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.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Crex Meadows Baby boom 2016

Pam and I took a couple of days early last week to check out the Crex Meadows Wildlife area at Grantsburg, Wisconsin. Every trip seems like a new adventure as nature is constantly evolving and always has something new for us to appreciate and photograph.

As usual, we stopped at the Turtle Lake Casino for lunch and a chance to stretch our legs. We enjoyed a great lunch and then ran into Marjorie and Dennis Doering and their family. As we were getting ready to leave Marjorie surprised me with a signed copy of her latest Novel "Web of Silence". Thank you Marjorie. Here is a link to her latest mystery novel on Amazon. Web of Silence 

After a short visit we were on the way again to Crex Meadows. To be honest, my photo business has been picking up lately and taking up more of my time. Therefore this will be a shorter blog posting than I would normally post.

Speaking of my business, I received a copy the 2016 Winona Chamber of Commerce Community Profile directory in the mail the other day. I was surprised to see that one of my Sugar Loaf Photographs was used for the front cover and also that several more of my images were used inside of the book. Here is a link to the site where you can view the directory and page through it. 2016 Community Profile Directory

The wildlife area was alive with chicks (wildlife), ducklings, cygnets, colts and other assorted youngsters and we had a great time enjoying, finding and watching them. It is so cool to see the youngsters playing and being oblivious to politics. It was actually rejuvenating and heartening to see that the world was actually OK and thriving.

I cherry picked through the images I took on our visit and have posted a few of them below. Please enjoy the images and remember that you can enlarge the images by clicking on them.

A flock of Pelicans floated across the refuge in this late afternoon shot.
There were a lot of duck families enjoying the day.
This Black Bear was squinting in the morning sunlight while trying
 to check us out.
Pam's sharp eyes caught this Bittern feeding along a shoreline.
A Sandhill Crane and one of two Colts in the family.
A Wood Duck reaching for air on takeoff.
This Pied-billed Grebe and 2 chicks were quite difficult to locate
 in the Lili pads. The adults appeared to be trying to camouflage
the chicks even more by stacking weeds around them.

It seems that there is always one in every group that has to be different.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Back to blogging 2016 - Crex Meadows

After a hiatus from bogging the past few months, I am finally catching up. The photography business has been good and I have learned a lot from a local networking group that I joined several months ago. The new friends I have met and the weekly inspiration I receive from our weekly meetings has evolved my business to include a broader client base. Thank you A.I.M.

Last week Pam and I headed to the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Wisconsin for some R & R and spring photography. It all started with a champagne and crab brunch with our friends Marjorie and Dennis Doering at the Turtle Lake Casino buffet. I will really have to remember to get some photos of the food on our next trip. Anyway, Marjorie's new mystery novel "Web of Silence" book 4 of the Ray Schiller series is now available at Amazon in a digital version. Link to "Web of Silence" on Amazon Enjoy the fine read!

The weather cooperated with us and was cool and sunny. It was wonderful to hear the sounds of the birds and enjoy the green hues that were emerging at the wildlife area after what always seems to be a long winter. There was a lot of nesting going on and also a few young hatchlings out and about the remote areas of the bog.

I have inserted below some of the images we captured on our trip. All of the song birds had not yet arrived but I still had a lot of subjects to focus on.

Please click on the images for a larger view of the photographs.

This Willet was the first bird photographed on our arrival. It was feeding at
the Phantom Lake shore.
A Red-necked Grebe on the nest.

A Red-necked Grebe away from the nest.
Ducklings enjoying a Lily Pad playground.
This Sandhill Crane did not seem to mind our presence and made no attempt
to fly away.
Pam's sharp eye caught a glimpse of this Sandhill Crane Colt in the deep grass
 which explains why the Crane above made no attempt to leave the area.
This handsome Ringed-neck duck is one of Pam's favorites.
I photographed this Loon on some choppy water.
A squirrel feeding on some fresh spring treats.
A Spotted Sandpiper.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sandhill Crane staging at Crex Meadows - Fall 2015

Pam and I headed to Crex Meadows wildlife Area this past Sunday, October 18, 2015.  Pam was able to get a few vacation days and we took the opportunity to head up to Crex. Fortunately the weather cooperated and we had clear and partly cloudy skies for the entire trip.

We arrived in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin at about lunch time and met up with our friends Marjorie and Dennis Doering at the Casino for some great chicken wings. To our surprise, the buffet at the casino on that day featured a crab and champagne brunch. After a little deliberation and discussion we decided to hit the buffet. After all it was less than $9.00 each. It was a wonderful brunch with some really tasty crab legs. We skipped the champagne but did manage to find some cheesecake for dessert. The stay at the casino got even better and after a little gambling we left with more cash than we arrived with. That is not a normal occurrence with us. After a nice visit we left the casino for Crex Meadows to check out the Sandhill Crane situation.

