With the Independence Day holiday last week I had a three day weekend so I decided to head over to central Wisconsin and shoot in the Necedah NWR for a couple of days. This was my first opportunity to get a look at the new visitors center and it is very impressive. Inside is a store, educational displays, offices, an info desk, small theatre and a nice sitting room complete with a fireplace. You can see from the picture above that much of the building is powered by renewable solar power.
One of the things that Necedah is famous for is their work with the endangered whooping crane. It is dangerous to have the majority of the remaining population of whoopers all in one area. Disease or natural disaster could destroy the entire population adding another extinct bird to the list. So the staff at Necedah has been working with a number of other organizations to set up a second migrating population. Unfortunately the only crane that I spotted over the weekend was a sandhill crane.
There were a lot of young birds that had recently fledged. I found a young kingbird perched on a branch overhanging a small stream. I watched for a while and was rewarded as one of the parents came down to feed the youngster a plump insect.
As I watched the kingbirds feeding four river otters appeared and began to play in the stream. So I switched subjects. I think that Michelle was kind of jealous because she really likes to watch otters.
Necedah has a variety of habitats to explore. Near the new Visitors Center they have built some trails into and over the wetlands. Raised boardwalks help give visitors a good look at wildlife with out getting their feet too wet.
I also took a hike on the new boardwalk that skits a boggy area. I was hoping to get a glance and a photo of a ringed boghaunter dragonfly. Necedah is in one of the few counties in Wisconsin where this member of the emerald family can be found, the only other place to find them in the Midwest is Michigan. It was a little late in the year for the boghaunter but I did find quite a few racket-tailed emeralds.
Also near the bog trail I found several bobolink. There were two pairs that squawked at me noisily as I walked down the trail. I wonder if they were nesting near the trail and I was getting to close to the nest.
One of the birds that I always like to photograph when I go to Necedah is the red-headed woodpecker. Although they are not endangered like the whooper are their population has been decreasing over the years. The problem that they are facing is habitat lose. Red-headed woodpeckers live in a habitat that has a lot of dead trees for nesting and caching food. They also require some space between the trees. This type of habitat has become scarce and the red-head population has declined as a result. Fortunately Necedah still has a lot of area that fits the bill and it is quite easy to see the red-heads flitting between the trees.
On my way out of the refuge I saw another youngster crossing the road. Mom was already in the woods on the side of the road but junior slowed down to take a look at the curios shiny creature on the road in front of him.