Friday, October 31, 2008


Just a quick post to let you know that the Sandhill Cranes are still at Crex Meadows in substantial numbers, as you can see from this shot. Most of them were just East of the South end of Phantom Lake; if you go beyond the dirt road heading Northeasterly, there is an overlook covering a large area. I suspect that they may roost there and, if so, this would be a great spot to see them just before sunrise. There were also many on the East side of West Refuge Road.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Crex Meadows IV

As I was leaving Crex Meadows, I came upon this attractive pair. I first took some shots out of my car window and then the sun roof. They didn't seem phased! Next I ventured outside with my tripod and attempted to get a shot without too many branches in front of them. Complicating the situation was a fairly strong wind that kept moving the eagles & the branches. These two were my best photos. Oh, to find the time to go back!
I could be mistaken, but I think this was on the Main Dike Rd., just East of East Refuge Rd.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Whooping Cranes

Follow their man-assisted migration to Florida here .
Help fund it here and follow them on the map.
Thanks to Stan Tekiela for bringing this site to my attention through his NatureSmart column.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Crex Meadows III

Snow Bunting

nap time
more to come

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Crex Meadows II

another of the many Coot gatherings on Phantom Lake
Finally! Some Sandhill Cranes on the ground & fairly close! Another photographer, Anna Martineau Merritt , said that the cranes were much more wary than in previous years due to the large numbers of birders in the area looking for Whoopers.
more to follow

Friday, October 24, 2008

Crex Meadows

Upon leaving the Fish Lake area, about 3 mi. South of Grantsburg, I headed to Crex Meadows, just a mile or so North of Grantsburg. I was greeted by flying Sandhill Cranes there also.
My goodness they look ungainly as they come in for a landing!
tons of coots in every direction
with the occasional swans & geese thrown in
more to come

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fish Lake IV

After an hour or so on the West side of Duehorn Flowage it was time to head up to Crex Meadows. I took County Hwy. O East to State Hwy. 87 and drove North towards Grantsburg. The cranes that had been leaving Duehorn were now flying towards me allowing me to get the following shots.
next:  Crex Meadows

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fish Lake III

As I was scanning the field, I came upon this hawk watching the goings on.
This is my current screensaver. These shots were taken with the 400mm lens + 2x converter. I was a LONG distance from the birds!
more to follow

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fish Lake II

I was anxious to get to the Fish Lake Wildlife Area before dawn for two reasons:
First, Sandhill Cranes begin to move out of their roosting area at or just before sunrise.
Second, I had read on Crex Meadow's web site that, as of the previous Sunday, several Whooping Cranes had been sighted at Fish Lake, specifically near the Dueholm Flowage.
I knew that my odds of seeing Whoopers were slim to none -- but, perhaps better than winning the lottery. I won't keep you in suspense -- I did not find any Whoopers. That doesn't mean they weren't there; it is just difficult to see what is there. (I could also blame the duck hunters which I'm sure encouraged the Cranes to disburse early with their shooting.) I approached the Dueholm Flowage from the North on Hickerson Road. However, there is no overlook to see a large area from the East. Having discovered that, I drove around to the West side and Stolte Road. It is from the parking spot on the East side of the road that these pictures were taken. Another good vantage point might be the dike just South of the flowage. It is accessible only by foot and I didn't have time to attempt that since sunrise was imminent.

before sunrise

at sunrise

shortly after sunrise

coming & going

on the ground the remaining cranes were restless as the fog lifted

the elapsed time between the first and last photos in this series was about 30 minutes
more to follow

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fish Lake Wildlife Area

Following in the footsteps of Mike & Liz, here is a sunrise from my trip last Saturday to Crex Meadows & the Fish Lake Wildlife Area.
I've been without the Internet for a while, hence the delay in posting. More to follow. Crex & Fish Lake are marvelous places to visit.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

400mm lens experiment -- IV

This is the final installment of testing my ability to hand-hold Canon's 400mm f/5.6 lens w/out image stabilization. I won't repeat the details; if you missed them, please check the previous 3 days of posts. Comments, as always, are welcome.

4/5 of full frame -- 1/1000 sec.

3/5 of full frame -- 1/200 sec.

1/5 of full frame -- 1/250 sec.

1/6 of full frame -- 1/2000 sec.

1/2 of full frame -- 1/1600 sec.
My conclusions from this testing:  Yes, I can hand-hold the 400mm given good light, high ISOs (and, consequently, high shutter speed), sequential/continual shooting, and minimal cropping. I felt sufficiently confident so that when I finally did get to Crex Meadows this morning, most of my shots were hand-held. I also visited the Fish Lake Wildlife Area -- but more about that in future posts. (It will take me a day or so to edit the 500+ shots.)
I want to thank everyone for their encouragement and kind words.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

400mm lens experiment -- III

Since my trip to Crex was postponed, I am continuing with my 400mm lens experiment. For details as to what I was trying to accomplish, please look at the introductions of the posts for the previous two days. All of the photos are hand-held at f/5.6. The selections are the best from sequences ranging from 3-10.

4/5 of full frame  1/4000 sec.

1/8 full frame  1/400 sec.
This is a significant crop of the full frame, but I wanted to see how much detail would be preserved when shooting at 1/400 sec. with a hand-held 400 mm lens. I think the results would have been even better with more lighting.

1/6 full frame  1/160

1/6 full frame  1/4000

full frame  1/4000   No wonder sparrows are so hard to find!

1/6 full frame  1/4000  He'd had enough of me!
the rest to follow

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

400mm lens experiment -- II

This is a continuation of yesterday's post; I was trying to determine whether I could hand-hold my Canon 400mm f/5.6 lens (which doesn't have image stabilization). As in yesterday's post, all photos were taken with the lens wide open at f/5.6, but at ISO 800. As indicated below, some of the shots were cropped. I continued to shoot repeating shots; the published photos were usually picked from a sequence of 4 to 8.

75% full-frame  1/1600 sec. -- the out-of-focus areas show considerable grain

full-frame  1/2000 sec.

1/6 full-frame  1/4000 sec.

1/5 full-frame  1/4000 sec.

80% full-frame  1/250 sec.

80% full-frame  1/250

full-frame  1/5000 sec.  I don't know why the contrast is so high even though I tried to reduce it in editing

2/3 full-frame  1/2000 sec.

Overall I'm pleased with the results, particularly the sharpness at 1/250 sec. I will post more pictures from the session later -- tomorrow I'm off to Crex Meadows if the weather is decent, as promised.