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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Adventures/Challenges at Crex Meadows

Our last trip to the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area ( CMWA ) a week ago proved to be a little more exciting than we had planned. Mother nature always makes sure we do not have a boring experience.

After leaving home early on Sunday morning June 11, 2017, we stopped in Menomonie to stretch our legs and get a cup of coffee. I had noticed that storms were headed towards the Twin Cities on my iphone weather radar that morning but figured we could get to our destination before they crossed our path. Well, that did not work.

As we headed north out of Menomonie we noticed green skies in the west mixed in with some really ugly clouds obviously headed our way. Of course my photographer instincts kicked in and I mentioned to Pam that it would be nice if we could reach some elevated spot of the highway to stop so I could photograph the passing storm with all the cool lightning. That great idea did not work out either.

By the time we found a nice spot to stop the storm was upon us in all of it's fury. Heavy winds, lightning, hail, rain and thunder. Alas my well planned photo shoot disappeared with the waning light and heavy rain. We kept heading north until the intensity of the hail, rain and wind brought the visibility down to zero. I hit the emergency flashers and eased to the right hoping to feel our way to the shoulder of the road. Now we were excited!!!! or at least a little tense not being able to see what the storm had planned for us. That was just crazy!

We started back up a short time later as the rain let up a little. Now we were driving quite slow as there was debris all over the highway and tree limbs to swerve around. We noticed later that there were trees down here and there all the way to Grantsburg and the CMWA.

After settling in to our accommodations in Siren we headed out the CMWA  with only a light rain falling. We did get a few shots of some wildlife including the group of Sandhill Cranes dancing around in the rain.

 
Heading back to the hotel that evening we decided to order a healthy pizza from Fat Daddy's Pizza in Siren, Wi. It was a very good pizza with a lot of melted cheese trying to keep each slice of pizza from being separated from the pie. Just like pizza ads on TV!
 
We got ready to head out early the next morning but soon discovered we were surrounded by a very heavy fog. Oh well, that meant  there was enough time for another cup of coffee. :)  The fog lifted and presented us with a wonderful partly cloudy day and photo opportunities.
 


The wonderful morning fog left beautifully
decorated spider webs throughout the area.


 
I used some digital art effects on this cool web.

A Common Yellowthroat.
 
The Visitor & Education Center is a must stop for you to get the latest
wildlife information from friendly staff members.
This Northern Mockingbird was a scarce find for the area and the
first one I had seen or photographed.
I captured this image of a wild Turkey before
 he had a chance to dry out.
Many wildflowers were in bloom including
this Honeysuckle with a captured insect in
it's clutches.
Wild Iris plants with digital art effects added.
A Blanding's Turtle paused for a photograph while crossing a road.
 
I love these Yellow Warbles and never tire of photographing them.
Dragonflies were prevalent in the wetlands. 
An Eastern Kingbird showed off it's catch.
A Brown Thrasher paused just long enough for me to get this shot.
They do not like to stand still.
After the fog lifted, the open water areas reflected like mirrors.
 
This deer watched us and appeared confident that we did not
notice him.
 
"Who's the man"?  We always find time to watch and listen to the very
entertaining colony of Yellow-headed Blackbirds
Pam enjoyed these hand carved Cardinal's in a colorful garden next to
the highway on the way to Grantsburg.
 
Our trip ended Monday with a delightful dinner at Tesora's Restaurant in Siren.
 
Just across the street from our hotel.
 
It was a leisurely dinner with great food, wonderful service and a fitting end to a fun trip. We had to try one of their deserts to properly finish the dinner.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

2017 Spring photo trip to Crex Meadows

The first week in May of 2017, Pam and I headed north towards the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in northwest Wisconsin, for some photography, R & R and browsing some local antique shops. It was gloomy and cloudy with light rain falling when we arrived around noon at the Turtle Lake Casino for lunch.
 
We enjoyed a nice lunch with Denny and Marjorie Swift Doering and caught up on our winter news and experiences. Marjorie then surprised us with an autographed copy of her latest published mystery novel, "Remains". She also reported making great progress on her newest novel. Pam has been reading and following and enjoying this series of books since the initial book in the series came out and is anxious to read  Marjorie's next novel when it is published. Her books are available on Amazon.
 
We made it to the Crex Meadows Wildlife area late in the afternoon and were able to check things out in the light rain and windy conditions. We soon experienced the familiar calming effect that nature wraps around you when you enter the quiet and isolated wildlife area.
 
The next day was sunny, warmer and calmer. We perused several antique stores and got some early spring images of the area. The only wildlife babies we saw were very young goslings being guarded and guided by adult Canadian Geese. The Loons had returned and a pair of Red-necked Grebes were also present.
 
