Winter Road Trip

Now that the holidays are behind us, the winter is starting to get a little old. I know we have a long ways to go so Pam and I took a trip up north to help break up the monotony of the winter. We had no idea what to expect when we got to the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area but I guess that was part of the fun. My anxiety of leaving my safe and warm home in the middle of winter to go north was eased when we found good driving conditions and calm, but cold, weather conditions.

We arrived in Siren, Wisconsin last Thursday afternoon and checked into our motel. It seemed rather quiet around the city as I had expected to see snowmobiles whizzing around and other winter tourists enjoying the area. The friendly motel receptionist told us that there just was not enough snow yet and as a consequence all the snowmobile trails were closed. Bad economic news for the area. On the bright side, we didn't have to wait in line anywhere or fight traffic.

As I had feared, there was not much wildlife about to photograph. A real switch from the overly abundant wildlife sightings we had during the warmer months. In spite of that shortcoming we had a great time. We were warmly greeted at the Crex Meadows Visitor's Center by a smiling and friendly Heidi. After a short chat with Heidi we took a hike on a nature trail behind the visitor's center. It was only about 8 degrees at the time and the mild wind that was present was blocked by the wooded areas we were walking through. The air was chilled but pure and the silence and solitude were golden.

We spent a number of hours after the walk and on Friday driving around the wildlife area revisiting all of our favorite places. There were several hawks floating around the sky but never really close enough to photograph. A small flock of Blue Jays darted past us on one occasion and once in awhile other small unidentified birds could be seen in the distance.

Our real treat of the trip was running into a small flock of Black-capped Chickadees alongside of the East Refuge Road feeding on what appeared to be some type of Thistle.
They didn't pay any attention to us as they foraged the plants for food. They were amazing to watch as they performed their acrobatic feeding maneuvers.

There was plenty of time for reflection and just enjoying the area. While eating at a local restaurant our discussion shifted to how much fun this trip was even though the weather was just about the same as it was in Winona. Somehow it seemed more exciting to be in someone else's neighborhood.

On our return to Winona on Saturday morning, we stopped at Coville Park in Red Wing to observe all of the eagles perching in the trees. There were also also a bunch of spectators and photographers present enjoying the view.

On the south side of Lake City we spotted some activity on Lake Pepin. We pulled in to see what was going on and found a bunch of ice boats being assembled on the Lake while others were scooting about on the ice. It was amazing how fast they could travel with just a light breeze. I did some quick research while writing this blog post and found out that this was the 2013 Gold Cup World DN Championship. The championship consists of ice boat races with entrants from a number of different countries over a course laid out on Lake Pepin.

Here are some of the photographs from our trip. Please click on the images to enlarge them.

You can also follow me on my Muddy River Photography Facebook page. I always appreciate a "Like" on the page.

Muddy River Photography Facebook Page
I am thinking some of the Chickadee shots may make for nice greeting cards and prints.

A couple of Ring-necked Pheasants were feeding
 in a field near Crex Meadows.

This Chickadee seemed more colorful than normal
with the snowy background.
Hanging by a thread.

Getting a mouthful.

A different view.

A messy eater.

This once active and vibrant Eagle nest is vacant for the winter.

My trusty car did a great job on the trip. Taken at the camping area
on the north end of the refuge.

Ice boats being assembled on Lake Pepin in preparation for competition.

Ice boats being assembled on Lake Pepin in preparation for competition.


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