The wildlife area seemed a little busier with more traffic than we were used to. However, we are rarely there on weekends. We scoped out the area and arrived on the Main Dike Road at the south end of the refuge about an hour before sunset. Other cars were already present and more arrived as evening approached. Flock after flock of Cranes descended on the refuge for the night. The din from the crane calls, honking geese and quacking ducks penetrated the normal silence of the wildlife area.

I set up my tripod and camera on the dike and started clicking away. There were other photographers on the dike as well as observers and birders. Cars would slowly crawl down the gravel road with the occupants looking out and enjoying the sights and sounds of the refuge full of cranes. Other birders and viewers approached me occasionally for a look though my camera lens as I photographed the cranes and other wildlife. There was an air of excitement and awe as we all witnessed a wonder of nature. I noted that it is one thing to watch spectacular wildlife shows on television but quite another to be immersed in the middle of such a unique occurrence. There were cranes in front of us, behind us, to our left, to our right and flying over us. A word of warning when watching cranes float into the refuge over your head, no matter how amazed you feel, keep your mouth closed.

The cranes were still flying in when we left for the night as it was getting too dark to see them much less photograph them. We arrived back at the refuge just after sunrise on Monday morning and spent the day in the Wildlife area and also cruising the back roads south of Grantsburg, Wisconsin looking for the cranes feeding in the fields. We left for home early on Tuesday morning. Later on Tuesday I saw on Facebook that a Snowy Owl had been sighted near the refuge a matter of hours after we left. Since then I have noted a number of great Snowy Owl photos that were taken in the Wildlife area. I may have to make a quick solo run back there if the owl decides to hang around.

I have attached a selection of photographs from our trip in no particular order. Please click on the images to enlarge them.

There was still some great color in the area. Taken on Phantom Lake.
A large flock of Red-winged Blackbirds swirled around the refuge.

A flock of assorted ducks leaving the refuge.
Sandhill Cranes returning to the refuge.

A flock of Canada Geese flying out of the refuge.
Phantom Lake Road.
A Pied-billed Grebe feeding on a minnow.
Some of the Cranes were anxious to head out to feed early in the morning.
Trumpeter Swans were enjoying the nice weather.
Another Phantom Lake view.
Northern Harrier hunting south of Grantsburg.
The Cranes were quite bold feeding near this home.

Sandhill Crane family
A Bald Eagle did not mind being surrounded by cranes in the refuge.
Landing in the refuge.

Cranes dancing and doing their thing.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mid June at Crex Meadows 2015

Spring is a great time to visit Crex Meadows or any other wildlife area for that matter. The weather is usually mild, there are not many irritating bugs and insects about and a lot of birds are still in their bright mating colors. Such was the case when we visited Crex Meadows last week. I had high hopes of spotting some Pied-billed Grebe chicks and other young wildlife to photograph but you don't always get what you want when it comes to wildlife.

We started our spring adventure with a  lunch of chicken wings at the casino in Turtle Lake with Marjorie and Denny Doering. Marjorie is working on her newest and fourth novel and had a few technical questions which we quickly resolved. After our visit and a little gambling, we headed to Siren, Wisconsin to check into our hotel and then headed to the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area to see what we could find.

The friendly staff at the Visitor's Center filled us in on what was happening with the wildlife and where some of the birds have been recently spotted. It was overcast when we headed out to check some of our favorite spots but the forecast was for sunny and warm conditions the next day. Our mid-week visits give us the advantage of not being disturbed by a lot of visitors and hopefully the wildlife would be settled down and calmer.

Although we did not spot any Pied-billed Grebe chicks it was apparent they probably had not or had only recently hatched out. The was evidenced by spotting only one adult Grebe during our visit. We did not get a chance to stew about the lack of Grebe chicks however as many other sightings and photo opportunities presented themselves to us. I was also surprised when we ran into another wildlife photographer from the Lacrosse, Wisconsin area near the end of our trip and had a nice chat with him and his wife. It had been a couple of years since we had run into each other while out photographing wildlife in the Winona area.

I hope you enjoy the photographs that we captured.

A Spotted Sandpiper at the Upper North Fork Flowage in the draw down area.
A duck family. One of many in the area.
This majestic Bald Eagle surprised us when we made a turn
on one of the wildlife area roads.
We spotted a couple of feeding Loons but did not see any chicks.
This Blanding's Turtle was headed into a ditch but hesitated long enough for
me to get this close-up shot.
A pair of Sandhill Cranes and 2 colts in the north refuge area.
Dancing Sandhill Cranes will always bring a smile to your face. These two
were part of a small group in another part of the area.
A Yellow Warbler. One of my favorite song birds.
A Sharp-tailed Grouse taking in the warm morning sun.
A White-tail Deer striking a pose while feeding in the marsh.
A Scarlett Tanager showing off his catch.
A colorful Eastern Towhee.
Brown Thrasher.
A Green Heron waiting for his dinner to swim past.
A successful catch. This Heron ate three fish before flying off.
An Eastern Meadowlark with an early morning song.
A Green Heron feeding in the draw down area.
4 Wood ducks and a stick.