Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Weekend Walk at the Marsh - 130907

Yes, you will get to know this marsh - Horicon Marsh, through my eyes, my lens, quite often.  It is my place of 'peace'.  It surprises me every time I go.

Normally I am here once a week, except this year.  Despite my schedules that have kept me away, I got really depressed with the marsh early on this year because, whether it be the lack of rain or the decisions of the 'marsh people', there is little water there this year.  It has resulted in a lack of waterfowl and other water birds that I always enjoy going to hunt for...through my binoculars, in hopes of seeing that infrequent American Bittern, Black Necked Stilt, White Pelicans and Bald Eagles, young and adult.

It kept me away.

But I should know better.

Many a trip I have made out there just to get away, thinking all the way there that I am wasting gas..there isn't going to be anything there today, this time of year (whatever time it is, hot dry summer, cold winter day)...just to be totally surprised...normally close to the end of my visit when I am about to give up and 'poof', just like that,  I sight a rail, an American bittern...or even the more rare Least Bittern.

Hurriedly trying to get my 500mm out to try to get a shot, I just know it will be gone before I can.  Normally, I get some type of shot, normally not one to win a contest on....but good enough to make 'me' happy.To add to my photographic bird list.

So....mad a t the world about some silly thing last weekend, I piled every piece of camera equipment I own into the 4 Runner followed by my companion, Lexi with her leash carried in her we went to take a stroll on a half way decently warm fall like day...through the marsh.

There are many roads that you can take to get to different parts of the marsh.  Some I hardly ever frequent.  Others I frequent quite often.  We wanted to hike this time though so I parked in one of the parking lots on the auto tour route and we got out to see if the boardwalk and surrounding woods would greet us with something new and different.

Not much on the wildlife end except endless Mallards, a few grebes, and coots, but instead we enjoyed the beginning of the fall color change and what was left of the summer wildflowers and beautiful reflections throughout.

The trails through the woods had the fragrance that always brings back memories of discoveries of my childhood in the woods of New Hampshire.

There was only one big group of white pelicans which were way too far off for anyone to even know that is what they were.  I miss the pelicans this year.  I do.

I was able to grab a shot of the ever famous marsh hunter and fisher...the Great Blue Heron, feeding on carp. This alone..was a life revitalizing event for me...although not so much for that little fat fish.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Weekend Walk - Labor Day 2013

I hope you enjoy my walks as much as I do...because they always have been and always will life saving, mental vacations much needed.

So...we start....

With this place that I visit semi often from spring through til fall...a bit of northern Wisconsin known as the Crivitz area.  As most other places, it changes from season to season and I'll share it's different 'seasonal attire' with you as often as I can.

Labor Day weekend is generally one of the last times throughout the year I get here because then...hunting season takes over and I prefer not to walk the woods when there are...unknown armed bandits out there somewhere.  I do good enough just walking the woods in my own neighbor wearing my orange attire...blaze of my least favorite colors!!

We actually had  bit cooler weather...and some rain after some warm and humid days and I was greeted, and surprised with some dandy fungi activity.

Luckily I had my macro lense with me.  I would have been totally disappointed with myself if I didn't. For those of you that follow me often enough, you probably know by now my love for mushrooms and gnomes and all that magical fairytale stuff.

The morning was greeted with a bit of sunshine out the back window at which I stare out of quite often watching the antics of the blue jays and chipmunks and many other birds as they migrate through the area.  After morning coffee and a bit of reading and relaxing on the front porch, I meander through the garden area, small as it is, I always discover something awesome.

A walk through the woods this day down a new trail, through the trees and across some summer wildflower and grassy terrain, my Lexi enjoyed romping with ears flopping in excitement to be able to run free and discover.  Romping through the field resulted in a mid morning swim and bobbing for some river seaweed of some sort or another.

Many of my 'weekend meanders' include a drive along with the walk so we were able to enjoy a bit of Peshtigo Wi also where we discovered these hip little steers.  Not sure what they are but they reminded me and made me so homesick for Texas.  They became as curious about me as I was about them.

We found a dam area with an awesome bridge and an old railroad track.  A couple more favorite things of mine.

It was a well needed walk.

An area I might want to discover on my own again sometime.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Horicon Marsh - Brownsville WI

I can't believe I haven't shared more on this spot with you.  My most favorite spot to visit that is close to home.   Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin.  A place of migrating birds. Herons that will literally stand and pose for you. Sunsets and sunrises to die for.  Ducks of all kinds.  Cranes.  Sandhill Cranes and if you are lucky, a quick view of the few visiting Whooping Cranes from time to time.

