Summer is fading

There has been a cool nip in the morning air recently which was a nice relief after the very hot summer days we have recently experienced. The bad news is that summer is starting to burn out. The bright fall colors will be appearing in a few weeks and another summer will fade into the distance along with the record setting hot temperatures.

Before summer ended this year I wanted to take another trip to Crex Meadows to see what was around the wildlife area. I had been there in the spring and the fall but never late summer. 

I drove up to Crex last Thursday morning and found the weather to be  overcast and very windy. That would prove to be a little challenging for getting some nice shots. After arriving at Crex Meadows, I headed over to the Visitor/Education Center and chatted with Heidi and Kim at the front desk. I also picked up some gift certificates that were waiting for me for placing in several categories in the Crex Meadows 2012 Photography Contest. I had submitted entries into to 5 of the categories and won 2 first places and 2 third places. 

Recently I published a photo book called "Crex Meadows Wildlife Area" that contains 35 of my favorite photographs taken at Crex Meadows. The link to a preview of the book is located at the top of the column to the right of this blog. I had a ebook copy of Crex Meadows Wildlife Area on my Ipad and was able to show Kim and Heidi the book. I will be donating a softcover copy of the book to Friends of Crex to use as they see fit. Friends of Crex does a lot of wonderful work at Crex Meadows to make visiting the wildlife area a great experience for photographers, bird watchers, naturists and and anyone else that wants to experience this restored wetland area. You can join Friends of Crex by using this link.

Please enjoy the images. Remember to click on them to enlarge them. These images are not always posted on my other sites so please contact me if you are interested in acquiring any of them.
After being briefed by Heidi and Kim on the areas most active recently at Crex, I headed out for some photography.

I was a little disappointed after driving around and finding little to photograph in the first 1/2 hour or so. I was heartened however by a lot of wild flowers blooming about the wildlife area and thought they would be great subjects if I struck out on wildlife. The image below is one of the many varieties of Sunflower looking blooms. One could spend a lot of time  photographing wildflowers if that is your area of interest.


The first bird I caught unaware on Thursday was this wind blown Blue Heron who was having a bad hair day.

Blue Heron

This Trumpeter Swan looked graceful even on the windy day.

Trumpeter Swan

One of my early stops on Thursday was the Bald Eagle's nest on Hildas Road where I had previously photographed the adult eagles and the young eagle that was in the nest. When I arrived in the area of the nest there was an adult Bald Eagle perched near the nest but the youngster had flown the coop and was nowhere to be seen. I am sure he was happy to finally get out of that nest. Not far from the nest some activity in a roadside ditch caught me eye and I was pleasantly surprised to find a Green Heron perched on an old stick.

Green Heron

In the area of Dike #1 I found a number of Great Egrets feeding and wading in the shallow waters of the marsh. John, a Friend of Crex member I had met on and earlier visit, stopped and told me about a Peregrine Falcon he had been watching in the area and also pointed out some of the other small wading birds that were present.

The Great Egrets were grouping up on a small island and looked as if they were freezing in the middle of a blizzard. Somehow they are able to twist their long necks in a snake like fashion to huddle up against the wind. It was windy but not as cold as they made it look.

Great Egrets
Possibly Lesser Yellowlegs

I headed out into the wildlife area very early on Friday morning and found the weather very calm and bright. There was low ground fog in some of the areas that was surreal to observe.

I returned to the area of Dike #1 and found the Great Egrets enjoying the morning sun as they hunted for breakfast.

Great Egret

I then headed north on the East Refuge Road to the northeast section of the refuge area. I was greeted by a flock of about 50 Sandhill Cranes that were milling about and feeding in a field near the road. Then, as if practicing the wave for the upcoming football season, a Crane leaped into the air and dropped down. He was followed by a number of other Cranes who likewise jumped briefly into the air and let out some Crane calls. Calm would then follow for about a minute before another Crane would leap up and start the process all over again. There were so many leaping Cranes it was difficult to find one to focus on.

Leaping Sandhill Crane

As I followed the North Refuge Road to the west, I looked back towards the rising sun and found this group of Sandhill Cranes in the tall wet grass that sparkled from the sun.

Sandhill Cranes

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