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Tag Archives: trumpeter swans

At last weeks visit to Crex Meadows we encountered quite a few White-tailed Deer. This faun was right along the road and we didn’t see any adult around. Many of the deer were standing in ponds eating. There quite a few insects around so maybe they were trying to fend them off. The last photo caught one in an embarrassing moment.

 

 

There were quite a few Trumpeter Swans around including a pair with Cignets.

We saw a few Sandhill Cranes but no young.

There were quite a few Painted Turtles around and we encountered one Blanding’s Turtle crossing the road.

There was a large family of Mergansers in Phantom Lake.

We encountered a number of Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies enjoying the flowers.

An adult Bald Eagle was sitting by the nest on Phantom Lake Road.

During my last visit to Crex Meadows I was able to photograph a wide range of wildlife.

Red Squirrel

Blanding Turtle

Trumpeter Swans

Tree Swallow

Sandhill Crane

Ring-necked Pheasant

Muskrats

Bull Snake

Blue-winged Teal

We made a late season trip through Crex Meadows the last week of summer. Things were relatively quiet. We did see a number of hawks and eagles, there were quite a few ducks around. Most of the flowers were gone as well as the butterflies.
There were a lot of Wood Ducks around, far more than I’ve seen before. It was a little difficult to photograph birds because the ducks were very skittish and the grass was so high along the road it was difficult to use the car as a blind.

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The Trumpeter Swans are around. This year’s batch of young are almost adults now.

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Grebes can be found on the various flowages.

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Smartweed is blooming.

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There was some color in the trees but it looks like most of the Aspen and Birch trees are turning brown. We noticed this same phenomenon as we drove through Northern Wisconsin.

We were driving along one of the dike roads and as we came around a corner I noticed a large animal in the road. It looked like a seal. It turned around and went back into the water. I jumped out and walked over to the edge of the pond and waited. Sure enough it wasn’t long before it poked its head out of the water. Turned out to be a North American River Otter.

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A little while later we were driving along and I noticed a Black Bear poking it head out of the woods. I yelled for my wife to stop and I nearly went into the windshield. I tried to get a photo but the bear moved back into the woods. We slowly drove up to where it came out and we could see it back in the woods. Unfortunately the cover was thick but we could see it was a sow and two cubs. The cubs went up the tree.

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There were a number of Trumpeter Swans with their signets at various locations along the road. This batch was close enough to get some shots.

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At one stop we encountered a couple of birds. The hawk was flying overhead and about the same time a Great Blue Heron flew by.

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I had been wanting to make a trip to Crex Meadows but was down with a bug so we hadn’t been able to make the trip. Also the weather had not been cooperating. We finally found a beautiful warm day so we decided to drive up the Crex for the day. I wasn’t expecting to see much but we were pleasantly surprised.

We counted over twenty Trumpeter Swans as we drove around the dike roads. I was able to get a few action shots because the swans were moving around.

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We also saw quite a few Canada Geese. This pair was right along the road and didn’t want to be disturbed.

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We  saw a large number of Sandhill Cranes in fairly large groups. They were attracting a crowd in the area just west of Phantom Lake.

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We also ran into a Ruffled Grouse walking across the road. I was able to exit the car and get some shots before it moved off into the woods.

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In the same area as the Ruffled Grouse I managed to get some nice reflections shots in a birch grove.

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I took this shot of the marsh grass in an area that I have a history. I love the beautiful grass in this area. Several years ago I stopped to take a photo and was so excited that when I walked off of the road into the grass I didn’t realize that the marsh was filled with water. Fortunately when I hit the water I was able to keep my camera dry although it took quite a while for me to dry out.

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After our visit to the Nelson’s Ice Sculptures we drove over to Hudson, Wisconsin to check on the Trumpeter Swans. There were quite a few of them around on a very cold day. Unfortunately what had been a beautiful day had turned overcast so I wasn’t able to photograph the birds at sunset.

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When I first arrived there were some swans that didn’t seem to be getting along. The ducks were unconcerned.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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The Trumpeter Swans seemed to have paired up already and are staking out their nesting sites. We saw over two dozen swans which was a large number for this early in the season.

