Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Trumpeter Swan

It was a beautiful day to ski on the Red Cedar State Trail. We had 8 inches of new fluffy snow overnight and the sky was a bright blue. The tables at the visitors center were covered in snow.as was the bridge over the Gilbert Creek.

With the cold weather the ice was building up and was also covered in snow.

It was late in the afternoon and we met quite a few skiers on the trail. There were also some nice reflections on the Red Cedar River.

On the way back we heard some familiar sounds and saw a small flock of Trumpeter Swans land on the river.

 

This past week we drove through Crex Meadows on the way to Duluth, Minnesota. We saw quite a bit of wildlife and the DNR staging for a controlled burn. Unfortunately the burn didn’t happen. More photos from Crex Meadows can be found on my website.

 

Northern Harrier

Yellowlegs

Blue-winged Teal

Ring-necked Duck

Canada Geese

Pied-billed Grebes

Sandhill Cranes

Trumpeter Swan

 

Last weekend we drove through Crex Meadows. We were hoping to see Sandhill Cranes but we didn’t see a single crane. The flowages were frozen so most of the waterfall were gone. We did see quite a few birds of prey in the meadows.  Bald Eagles were perched near Phantom Lake and we saw more out in the flowages.

We also saw quite a few Rough-legged Hawks hunting. These are some of the best pictures I’ve gotten of Rough-legged Hawks.

As we drove past one of the lakes we noticed bear tracks going out on to the lake. I measured them and they were 4 X 6 inches.

We found one lone Trumpeter Swan hanging out on a small area of open water by one of the flowage dams.

As we drove toward home we did notice Sandhill Cranes in some of the fields. There was snow on the ground and it looked like most of the crops had not been harvested from the fields so there could have been many more cranes in the fields.

We were in Hudson, Wisconsin on business and decided to stop and check on the Trumpeter Swan population. It was late in the day. When we left home is was cloudy but by the time we reached Hudson the sun was out and it was a beautiful, relatively warm late afternoon.

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-15-1-_2857

When we arrived we were the only ones there. Before long a crowd had gathered. Apparently the swans fly off late in the afternoon and folks wanted to watch the evening flight out. Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-15-1-_2891

There were also several people feeding the swans. Everyone was lined up to get some food.

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-15-1-_3002

I started talking with another photographer who was working with a long lens and tripod. Turned out to be Art Juchno who I had worked with at Stout. I didn’t recognize him all bundled up in his winter gear but he recognized me. I’m not sure what that says about my sartorial efforts.

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-15-1-_2947

I spent about an hour watching the birds. There were a lot of ducks and geese but only about fifty swans. Last time I was photographing there were over three hundred. Apparently colder weather brings them into the area.

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-15-1-_2932

More Trumpeter Swan photos can be found on my website.

I made a second visit to watch the Trumpeter Swans along the Saint Croix River in Hudson, Wisconsin. On the first visit the weather was relatively warm and the swans and other birds were really active. There were so many of them it the water that it was difficult to get photos of single birds.Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-15-1-_0648

On this visit it was well below zero and I was the only one dumb enough to stand out along the river to photograph birds. My wife stayed in the car and said a number of cars came by and people either watched from their car or jumped out to take a quick photo.

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-15-1-_0790

Because it was so cold the birds were not very active. The smaller number of birds in the water made it much easier to photograph individual birds or smaller groups of birds. Most of the swans, geese and ducks were on shore trying to keep warm. In all I counted in excess of 250 Trumpeter Swans in an area about half the size of a football field.

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-15-1-_0651

There were also a number of ducks around. This one just came in from the water.Mallard-Duck-15-1-_0653

Right behind the duck this Trumpeter Swan walked onto the ice to take a nap.

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-15-1-_0686

It looks like these two Trumpeter Swans are harassing the duck but they were just interacting and the duck seemed undisturbed.

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-15-1-_0690

After swimming around for about an hour this swan returned to the ice to take a nap in the cold weather.

Trumpeter-Swan-Hudson-Wisconsin-15-1-_0748

While I was in Hudson, Wisconsin I drove down to the river to see if there were any swans around. Much to my surprise the small area of open water was filled with swans.

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-14-12-_1364a

It was fun watching them. This swan kept dunking itself in the water as it swam along. It finally reared up and spread its wings.

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-14-12-_1457

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-14-12-_1467

This group of swans was it a circle and seemed to be talking to one another when all heck broke loose. The all started trumpeting and flapping their wings. I’ve seen this before but don’t know what is going on.

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-14-12-_1602

More Trumpeter Swan photos can be found on my website.

As winter arrived I started thinking of places and events that I wanted to photograph this winter. The events and bird photography require a little more planning than the Landscape Photography locations.

Apostle Islands Ice Caves

Without a doubt the top of my list is the Apostle Islands Ice caves. I discovered them in 2007 and have photographed them every year they have been open. When I first started photographing them I was frequently the only person on the ice that day. What a difference social media makes. This past winter well over a hundred thousand people visited the caves in-spite of the bitterly cold winter. Given the temperatures we have been seeing so far this winter I would expect the ice caves will open again in February. If you haven’t been you should make the trip.

Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-3-_0871

Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1471a

The Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race

The Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race will be taking place on February 7th and 8th. This is really a fun family event and one of the better sled dog races from a viewers point of view. It is possible to get up close to the dogs at the start of the races. Since it is an out and back race you can also stick around and watch the mushers return. They also have different levels of races from professionals to kids.

Off and Racing

Off and Racing

Apostle-Islands-Sled-Dog-Race-14-2-_0328

If you are really lucky, like we were last year, the Apostle Island Ice Caves will be open that weekend. You also may also be able to drive out to Madeline Island on the ice road while you are in the area.

Bond Falls

Although Bond falls is best known as a fall destination for photographers it provides some exceptional photography in the winter. There are not many waterfalls that are all that interesting to photograph in the winter. Bond Falls in the U.P. of Michigan is an exception. Most waterfalls in the Upper-Midwest are frozen in the winter. If there has been fresh snow they look like all of the other scenery. Bond falls is just below a dam it has water flowing all winter regardless of how cold it is. The flowing water combined with some interesting ice formations makes this one of my favorite winter photography locations.

Bond Falls

Bond Falls

Ice Bond Falls

Ice Bond Falls

Mississippi River

During the winter we make a number of trips over to the Mississippi River looking for eagles. Our first stop is usually Alma, Wisconsin where eagles hang out around the lock and dam. The National Eagle Center provides a weekly report of eagles seen along this section of the Mississippi River. They also provide eagle watching tours.

Bald-Eagle-14-1-_0637
We then drive north to Reads Landing, Minnesota. We commonly see 30+ eagles in front of the Reads Landing Brewing Company. You can stop in the Brewery and watch the eagles in comfort while having lunch.

Bald-Eagles-14-1-_2081
Our last stop is usually  in Colvill Park  Redwing, Minnesota where the eagles hang out near the open water below the power plant. The catch to watching eagles in the winter is the best time to find them gathered in large numbers is when there is a bitterly cold stretch of weather. This causes the Mississippi to freeze up and reduces access to open water.

Bald-Eagle-14-1-_1996

Canadian Hill Farm

I can usually find something to photograph on the farm during the winter but most of my time is spent photographing birds during snow storms. There is nothing like hunkering down in the house with a roaring fire in the fireplace while sitting in my rocking chair and photographing birds.

Northern Cardinal male

Northern Cardinal male

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Hudson, Wisconsin

Hudson is a great place to watch Trumpeter Swans during the winter. With the successful reintroduction of Trumpeter Swans into the Midwest watching and photographing them has become a year around event. Trumpeter Swans don’t migrate in the winter they just move to the nearest open water. There is a small patch of open water in Hudson where they congregate in large numbers during the winter months. It is easy to get up close and photograph them.

Trumpeter-Swans-14-2-_1179

Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-14-12-_1545

Hudson is also where the Hudson Hot Air Affair is held every February. This is one of the few hot air balloon rallies in the area. It is well worth the trip to watch the inflation and flight of the balloons.

Hudson Hot Air Affair 14-2-_0710

 

Hudson-Hot-Air-Affair-14-2-_0851

Amnicon Falls

Amnicon Falls State Park is a favorite stopping point during the winter. Although in very cold weather the Amnicon River usually freezes there are times when I can find open water. The tannin tainted water car result in some colorful photos.

Amnicon Falls

Amnicon Falls

Horton Covered Bridge

Horton Covered Bridge

Red Cedar State Trail

In the winter most of the Red Cedar State Trail is a cross country ski trail so in order to photograph it you have to be willing to cross country ski. There are some beautiful ice walls along the trail at the 1.5 mile mark. These are the result of water seepage through limestone rock.

Red-Cedar-State-Trail-13-3-_0858

On cold days the trees along the trail can be covered in heavy frost.

Frost

Frost

The southern portion of the trail is a walking trail in the winter and on a sunny day I like to photograph the Dunnville Stone in the late afternoon light.

Dunnville Sandstone

Dunnville Sandstone

Grand Marais, Minnesota

I like to make the trip to Grand Marais at least once every winter. I’m never quite sure what I’ll find. On one trip there were high waves washing over the breakwater and lighthouses.

West Breakwater Light

West Breakwater Light

At other times I love to take intimate shots of the ice formations that are formed when the water washes over the breakwater and then freezes into beautiful patterns.

Ice-Patterns-Grand-Marais-Harbor-12-2-_0329

Devil’s Punchbowl

I like to photograph at Devil’s Punchbowl near Menomonie, Wisconsin in the winter. Water seeping through limestone rocks creates a massive ice wall in the bowl. There are also opportunities to photograph objects frozen in the ice.

Devil's Punchbowl

Devil’s Punchbowl

Devils-Punchbowl-Leaf-13-12-_0577

 

Bald Eagle

The Gilbert Creek Wildlife Area is located about 7 miles west of Menomonie, Wisconsin and is my favorite local area for photographing spring birds since it is only about 10 minutes from my farm. The spring birds started arriving several weeks ago. Canada Geese and several types of ducks frequent the area although there doesn’t seem to be as many birds as in past years. I’ve seen three mature Bald Eagles in the area recently. This year, for the first time, there is a Trumpeter Swan frequenting the area. Several weeks ago the Sandhill Cranes returned and I noticed a pair is now nesting fairly close to the road.

More Gilbert Creek photos on my website.