Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Sunset

I went out to see if I could find anything to photograph just before sunset yesterday.  This is what I found.

The light at sunset on a recently frozen Lake Kegonsa. It was 12 degrees, but I'm glad I didn't miss this.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Tundra Swans

I was staying with family near Lake Superior over Thanksgiving and my visit happened to coincide with the arrival of tundra swans during their fall migration south.

It was overcast most of the time I was there, but the sun did come out for a couple of hours on two different days. Once we had some good light, my son Zach and I went down by the lake to photograph the swans.

We had a good time watching the birds feeding on plants in the shallow water close to shore, preening, and resting on the ice. There were probably two hundred tundra swans spread out along the edge of the ice for a quarter of a mile.

As I peered through the camera's viewfinder trying to anticipate action and capture some decent images, Zach would watch the larger group of swans and alert me if any were flapping their wings or flying.

"Flapping dad! Over here!" Zach would say, and I'd swing the camera in that direction and do my best to catch what he had seen.

Working as a team we were able to capture the images you see here. Zach got some turns with the camera and the chance to take some photos as well. I really liked listening to the swans as they talked almost incessantly the whole time we were there.

Often, I find myself grateful for the little things in life. Like spending time with one of my sons watching tundra swans along the shore of Lake Superior on a cold November day.  I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fall Tundra Swans

Two tundra swans set their wings to land

Every fall tundra swans stop over on the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior during their fall migration.

 One swan bites another after landing nearby.

More than one hundred swans were on the bay during 
Thanksgiving this year. The birds stop to rest and feed
on aquatic plants in the shallow water along the shoreline.

A swan runs on the water until it gains enough speed to take flight.

 I really enjoyed watching and photographing the swans with one of my sons. The birds are beautiful and were fun to listen to as they they fed and interacted with each other.

A swan flaps its wings as others rest on the ice nearby.
The swans stay only until the ice forms far enough out from the shore that they can no longer reach the plants they feed on.

A swan landing near another tundra swan.

Swans set their wings just before landing on the lake.

Once the ice gets too far out in the lake the swans take flight and continue their migration south. Consider yourself lucky if you happen to be near the Chequamegon Bay when the tundra swans show up in the fall, and have a great time watching these beautiful birds.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Wisconsin

Rainbows over a refuge road.

A male northern prairie skink.

A brown thrasher on its nest.

A singing red winged blackbird.


After the storm, clouds at sunset.


Rainbows over Phantom Lake.

A red fox kit.


An American bittern.


A red fox kit at its den.

A thirteen-lined ground squirrel.


Trumpeter swans.

A red fox with food for its kits.

An eastern king bird.

A bullsnake's face.

A bullsnake.

Sandhill cranes take flight.

In May I visited the Crex Meadows Wildlife Refuge located near Grantsburg Wisconsin for the first time. It turns out that Crex Meadows has a lot to offer nature photographers.  In just a few days I was able to locate and photograph trumpeter swans, northern prairie skinks, bullsnakes, sandhill cranes, bald eagles, white-tailed deer, red fox, and many other mammals and birds. 

I was surprised by the variety of species making their home on the refuge. I also saw coyotes and wolves, but wasn't able to photograph them. 

Crex Meadows is a wonderful place and one of the largest wildlife refuges in Wisconsin. While I was there I stopped in the visitor center and found the people to be incredibly kind and helpful. The refuge roads are in good shape, well layed out, and often close to water. 

If you get the chance, Crex Meadows is a great place to visit.  There is a lot to see and do there, and it was surprisingly uncrowded. I can't wait to go back.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall elk in Wisconsin

A medium sized bull elk pauses before crossing the road.

I didn't expect to get the chance to photograph Wisconsin elk this fall, so I was happily surprised to find myself in Clam Lake for part of three days last week.
The fall color was already past peak as seen in these morning reflections. 





A spike bull browses at the edge of the forest.



A family of wild turkeys heads for the woods after feeding near the roadside.

A bull elk walks across highway 77 on an October morning.

Golden oak leaves are back lit in a forest opening.

An immature red-tailed hawk watches for a possible meal from its perch.
The weather was warm and clear. It got as hot as 85 degrees one of the days I was there. I saw only eleven elk, five bulls and six cows and calves. I also saw several bald eagles, a few red-tailed hawks, and a coyote.

Photographing elk in Wisconsin is nothing like it is out west. There are only about 180 animals in the state and they behave very differently than their western counterparts. The Wisconsin elk seem content to hide out in the sheltering forests of the Clam Lake area. They have all of the food and water they need right there in the woods and don't seem to seek out meadows or other openings to gather harems in the fall.

In Wisconsin it seems to be a matter of catching the elk grazing along the roadside or in the act of crossing the road in order to get decent photos of them. Even so, with some patience, persistence, and a little luck Wisconsin elk can be fun.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Grizzly Bear and her cubs are in the news....

This sow grizzly with her two cubs of the year are getting some press. You can get the rest of the story at:

My photos and story about these Yellowstone grizzlies have been featured in Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tundra swans and other signs of spring...

My parents have lived near the Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior for several years now and every spring and fall my dad calls to tell me when the swans are there. Sometimes up to several hundred tundra swans will stop in and spend a few days or weeks laying over on the bay during their migration. This year I lucked out. Two days before my kids and I were planning to go up north for Easter my dad called to tell me the swans were there.

So along with everything else, I packed my camera and hoped that I might have happy kids, a little extra time, some good light, and swans on the lake while we were there. I did and here's some of what I saw.

The day we arrived it was sunny and in the 60's with no ice on Chequamegon Bay. The next morning the wind had switched and was from the north. The temperature dropped to around 40 degrees and pushed ice back into the bay. Here an adult and juvenile tundra swan run on the ice as they take flight.

Immature tundra swans are a grayish color and not all white like the adults. This immature swan is taking flight.

A group of tundra swans sit in an opening in the ice.

I put on chest waders and ventured into the lake in order to get these images. At times the wind was moving large rafts of ice right against the legs of my tripod. I'd stand to that side and use my legs to break up the sheets of ice before they could knock the camera over.

The whole experience was a bit surreal. I was wearing waders and standing in an ice bath with ice breaking against my legs and moving past me giving the impression that I was in fact moving and not stationary. The whole time swans were talking amongst themselves, making beautiful sounds that I can't well describe for you here.

The next evening was sunny and much warmer and I went down to the lake for about an hour near sunset. The swans weren't nearly as tolerant as the day before in the ice, but I did capture a few images.

After the swans left I found this snow bunting moving in stops and starts among the cattails in the marsh.

A few Canada geese were standing on the sand flats along the edge of the Bay. I hope your Easter was as good as mine. Jerry