Sandhill Cranes, Crex Meadows and more....

It was a busy fall season at Muddy River Photography this year with photo projects, sales and crazy weather. There were some bright spots however as we enjoyed a visit to watch the Sandhill Cranes stage in the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area and the always fun Handmade Neighborhood Sale.
There will be a few extra images posted today as I will be combining some of my project work with a bunch of images of our visit to Crex Meadows.
As with most photographers and creative people, I love to experiment with new ideas, new subject matter and explore new ways of seeing common scenes and objects. Keeping that in mind, you will notice some attempts on my part to alter the reality of some images with post processing that I hope will direct your attention to the important areas of the photograph.
Click on any image to enlarge it.

The first set of mages were created this fall in and around Winona.

Bloedow's doughnuts

An Eastern Bluebird at the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge.

On one sunny autumn day, I took my telephoto lens up to the Garvin Heights Lookout to get a different perspective on some Winona sights.

The Highway 43 Interstate Bridge Project in progress.

A different view of the Lake Park Bandshell.

A Black-capped Chickadee in the tree by my deck on a rainy day.

On an early morning excursion to Lake Park, I found this brave little mushroom
that had a view of Sugarloaf and Unity Park.

A sunrise view from my deck that greeted me on a colorful fall morning.

Pam and I finally found the opportunity to head up to the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area a little later than usual. We were anxious to return to the area to view the annual staging of the Sandhill Cranes. I was a little worried that we may be too late and would miss this extraordinary event. Fortunately our late departure brought us to the wildlife area at the peak of the staging this year. The staff at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area Visitor Center reported that a record number of Cranes were counted in a census at that time. They counted approximately 21,000 Sandhill Cranes in the area which was about double of what they had ever counted.
On our way to Grantsburg, Wisconsin, where the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area is located, we were fortunate to meet up with our friends Marjorie and Denny Doering for lunch at the Turtle Lake Casino. We enjoyed a lunch of some really great chicken wings and conversation. For mystery novel readers, Marjorie has started on her third mystery novel.
We arrived at our motel in mid-afternoon and I headed out to the refuge area immediately, as the sun would be setting quite early that day. It was also cloudy with a light rain falling. I got set up in the car because of the rain and only had to wait a short time before the Cranes started to flood into the refuge. Then the rain changed to snow and gave me my first opportunity to photograph the cranes in a snowstorm.

A pair of Sandhill Cranes landing in the refuge.

The snow did not seem to bother the Cranes.

Snowy Sandhill Crane.

The next morning we got back to the refuge at sunrise in time to hear the Cranes greet the morning with their gregarious, noisy, shrill and very loud calls that were blended in with the sounds of honking geese and quacking ducks. Pam made some interesting audio recordings but I have not figured out how to add them to the blog yet.

Cranes getting ready to fly to neighboring fields to feed.

Early morning primping.

Early morning flight out of the refuge.

Early morning conversation.
Picnic area on the north side of the refuge later that morning.

An abstract Aspen image created by intentional camera panning.

This curious young Whitetail deer really made our day. The more I
clicked the camera, the closer he approached until an approaching
 car startled him and he ran into the tall grass.

Just prior to sunset we returned to the refuge and found it oddly quiet. It did not take long however before the waves of approaching Cranes broke the silence and filled the air with their unmistakable noise and calls.

Flock after flock of Sandhill Cranes flew into the refuge

There was an occasional break in the clouds near sunset that bathed the
returning birds in a wonderful warm light.

Landing at sunset.

Thanks for viewing my blog. I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to share or comment on the blog.


  1. I love the diversity, Al. You work magic with your camera!


  2. Awesome post!!! You definitely had me with the donuts!!!!! LOL! (sorry) Your camera work is so amazing!!!!!

    1. Thanks Doreen, the donuts were tough to photograph without eating them.


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