The boardwalk is wonderful and will change each and every year. Some years the waters will offer all kinds of waterfowls.  Some years there will be more cattails than water.  During drought periods you can enjoy a variety of wading birds, plovers, and herons as well as frogs.
The Pied Billed Grebe is one of my favorites that I know I can depend on seeing regardless of the time of year or condition of the waters.  There is always one somewhere to be found.  It's awesome to be able to watch them pluck one leg a a time off of a crawfish before they dine on it.
White Pelicans.  Another of my all time favorite...a sentimental value to my lost sister.  Entertaining and beautiful in everything they do.
The sandhill crane, increasing rapidly in population.  VIsit in the fall and you will find areas that are just covered with them just prior or during fall migration.  Remember the days when they were also so rare. Hopefully some day..the whooping will be just as abundant.

The Bobolink...what a wonderful tuxedo they wear for us.  A very difficult, constantly in motion little bird. A definite requirement for a long lense and lots of patience.
Teals...mostly blue winged but sightings of the Greens can be found in the spring.
Eagle, old and young. This juvenile was very active during the Bird Festival that is held in May every year.   A wonderful experience that everyone should enjoy.
The Dickcissle.  Listen to it's wonderful song.  This one sat for me for a long time on a windy day.  I was pleased to have captured it at a point when the wind gave up for a second.
Ah, yes...the American Bittern.  What an amazing imitator.  Trying to look like a blade of grass or a dead branch...blending in to the surroundings.  This one I found on a hot summer, dry day when I thought for sure there would be nothing to see in the Marsh.  I think it was right around my birthday and I needed my daily drive to escape from the horrors of work.  This guy did it for me.

If you watch closely and know where to look, the Least Bittern can be found.  For me, it was like finding gold when I discovered them.
A sunset.  A breathe of fresh air.

Time to go home.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Torrey Pines California

This is definitely a place you must visit if you ever get to San Diego, California. This is the view overlooking San Diego from one of the upper parking lots.  

Take time to walk the trails and enjoy the landscape, the rock formations,  the cacti and the trees.  The forms of the trees.  The desert like flowers were unique in their own characteristic and brightened the fallen tree trunks and ro
The desert like flowers were unique in their own characteristic and brightened the fallen tree trunks and rock sides.

Walk the beach.  Enjoy the view.  There were cute little crablike things everywhere that the children were collecting.

Watch your step though as the bees seemed to be attracted to the beach sand also.  Maybe to collect water in such a dry landscape.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bucket List - San Diego Zoo (CHECK)

Yes, I have a bucket most.  Most of mine involves places I want to travel to.  In the US.  Around the world .  With my son having just gotten hitched in California, it provided me the perfect opportunity to tackle one that I have had for a long time. The. San. Diego. Zoo.  

So I am going to say this right biggest disappointment was...we found no signs of them having penguins.  Really?  No Penguins.  I have to just believe that we rushed through everything and just missed the.  Totally no excuse for not having penguins.  
Of course, there were flamingos.  This picture doesn't reflect the spot where they had several with nests that actually had eggs in them. a flamingo chick.  Thank goodness...they grow up to be beautiful.  Definitely a face only a mother could love.  (smiling)

A stork of a different sort. My goal for this picture was mainly for the reflection/shadow in the water.  I believe it was bald as most other storks but his head was black so it was difficult to really tell.  He stood so still...except his head he did move around to confirm...he really was alive.

A zebra gone bad?
This is a hippo.  Yes.  It was very difficult to get a good picture mainly because I believe most of the people at the zoo this day was the hippo pool trying to get pictures. Yes, those are it's teeth.

A hog of sorts.  Beautiful color with a ridgeback.  Sorry, didn't capture alot of the official names...after all..what's in a name, right?

This cute monkey climbed to the top and posed just perfectly.  Here we have the Pandas.  On the right, a red Panda.  Below the one we all know well but wait...what...they don't eat just bamboo and vegetation. They actually are known to capture animals and tear their head off before dining on them.  Now how cute and cuddly are they to you. This was the young cub.  Mom and Dad were quietly sleeping...and I'm kind of glad.

The red Panda...I think every zoo I have gone to resulted with the red Panda in this exact pose. 
 This next guy is a Sun Bear.  The cutest face ever.  It was warm out and he was definitely enjoying the summer dip. 