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Apostle Islands Ice Caves:

Normally I’m complaining about the lack of a good winter but this year we have had a fantastic winter. Every winter I look forward to photographing the Apostle Island Ice Caves but this is the first year since 2009 that they have been accessible from the ice on Lake Superior. I was very surprised when I checked  the middle of January and found that the ice caves were already open. Normally they don’t open until January but with the cold weather they were early this year.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1471a

We immediately drove up to Cornucopia to visit the caves. This was followed by two other visits to the caves. We weren’t the only ones visiting the caves. Thanks to social media more than 140 thousand people visited the caves before they closed in mid March.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1672

In-spite of the large number of people visiting the caves I was able to get some great photos and, for the first time, my wife was able to visit the caves. As you can see by the number of blogs I wrote on the subject this was my favorite winter activity.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-3-_0983

Bald Eagle Watching:

The cold weather has been a boon for Bald Eagle watching since it concentrated the eagles in areas where there was open water. This winter we spent time visiting three locations along the Mississippi River to watch Eagles. Our most productive location was Covill Park in Red Wing, Minnesota where we always saw eagles. There were also a large number of ducks that provided entertainment when the eagle watching slowed down. The water is always open below the heating plant above Covill Park so the eagles and ducks hang out in this area.Bald-Eagle-14-1-_1996

The second best location was Reads Landing in Minnesota. On three occasions we saw large numbers of Eagles at this location. We also saw Trumpeter Swans that were hanging out in this section of the river. Viewing at this location slowed down as the winter progressed.Bald-Eagle-14-1-_0599

Alma, Wisconsin was the least productive area we visited. We only saw a significant number of eagles on one visit. On several other visits we didn’t see any eagles or only saw a few. I found this a difficult area to photograph eagles because you are usually looking into the sun.Bald-Eagle-14-1-_2164

I wrote a number of blogs describing our visits to these locations.

Trumpeter Swans Watching:

We made a number of trips to Hudson, Wisconsin to watch the Trumpeter Swans. Several people had mentioned that Trumpeter Swans hung out on the St. Croix river but didn’t know the exact location. We eventually found them in downtown Hudson.Trumpeter-Swan-Hudson-Wisconsin-14-2-_1125

Because of the very cold weather they were hanging out it a very small area of open water close to shore during the coldest part of the winter. You could walk down along the shore and photograph them and they didn’t seem to be the least concerned with your presence.Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-14-2-_1176

These trips resulted in several blogs reporting on our visits.Trumpeter-Swans-14-2-_0592

Lake Superior Ship Watching:

The very cold weather resulted in a lot of ice on Lake Superior. The early ice made for some great opportunities to photograph ships in the cold weather. One of my favorite year around activities is ship watching in Duluth and Superior Harbors so being able to photograph them working in ice was a great adventure.

Baie Cormeau

Baie Cormeau

We were able to watch ships arrive in the harbor during the very cold winter.

Baie Comeau

Baie Comeau

The Coast Guard Cutters were very active this winter and I was able to see them in action as they were breaking the ice and anchored in the harbor.

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Tug Boats were also required to help break the ice when the Coast Guard was not available.

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Helen H

A large number of ships are in the Duluth/Superior docks either being repaired or for winter layup.

American Spirit

American Spirit

The long winter will continue into spring as the ice breakers are working to free the harbor of ice and the ships in layup are waiting to head out for the 2014 shipping season. The season should start in the next couple of weeks.

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

 

Rush River Ice Formations:

I discovered the Rush River Ice Formations this winter. What a wonderful place to visit. A local land owner has run piping around his property tapping into underground springs. At about two dozen locations on the property he has run vertical pipes with holes drilled into them. The result are some spectacular ice formations.Nelson's-On-the-Rush-River-14-1-_1918

Long Ski Season:

For the second year in a row we have been blessed with a lot of snow. The difference this year is that the ski season started at Thanksgiving and has continued into March. With a little luck we should be able squeeze in at least one more ski trip this year.Boulder-Lake-Ski-Trails-14-2-_1375

Our favorite location this year was the ABR Ski Trails because they usually receive early snow and they do the best job of grooming of any ski location. They are usually able to have good skiing even after warm weather because they have equipment to break up the trail in icy conditions and lay a new track.ABR-Ski-Trails-13-2-_1183

We also skied at The After Hours Ski Trails in Brule a number of times this year. This is a great location because of the large number of trails and its close proximity to Duluth.After-Hours-Ski-Trails-13-3-_3674

We discovered the Boulder Lake Ski Trails near Duluth and made sever visits to these trails. There are enough trails to provide a nice day of skiing without skiing the same trail twice.Boulder-Lake-Ski-Trails-14-2-_1378

We only made one visit, to what we consider, the most beautiful ski trails in the Midwest. These are the Swedetown Ski Trails in Calument, Michigan. They get more snow and beautiful light fluffy snow than anyplace else.Swedetown-Ski-Trails-13-2-_1124