Skip navigation

Category Archives: Wood Duck

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.

seney-national-wildlife-refuge-16-9-1858

seney-national-wildlife-refuge-16-9-2690

ferns-seney-national-wildlife-refuge-16-9-3390
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.

trumpeter-swan-seney-national-wildlife-refuge-16-9-3325
These two swans were standing in some shallow water grooming themselves.

trumpeter-swans-seney-national-wildlife-refuge-16-9-3419
On another pool there were a group of Lesser Yellowlegs feeding.

lesser-yellowlegs-seney-national-wildlife-refuge-16-9-3407
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.

red-squirrel-seney-national-wildlife-refuge-16-9-3315

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.

Wood-Duck-Crex-Meadows-16-6-_8372

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

Ducklings-16-6-_8358

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.

Red-winged-Blackbird-Crex-Meadows-16-6-_8328

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.

Fledgling-Red-winged-Blackbird-16-6-_8366

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

Trumpeter-Swans-Crex-Meadows-16-6-_8338

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.

Fledgling-Bald-Eagle-Crex-Meadows-16-6-_8361

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

Sandhill-Cranes-16-6-_8362

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

Great-Blue-Heron-Crex-Meadows-16-6-_8376

It was a great day for bird photography.

One evening my wife and I decided to drive down the road to a small pond along the road. Earlier in the day we had seen some Wood Ducks in the pond. They usually show up in the spring before disappearing.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

On the way down we noticed this Sandhill Crane feeding in a field. This is becoming a common sight in Wisconsin.

Sandhill-Crane-16-5-_5339

It’s been a wonderful spring at Hoffman Hills Wetlands. Hofmann Hills consists of three distinct areas, woodlands, prairie and wetlands. Most visitors spend their time hiking to the tower located on a hill in the woodlands. I spend most of my time walking in the wetlands. That’s really where the action is in the spring. This has been an unusual spring. It has been very warm and when the Weeping Willows bloomed in March they were spectacular.

One of the reasons my wife and I visit Hoffman Hills in the spring to watch the Canada Geese. We’ve been doing this for almost ten years now. For the first five years there was only a single pair of geese that nested on an island in a small pond. They normally arrive around the first of April and the goslings hatch around the first of May.

Best Friends

This year we saw them off of the nest on the third of April. While the female was on the nest we frequently saw a pair of male Mallards with the female. This is something we have never seen before.

Goslings

We were really surprised when we went out to Hoffman Hills on the twenty fourth of April and found the female was no longer on the nest and the male was not to be found. After searching for them we finally found them on another pond with their eight gosling. There was also a second pair of non breading Canada Geese with them. When we approached several of the goslings went off with the non breeding pair. I didn’t have my camera with me and were out of town for several days. When we returned we stopped to check on the gosling and they were no longer around. We haven’t seen them since the first sighting. This is the first time I’ve not been able to photograph them before they left the ponds. This is a shot of last years hatch.

Canada Geese

For the past three years there has been a second Pair of Canada Geese that have raised their young at Hoffman Hills. We have never been able to find where they nested but they would usually show up with their goslings at about the same time as the pair on the island hatched theirs. This year they did not return. About the middle of April a pair of Geese appeared but they were apparently a non breading pair. As noted above they were with the breeding pair when we saw the goslings.

Mad Goose

A couple of weeks ago a second non breading pair of Canada Geese turned up at the ponds. Sometimes both pair are on the same pond other times they are on different ponds. If one pair is on a pond and the second pair flies into the same pond there is usually a fight that takes place with the pair the just landed taking off after the pair that was on the pond.

Wood Ducks

There have also been several pair of Wood Ducks that have been hanging out in the ponds. It’s been hard to get a shot of them because they are usually a little skittish. Generally we see them early in the spring but even though there are some nesting boxes out they don’t seem to use them.

Muskrat

Muskrat

In the past several years we’ve seen Muskrats in the ponds. They seem to be a bit shy and I haven’t gotten many photos of them. This year we’ve seen them on both ponds. When we were out looking for the gosling this weekend we were able to observe a pair of Muskrats feeding on reeds along the edge of one of the ponds. This year we’ve had more Muskrat observations than any time in the past. They have been so active that they have undermined the dikes around the pond. Earlier in the week I was busy looking for birds and almost stepped in a hole that had opened up in the dike. A couple of days later I was standing in another spot and the ground gave way to reveal about a two foot deep hole where the Muskrats had dug into the dike.

Beaver Sign

In the last couple of weeks we have been seeing trees that have been cut down along the edges of both ponds. We assumed it was Beavers but have never seen a Beaver at Hoffman Hills. That all changed this past weekend. As we were walking along the second pond we heard a large splash as something entered the water at the edge of the pond. We immediately thought it was a Beaver but didn’t see it. About five minutes later we saw it out in the pond swimming around. It was huge. I would estimate it was three feet long. A little while later we saw a second beaver in some reeds along the pond. I have been out looking for the Beaver several times since and have not seen them or have I seen any fresh signs that they have cut down any more trees or eaten the ones that were already cut. It appears that they may have moved on.

As is typically the case I have the best opportunity to observe wildlife when I leave my camera at home. This past weekend was one of those days. My goal for the next couple of weeks is to get some photographs of the Muskrats and Beavers if the Beavers are still in the area.