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Category Archives: Trumpeter Swan

We made a late spring visit to Crex Meadows last week. Our first stop was a Bald Eagle nest on Phantom Lake Road. One of the adults was sitting by the nest and there were two young in the nest. It looked like they were just about ready to leave the nest.

When we reached Phantom Lake we found a number of pairs of Canada Geese with their young. This adult seemed to be upset with something and it kept chasing other geese.

There were a number of pairs of Trumpeter Swans with their young. The adults were furiously churning the water. I assume to free plants from the bottom so they would float to the surface and the Cygnets could feed on them.

One of the popular attractions this year has been Killdeer nesting in the roads around the flowage.

We also found this Leatherback Turtle laying eggs along the road.

The spring flowers were out in the meadows. Indian Paintbrush and Yellow Water Lilies were common.

We encountered a number of White-tailed Deer in our drive through the meadows.

The young ducks have also hatched and could be found on the flowages.

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.

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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.

The Trumpeter Swans have returned to Hudson, Wisconsin again this year. When we stopped there were over a hundred of them in a small area on the Saint Croix River. It was very cold out an many of them were huddled on the ice.

There appeared to be an argument going on. This happens every so often when a number of Swans head toward one another and a dust-up takes place.

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While we were watching a small flight of Swans came in. This one almost landed on top of a couple of other Swans.

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This young Swan seemed to be doing his mid-day stretching exercises.

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This swan was eating along the edge of the ice just before climbing up onto the ice to rest.

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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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Last week we made our first summer visit to Crex Meadows since returning from Iceland. Things have really changed since our last visit. The large amount rain we received in May and June has raised the water levels in the ponds and really made the vegetation grow. In some places it is difficult to photograph from the car because the grass is so high along the road.

We found some Wood Ducks sitting on a log. On our second pass around the Meadows this one was still sitting there and posed for me. It’s the first Wood Duck I’ve been able to photograph up close and my first one at Crex.

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The ducklings were all over the place. It was fun to watch them making their way through the lily pads.

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This Red-winged Blackbird landed next to the road. I had my wife drive up to it and it didn’t move. I was able to get some great shots before moving on.

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We found this fledgling sitting in the road. When we stopped it hopped into the foliage along the road and sat there while I took its picture. I think it was a young Red-winged Blackbird.

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There were lots of Trumpeter Swans around with their young. They looked to be teenagers now.

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We drove past a Bald Eagle nest on the north side of the refuge. It had one eagle in it. The wind was blowing and it seemed to be testing its wings into the wind. I will probably be gone from the nest very soon.

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A short time later we encountered two Sandhill Cranes walking through the Prairie.

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I’ve photographed Great Blue Herons before at Crex but this is probably the best photo of them that I’ve gotten.

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It was a great day for bird photography.

We were off to Duluth for a few days and decided to drive though Grantsburg an visit Crex Meadows. As we neared Grantsburg we  saw over a dozen Trumpeter swans in the fields feeding. We turned around and drove back along a sided road and watched them for a while. It was still early and the fields had not been prepared for spring planting.

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As we drove out along Phantom Lake we noticed some Sandhill Cranes walking along the road. In all we probably saw over 40 Sandhill Cranes on the day.Sandhill-Cranes-Crex-Meadows-16-4-_2733

There were many Trumpeter Swans in the Meadows. This one was nesting right along the road. If it stays on the nest we will have a good view of the young when they hatch. In all we saw over 40 Trumpeter Swans.Trumpeter-Swan-Crex-Meadows-16-4-_2245

As we wove through the Meadows we noticed some dark shapes along the road. It was difficult to see what they were. At first we though maybe bears. As we inched closed they appeared to be Turkeys or Turkey Vultures. When we approached them they took off. It turns out they were Bald Eagles. There were about a half dozen of them in all. We watched them flying around and then noticed the trees were also filled with them. We saw 15 Bald Eagles without moving. Most of them were immature. The one in the middle has quite a bit of red around the head. It appears it man have been feeding on a carcass.Bald-Eagles-Crex-Meadows-16-4-_2310

There were also quite a variety of duck in the water throughout the Meadows.Mallard-Duck-Crex-Meadows-16-4-_2351

I’ve only visited Crex Meadows in the winter a couple of time. My wife and I drove through Crex the last week in February to see if there was any activity. We did see four pair of Trumpeter Swans. There was very little open water in the flowages but they were already guarding their nesting territory. We also saw a pair of mature Bald Eagles sitting by a nest. With the recent warm weather there should be more activity in the flowages.

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A few days of nice skiing before the weekend rains took us down to the ice wall on the Red Cedar State Trail. On the way back we encountered several Trumpeter Swans. With the warm weather and the open water they seem to be dispersing to new locations.

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As I mentioned in an earlier blog there were fewer Swans in their usual spot on the St. Croix River. It looked like they were more dispersed because of the availability of open water. The fact there were fewer of them made it easier to take their photograph without the distraction of a large number of birds.

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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.

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The Mallard Ducks were also active. I captured this sequence of photos as one landed in the water near me.

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I also captured a sequence of photos of a Mallard Duck taking a bath then exiting the water.

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