Friday, July 12, 2013
North Central Wisconsin
We entered Wisconsin on the north central border where the two states join Lake Superior. We started our state bird list a few feet from the border with a female Ruffed Grouse - we interrupted her dust bath.
Our first nights in the state were spent at Copper Falls State Park. We walked the two mile trail along the gorge of the Bad River. The spectacular falls along the loop were Copper Falls, Brownstone Falls and the Cascades (pictured).
We took a round-about tour of the Clam Lake area before a parallel journey along the border to the Land of Lakes area, seeing a black bear and coyote. We camped at Lac Vieux Desert (use the French pronunciation) for two nights listening to the neighbors fire crackers.
Early on the 4th of July we went to Fire Lane Road north of Conover hoping to see a Spruce Grouse. This handsome male stepped out on the road for grit right in front of us. Because it was too dark, Ty had left the camera in the RV which meant a half mile jog back to get it. Fortunately, the bird stayed and he was able to get this great photo.
Our next destination was the Forest County roads east of Three Lakes. Slowly driving the dusty Pine River, Giant Pine, Sheltered Valley, Divide and Scott's Lake Roads listening and pishing for birds. Be careful what you pish for: because you could get bombarded by a fast flying Northern Goshawk, or a Yellow-rumped Warbler could come in the open window, landing on the dash board, leaving a calling card before being safely escorted back outside.
At noon we stopped back on Pine River Road near the Giant Pine intersection and walked west along the tamarack bog. This hen Spruce Grouse and 3 chicks flushed along the roadside. The hen posed for pictures but the chicks quickly dispersed into the ferns. If only we could have gotten a photo of the chicks.
As we continued our walk on the road, we were blessed with three singing Boreal Chickadees, a rare summer find indeed.
Our boreal journey would not be complete without stopping at County A Bog west of Three Lakes. Do not count your chicks before they hatch, however on this day we had a second opportunity to see Spruce Grouse chicks. This chick and a hen flushed literally at our feet.
We zig-zagged our way from Three Lakes to Merrill adding birds and this large Porcupine along the way. We settled into Council Grounds State Park on the Wisconsin River.
We spent some hours driving the many roads around the George W. Mead Wildlife Area. Many Black Terns were feeding over the flowerage. We stopped at the attractive and educational Visitor's Center landscaped with beautiful blooming prairie flowers. It was also fun to find Yellow-headed Blackbirds for our year list.
The sweet & melodious song of the Western Meadowlark greeted us along the roads of the Buena Vista Grasslands. Then there were the loud Dickcissels, gurgling Bobolinks, 8 species of sparrows, Brewer's Blackbirds, the wolf whistle of the Upland Sandpiper, the winnowing Wilson's Snipe and finding an Am. Woodcock sitting on the road. Our best surprise was a pair of Loggerhead Shrikes nesting in a "wind break planting" on Taft Road.
At Sandhill Wildlife Area, here's what you would expect to see - Sandhill Cranes. These two colts were with Mom & Dad, one colt getting a treat from Mom. We spent the night at Arbutus Lake in Hatfield.
This fawn is forced to endure the plague of insects: gnats, deer flies (check forehead), mosquitoes, black flies, and wood ticks of the Necehah Wildlife Refuge. Unlike us, who escaped from the bugs inside the vehicle. From the observation tower we saw 5 Whooping Cranes and a flock of Solitary Sandpipers.
What a day! Not all travel routes are super highways, and not all vehicles (a 6 ton motorhome) are designed for ATV roads. But God is good! Getting us out of a sand trap (yes, stuck, but free at last after considerable digging), and through a deep mud hole. He blessed us with a beautiful sunset and His promise for a better tomorrow.
What an adventure!
Ty & Ida Baumann