretion and probably missed some good shots because of it.

Daves Falls

The last waterfall we stopped at was Dave’s Falls. Again it is difficult to get a good shot of the entire falls but there are intimate shots of portions of the falls to be had. It had been raining so the rocks were wet and I again used discretion and didn’t try for a spectacular shot.

This was our last stop on the way home. The remaining portion of the trip was a little more exciting than we would have liked. We encountered severe storms west of Wausau, Wisconsin. The wind and driving rain/hail forced us to pull off of the road several times. To make matters worse Verizon seemed to be having some problems with their network connections so we couldn’t follow the storm on our cell phones. We eventually did make it home safely.

I was taking a last look at my 2011 photos before sending them off to storage and decided to write a brief review of the years photographic experiences.

January

Things started off with a bang with an early winter blizzard. Not only did January bring lots of snow locally but it created some fantastic ski conditions in the upper Midwest. We made a number of ski trips to the U.P. of Michigan. Our favorite ski location was Swedetown. This is a shot taken on the Backcountry Trail. Unfortunately the log was removed because the groomer could no longer get  the groomer under it with all of the snow.

Swedetown Backcountry Trail

 February

February was highlighted by a trip to the Apostle Islands Dog Sled Races in Bayfield, Wisconsin. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a bunch of excited dogs as I did in the morning before the race started. The whole parking area was a scene of bedlam. Things were much different in the afternoon when they returned from a day of racing. There wasn’t a sound to be heard from the dogs. Their tongues were hanging out and all they wanted to do was eat and lay down. It’s a trip will worth taking for the family because you can get so close to the dogs.

Off and Racing

March

In late March we were planning one last trip to Lake Superior. Unfortunately nature had one last blizzard in store for us and were snowed in for a couple of days before the township was able to get all of the roads plowed. This was a massive storm that was supposed to hit the Duluth area with lots of snow. The weather pattern changed at the last minute and the snow dropped down into our area. When we did make the trip north we found almost no snow in the Duluth area. We had hoped to find some ice along Lake Superior but there was almost none to be found. When we stopped at Tettegouche State Park we asked the  ranger if there was any ice around. That started a surreal day of hiking through great fields of ice formations. The saga was documented in an earlier postfrom that day. The storm that brought us snow brought a strong Northeaster to the North Shore and created fantastic ice sculptures.

Tettegouche State Park

 April

April brought another trip to the Minnesota North Shore. Amazingly most of the ice was gone and the spring snow melt was under way. This is a shot of the Cascades in Cascade Falls State Park.

The Cascades

 May

The highlight of May was a visit to my bird feeder of a pair of Scarlet Tanagers. I have rarely seen Tanagers and had never gotten photos of them. The male showed up one day and as soon as I saw what it was I raced for a camera. I photographed the male and then the next day the female turned up at the feeder. They were both feeding on suet. By the third day they were gone.

Scarlet Tanager male

 June

In June I made another trip to the Minnesota North Shore. Driving south from Grand Marais I noticed the fog moving in and out around Bluefin Bay. I stopped at a gas station for some coffee and then drove back to watch the fog in the early morning light.

Bluefin Bay

 July

I July I spend most of my time photographing insects and flowers. I happened to catch this Honey Bee on a Milkweed plant that was just starting to bloom.

Honey Bee

 August

August brought an invasion of Clearwing Hummingbird Moths. I had seen them along the Red Cedar River several years ago but had never seen them on my farm or at Hoffman Hills. This year they were everywhere so I spend a considerable effort to try and photograph them. I suspect I will never see as many again.

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

 September

In early September my wife and I made a trip through the U.P. of Michigan. We had planned on spending an night in Seney so we could photograph the sunset at Seney Wildlife Area. Through a stroke of luck I managed to capture my favorite photo of the year. We had not seen clouds during the day but as evening approached clouds formed in the western sky. We were late in arriving at Seney and sunset was already well underway. In addition, there were some contrails in the sky. I wasn’t happy to see them but continued to photograph the sunset. As the evening progressed th clouds and contrails combined to create an image of an eagle in sky making for a memorable photo.

Seney Sunset

 October

One of the benefits of living in the upper Midwest is the fall color displays. I had to work hard to capture them this year because just as the fall color season was starting strong winds also started blowing. They continued throughout the fall and took the leaves down almost as soon as they peaked. This photo was taken in Rusk County in northern Wisconsin.

Rusk County

 November

In November I usually make my way to Crex Meadows near Grantsburg, Wisconsin to photograph the fall Sandhill Crane migration. In November there can be as many as 14,000 Sandhill Cranes residing in Crex. On this particular day I had intended to drive out to where the cranes were roosting and not bother to stop for sunrise shots at Phantom Lake. As I drove past Phantom Lake I realized that there was going to be a spectacular sunrise. This was my favorite fall shot taken shortly after the sun came up.

Phantom Lake Sunrise

 December

December was one of the slowest photography months I’ve had. We had virtually no snow until a 6 inch wet snowfall the first week in December. My wife and I quickly drove down to the Red Cedar Trail to take advantage of the fresh snow. Fortunately we did because it quickly melted and Christmas looked more like Thanksgiving with brown grass and no snow. This is the bridge over the Red Cedar River.

Red Cedar Trail Bridge