Saturday, October 2, 2010
On Friday October 1st, I did a road-trip to Crex Meadows in western Wisconsin. It was cloudy and looked like rain for the entire 80 mile drive. I arrive at the wildlife and education visitor center around noon just as the rain started. I decided to gear up for the rain and hike the short trail and boardwalk near the center. I got a few shots of leaves on pond shots and saw a white-tailed deer (didn't get shot). Towards the end of the hike I came to a swampy boggy area across the trail. In my laziness, decided to hop across on the "high" spots. I ended up discovering that the water was about 2 inches deeper than my hiking boots. Hey, did you know Gore-Tex doesn't keep water out when it goes over your boot? I made it back to the truck, rung out my sock and put it on the dash with the heater on full blast.
I drove up phantom lake road and stopped here and there when I saw something interesting. I got a couple shots of ducks and this white-crowned sparrow from the truck. Once my sock and boot dried out and the rain subsided, I looked for a spot for a lunch picnic. I saw this duck in a canal from about 20 yards away. It watched me for a minute or so then submerged never to be seen again. After lunch, I went for a short hike to see what I could see.
My drive took me all around the area. I took short excursions to dead-end parking lots and resumed on the loop. I went for another short hike at a rest area in the northern end of the "meadow." Throughout, the rain threatened.
I saw this bird land and drove up slowly. It stayed on the ground while I got out and captured my first decent shot of a northern harrier. There were quite a few around the area in the north east.
The rain moved in around 5pm. This was actually not disappointing. The showers were isolated so I had high hopes for a great sunset. I ended up going west to hit phantom lake road again. I remembered that the lake is on the east side of the road and should make for some good shots at Sunset. I found a nice spot near a lone birch tree and a small pond. From the moment I got out of the truck, I could hear sandhill cranes making lots of noise nearby. Within a few minutes, 4 of them dropped in about a 100 yards or so from me. You can see scores of them in the background of this shot. There were some hunters nearby. I saw their truck and heard their gunfire but couldn't see them until they came out to collect their game. After their last barrage, the nearby cranes took off to join the main crowd, well out of my sight.
The colors were brilliant. I didn't have to tweat most of them in post-processing. Here is the whole slideshow. Please try the full screen version by clicking on the icon in the lower right.
Crex Meadows Collection