Sunday, September 11, 2011

Whooping Cranes in the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

Val's photo of a pair of endangered Whooping Cranes find a home in the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, WI; 8/13/2011.
On our way home from our trip to Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota, we stopped at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Central Wisconsin, to see if we could find any interesting birds in mid August. In our two hour exploration of the 44,000 acreage, I identified 26 different species, but the best of the bunch was our first look at Whooping Cranes in the wild (Above - Val's photo of two Whooping Cranes making a landing in the distance). Last summer we saw Whooping Cranes at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, WI, but these were in captivity (below), albeit in a very nice habitat.  But seeing them in the wild a month ago was a treat, especially since they are an endangered species. They became #327 on my Life Bird List and my 52nd new bird added to the list this year - 2011.
A Whooping Crane at the International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, WI; 7/31/2010.

Another Whooping Crane at the International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, WI; 7/31/2010.
The best photo I could manage of a wild Whooping Crane, Necedah NWR, WI; 8/13/2011.
While I was searching out other birds, I heard some Sandhill Cranes cackling in the distance. Their sounds were soon joined by some other bugling that I knew weren't Sandhills and was hoping were Whooping Cranes, which are sometimes sighted at this Refuge. I was probably over 100 yards away when I heard the Whoops of the Whooping Cranes and I saw a pair of them flying low over the grassland prairie I tried to follow them with my camera and snapped a few photos before they landed out of sight. Coupled with a cloudy day and far distance, and me not having the capability of auto focus (which I prefer to do with BIF shots), the photo quality was not very good (Above was probably my least worst of the bunch). When my 1.4x extender is on my 500mm Sigma Lens (5-6.3), my auto focus becomes disabled, which, of course is a huge disadvantage when trying to get pics of birds in flight (BIF). I am not quick enough to manually adjust my focus on a moving target, especially when my subject is over a hundred yards away.

Val's photo showing a boardwalk trail in one of the marshes of the Necedah NWR, WI; 8/13/2011.
Necedah National Wildlife Refuge (Above) is a fantastic place to do birding. It has a great variety of habitat: woodland, marshes and bogs, meadows and prairie, open water, and boasts that it is not only a nesting ground for Whooping Cranes but home for other rare species such as the Blanding Turtle and the Gray Wolf.   For more info about Necedah NWR, here is a link:
Brown Thrasher, Necedah NWR, WI; 8/13/2011.
Identified Birds from Necedah NWR on 8/13/2011: Great Blue Heron,  Sora rail (heard several), White Pelicans (two squadrons adding up to 4 dozen), Sandhill Cranes (at least 4), Whooping Cranes (2), Mallards, Canada Geese, Ring-billed Gulls, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, American Robins, Blue Jays, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Wood Peewee, American Goldfinch, Cedar Waxwings, Brown Thrasher (Above & Below), Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows, Mourning Dove, Song Sparrows, Savanah Sparrows, Tufted Titmouse, Gray Catbirds, American Crows, and a Red-winged Blackbird (juvenile female).  Also we saw a mother White-tailed Deer with twin fawns. Below are more photos:
Brown Thrasher, Necedah NWR, WI; 8/13/2011.

A juvenile female Red-winged Blackbird, Necedah NWR, WI; 8/13/2011.

A squadron of White Pelicans, Necedah NWR, WI; 8/13/2011.

Val's photo of White Pelicans coming in for a landing, Necedah NWR, WI; 8/13/2011.

Twin White-tailed Fawns, Necedah NWR, WI; 8/13/2011.
Sunset of the Day
Although it's not technically a sunset, this dramatic sky was taken from my brother's front porch, after a tornado threat swept through Poynette Wisconsin; 6/6/2006. 

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