Autumn at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area 2013

YUP! I am finally getting this blog post ready and published. One of the benefits of processing images from a photo shoot is re-experiencing the excitement at the time I took the photos. The downside is that it slows the process down. Nevertheless, it is well worth it to me. 

Pam and I headed up to the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area on Wednesday October 16,2013. On our way to siren, where we stayed, we made a stop at the Turtle Lake Casino and had lunch with mystery author Marjorie Swift Doering and her husband Dennis. They have a nice buffet at the casino and we get a chance to sit around and gab without being rushed. Marjorie recently released her newest novel Shadow Tag and presented us with an autographed copy. NICE! We had a nice chat and Marjorie ran a few scenarios from her next book past me for my opinion as a former investigator.

We then headed into the casino after lunch, actually made a few dollars, and then headed up to Siren to check into our motel. The bad weather we experienced on the way up from Winona was now breaking up and it looked like we would be able to get some decent lighting for photographing later that afternoon and evening. The wildlife area is only 15 minutes west of Siren so we headed over that way full of anticipation after settling in at the motel and unpacking the photo gear.

The main reason for our trip to the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area this time of the year was to experience the fall staging of the Sandhill Cranes. Every fall thousands of Sandhill Cranes congregate at the wildlife area and wait for the marshes to freeze over before migrating to warmer areas. I knew we were to early for the peak Crane population but that there would still be plenty of Cranes around. The week after we left, I saw on the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area Facebook page that they had just counted a little over 12,000 Sandhill Cranes.

This fall gathering presents some really nice photo opportunities and a chance to observe the birds as they left the refuge to feed in neighboring farm fields in the early morning and returned from the fields in the evening at sunset.

The images that I posted in the blog are from this wonderful trip. Some of them are composites and others are as they were shot. I also included a couple that Pam took while we were being entertained by the Sandhill Cranes.

Wednesday evening turned out to be clear but a little cool. As if on cue, just before sunset hundreds of Cranes flooded into the refuge area that is contained within the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area. Just to make things a little more interesting, a large almost full moon rose over the eastern horizon to welcome the cranes.

Thursday morning was a little cloudy with rain in the forecast. We headed out to Crex  early and were surprised with a colorful sunrise before the clouds consumed the sky. We took a lot of shots that morning as we awaited the inevitable arrival of the rain. Fortunately the rain held off until the afternoon but the approaching rain brought the Cranes in from the fields earlier that usual. We were blessed with enough good weather to get some really nice shots and were thoroughly entertained by the wildlife we encountered. We have never been disappointed on any of our trips to Crex.

The following images are in no particular order and will have some descriptive captions attached. Please click on the images to enlarge them and enjoy more of the detail.

The fluffy little signets from this spring have grown into rather healthy
sized Trumpeter Swans.
This Trumpeter Swan was preening and fluffing up his freshly scrubbed
A pair of Lesser Yellowlegs were still in the area on Wednesday.
This smiling Grebe was just to cute to pass up.
One of Pam's photographs from Thursday morning.
Pam posing with my camera later Thursday morning on the Main Dike Road.
A flock of Sandhill Cranes.

A group of Sandhill Cranes early Thursday morning.
Frist light on Thursday morning from Co. Rd. M.
A pair of Sandhill Cranes take flight on Thursday morning.
A couple signets following an adult Trumpeter Swan in for a landing.
Another of Pam's images. It was so colorful Thursday morning.
A pair of Sandhill Cranes taking off  and framed by autumn colored leaves.
OK... remember that song "Walk this way" ?
Early morning warm up at the north end of the refuge.
Leaving the refuge.
Some Cranes were really hungry.
Who me?
Sandhill Cranes flying out of one of the burn areas where they
had been feeding.
Thursday afternoon the rain started, the Cranes returned
and I clicked the last of the photos from our trip.


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