Here are some images from this trip.

Ring-necked Pheasant

Yellow-rumped Warbler  aka Butter Butt

White-tail Deer

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Sandhill Crane

Red-necked Grebes

Bald Eagle and nest

Bald Eagle

Tiny Wildflowers

Lone Tree - Digital Photo Art
 
 
 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sandhill Cranes staging at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area 2016

This has been a very comfortable yet unusual autumn season. The cold and snowy weather has failed to appear on time and I for one have really enjoyed it. Sandhill Crane staging at Crex Meadows seems to vary from year to year. That is a good thing for wildlife and nature photographers as nature is always changing and presenting new opportunities in all of it's seasons. I guess that is why we never get tired of being at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area.

Having said that, Pam and I headed up to the wildlife area last week to see if the Sandhill Cranes were still around. They were! The weather was nice and we were able to experience  and photograph some of the remarkable sights that were present. After a nice fried chicken wing lunch and conversation in Turtle Lake with our friends the Doerings, we had enough time to get a few shots in before the sun set.

The next day we got out for sunrise photos at the wildlife area and were later expertly and cordially updated on the happenings and best places to go in the wildlife area by Kim Wheeler at the visitor center. Those information sessions can save a lot of time when you are trying to locate the best areas for viewing and photographing nature.

I posted some representative images from our trip below and we hope that you enjoy them. Don't forget to click on the images to enlarge them.

Pam is now retired so we are able to get out more to explore Midwest nature. We are always open to suggestions for new wildlife areas to explore and photograph. Just send an email. Thanks.

Sunrise


The Cranes were everywhere.


The cranes were quite noisy as they returned to the wildlife area after a
day of feeding in the fields. Phantom Lake marsh.
 
 
A cool smoke trail from what appears to be a controlled burn at sunset.


Phantom Lake Road was quite congested Wednesday morning.
 
 
Fog lifting off of the water at Phantom Lake Wednesday morning.


A flock of Sandhill Cranes flying through the wildlife area.


Sharp-tailed Grouse enjoying the early morning sun.
 

The moon was not yet full Wednesday evening when I took this photo.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Late summer visit to Crex Meadows - 2016

As some of you may have noticed, my blog and web pages are sporting a new logo design. I have received a number of compliments on it and I really enjoy the look of it. The design was crafted by Jose Pelaez of Pelaez Creative here in Winona. Jose is a very talented graphic designer and I am honored to have a sample of his work on my pages.

The new logo includes "digital art" in the title along with photographer so I can now add some of my other digital works without being misleading. I will be adding more of this type of image to my blog in the future along with my wildlife images. I hope you enjoy.

Lanesboro, Minnesota Dam after recent heavy rainfalls. I created a painterly
version to increase the image interest.
 

Last Tuesday, September 20, 2016 Pam and I headed up north to check out the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in late summer. Now that Pam has retired, a midweek trip was no problem. We arrived in Turtle Lake by noon for a nice Wing Ding lunch at the casino with Marjorie and Dennis and took about and hour and a half to catch up on each others news. Apparently another novel is almost complete in Marjorie's detective series for all of her mystery fans.

Then it was off to Siren, Wisconsin to check into the Best Western Northwoods Lodge. This lodge is a great gateway to the wildlife area and we have stayed there a number of times when visiting Crex Meadows. We are not good campers and enjoy the amenities provided by the hotel such as a hot breakfast, fresh coffee 24/7 and friendly staff.

Tuesday evening and Wednesday were spent cruising around the wildlife area taking photos of the wildlife that was present and gracious enough to pose for me. One stroke of luck we had was when a Pied-billed Grebe caught a Bullhead that was a little large for him and watched as he tried numerous times to swallow the fish. He finally figured out, from past experience I am sure, that he had to break off the sharp barbs from the fish's fins in order to swallow him. The Grebe never noticed us as he went about his business and allowed us to be entertained by his ability to work around obstacles in order to swallow that Bullhead.

A preening Blue Heron

Belted Kingfisher

Preening Sandhill Crane

The Pied-billed Grebe just after he caught a Bullhead that appeared
too big to be swallowed.

It was very interesting to watch him as he maneuvered the fish around
so he could grab the spiny barbs and then shake the fish to break them off.

After quite an ordeal, he finally got him lined up just right.

We were so happy for him when he finally got to swallow the fish.

Pam spotted this Sharp-tailed Grouse on the road early Wednesday morning.

She also spotted these two young Grouse hiding in the grass as the adult
tried to lure us away.


A small flock of Young Trumpeter Swans with digital effects applied.