Friday, September 1, 2006
Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Wisconsin
Every piece of camera equipment you own can be of use here. A long lens in the 300-600mm range is helpful in photographing birds and other animals. A large supply of summer flowers makes your macro equipment a good choice. You'll also find an abundance of butterflies and other insects. Don't forget your wide-angle lens, especially in summer, when the rolling hills are often covered with wildflowers.
Crex Meadows is one of the upper Midwest's premier wildlife areas. In April, look for the sharp-tailed grouse to perform its mating dance. Phantom Lake as well as the many ponds and flowages make this a waterfowl and wading bird paradise, with grebes, goons, trumpeter swans, bitterns, great blue herons, great egrets, yellow rails, sandhill cranes, Canada geese, snow geese and white pelicans. Bald eagles, osprey, red-tailed hawk and northern harrier nest here as well. In wintertime, several owl species can be seen. The mammal list includes common pocket gophers, Franklin's ground squirrels and snowshoe hares. More elusive but even more rewarding wildlife are gray wolves, bobcats, black bears and red foxes. Blinds, scent masks and calls may be necessary to bring in any of these animals.
Crex Meadows is certainly not one of the best-known nature spots in our nation. Many nature-loving Wisconsin residents don't even know about it. It can be well worth the trip to visit and photograph such a diverse place.
Spring and fall are the best times to catch birds in migration. The numbers of waterfowl alone can be in the thousands. Summer is the time to see nesting birds and flower-covered landscapes. The winter, though cold and snowy, has its own rewards with migrating owls and the greater possibility of photographing wolves and foxes.
Contact: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, (715) 463-2896, http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/wildlife/reclands/crex/.
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