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.