Cold autumn photo shoot at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area

Pam and I normally try to get in a late fall visit to the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area during the peak of the Sandhill Crane staging there. This year however we had to wait for other issues to settle down before we could make the trip. The trip finally materialized on November 8, 2017 and we headed north from Winona early that morning not knowing what to expect at Crex. The weather was cooperating so all we needed then was for some wildlife to be around when we arrived.
The sun was shining brightly as we headed north along Highway 61 out of Winona and our hopes were raised for a good photo shoot when we found hundreds of Tundra Swans resting in the Weaver bottoms.


After a quick photo of the Swans, we resumed our trip north and started thinking about our lunch meeting with friends Denny and Marjorie Doering at the Turtle Lake casino. The Wednesday all you can eat Wing Ding special was awaiting for our arrival.

What is a Wing Ding Special you ask? It is all you can eat batter fried chicken wings that are crisp on the outside juicy on the inside and very tasty. I prefer the garlic parmesan dip but do not recommend it for date nights.

This is how the meal starts.

We had a really nice conversation while enjoying the wings and did a lot of catching up with Marjorie and Denny. It was then time to hit the road and get to Crex Meadows before it got dark.

We made it to Siren, Wisconsin and got checked into the motel with time to spare and headed over to the wildlife area later that afternoon.

A Black Hawk hunting in the wildlife area.

Beside sighting a couple of hawks that afternoon there was not much going on in the wildlife area. A few Sandhill Cranes flew in around sunset and there were a few Geese flying about. At least we knew there were still some Cranes around that had not migrated out of the area.

Early the next morning we headed back to the Wildlife Area. There was a nice sunrise and we were lucky enough to watch a group of Otters frolicking and feeding on the ice as the sun came up.

Sunrise at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area.

These Otters played on the ice early in the morning and were very
We were a little surprised at the number of Cranes that were flying around
at sunrise.

Sandhill Cranes taking off from the ice.

A few more Cranes heading out to feed in the nearby fields.

There was a little fresh snow that morning. A view of the North Refuge
camping area.

We managed to locate some of the feeding Cranes in fields
near the Wildlife Area.

We spent a couple of hours cruising around the Wildlife Area before heading into Grantsburg for a nice breakfast. We spent the rest of the day checking out local antique dealers in the area and taking it easy. I was happy at what we had found to photograph so late in the season.

My wonderful wife, driver and bird spotter helping me find photo subjects.

We headed home early the next morning. We came across this frac sand processing and shipping facility just east of Turtle Lake. It looked like a clean operation but I am not sure what to think about it.
Frac sand plant
A deteriorating farm house.
I have seen this old house on previous trips and finally remembered to photograph it. Now to put it into a nice photo composition for a digital art project.
I hope you enjoyed our latest trip blog post. I also wanted to remind you that I have a few Crex Meadows books on hand if you need a unique gift for the nature lover on your Christmas list. They are also available at Blurb books. See the link on the left.


  1. Another wonderful, and enjoyable blog post! Your narrative is a great accompaniment to your photos. And, by the way, the picture of the wing-ding meal is making me drool.


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