I was very impressed with my new lense that allowed me to capture these.  Hand held and panning to try to capture him.  Of course, the hummer was nice enough to not zip away and hung around long enough feeding on the agapanthas long enough to allow me to capture these. 

This guy was really into his bone!!!

And this was a result of being in the right place at the right time....taking a summer daytime sprtiz shower.

And the Koala did as I always see them doing...sleeping.  This little one woke up enough and moved around enough to at least have allowed everyone to see his face and watch him stretch and yawn a bit.

Being the gardener that I am...I almost enjoyed the plethora and wide variety of vegetation as I did the animals,

We rushed through everything trying to keep the girls entertained and on some type of a schedule considering the next day we had to fly home.  Was I overly impressed with the San Diego Zoo...not overly.  The animal areas were kind of small for my liking. It was a massive zoo and definitely need to have at minimum the FULL day to see what you can and maybe even come back for another.  Again, I enjoyed the vegetations as much...and I still fully enjoy the Milwaukee Zoo.  

I was told that the Omaha Zoo is as good...or better than the San Diego.

I think I will figure out how to be the judge of that.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ridge Run County Park, West Bend WI

 Oh Mother Nature, the wonders you and Father Winter create together.

I love the out of doors.  I love the woods.  It is my place of rescue.  It saves my life so many times in so many ways.  I can't comprehend the thought of not having places such as this to 'run away' to.

Nor can my hiking buddy.

Yes, she loves to walk herself...and I love the attention she gets by doing it!!!
She is a January baby and you can tell it.

This is Ridge Run County Park in West Bend, Wisconsin.  It is a must hike place at any season.  I always always find something to smile about when I am there.  Winter and Fall are my favorite times for the serenity of it all.

Summer provides many opportunities of wildlife as the squirrels and chipmunks busily enjoy the bounties and deer watch until you come too near.  Mallards and geese enjoy the water ways from time to time. Turkeys will scare the you know what out of you.  It's amazing how such a large, klutzy looking bird can be so quiet until you are right on top of it. If you are lucky, you can enjoy the call of the Barred owls that frequent there and even luckier to catch a glimpse.

Fall brings absolutely awesome colors reflecting off the water.  A plethora of colorful leaves will mesmerize you as they float through and around the small waterfall that can be find just a short hike down the main trail that follows the creek.

Spring brings wildflowers...although not overly abundant...but refreshing to say the least and if you have a passion for those crazy mushrooms and brackets, you are bound to come across those also.

Bring your fishing pole and fish.  Skate during the winter or slide down the huge hill into the field where soccer normally would be played during the 'greener' times of the year.  There is a playground for the little ones...or the young at heart.  Rest rooms are well kept.  Pavilion areas can be rented for family reunions.

Walk to the marshier area that leads you across on a boardwalk and enjoy the antics and music of the frogs through spring summer and even into fall, or the colorful trees and cattails in autumn and snowy landscapes in the winter.
The trail is intermediate, I would say.  There are areas that are mostly flat but other areas that have some slight inclines and even inclines of 45 to 60 degrees maybe (sorry, not a good judge of that).  Regardless, there are benches throughout to rest and relax on while taking it all in.

Portions of the trail are the Ice Age Trail and it will also take you further back outside  the boundaries of the park along a ridge where you will also find a wood bridge.  If you have time and energy, it is definitely a trail to take.

Dogs are allowed on a leash but please, oh please, carry a bag to pick up what they..or you...might want to leave behind.  It is well worth a park to keep clean and enjoyable for all.

(I discovered this park during the first couple of weeks of my life here in Wisconsin back in 2004.  My brother introduced me to it and that very first time I walked the trail back towards the little waterfall, a family of three or four little raccoons walked right across the path in front of me.  I could say...'you had me at the raccoons'.  I visit it several times every year, every season...and am never disappointed.)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Yellowstone National Park

..and then came Yellowstone.  Miles and miles of discovery.  Miles and miles of road and pine forests.

Elk, black bear, grizzlies, pronghorn, mule deer, ravens, eagles, osprey, waterfalls, sulfur pits, Old Faithful.

Did I say...a week is definitely not enough time.

We stayed in the Mammoth Springs Hotel.  The rooms have no tv, no radio and no bathroom.  You share a restroom/shower area with an entire floor of rooms.  We were there at the peak of opening season, peak of baby season, and although we had to share the facilities with an entire floor, only once during our stay there did I have to wait an extra five minutes to get into the shower.  I never had to wait for the restroom itself.  We had no problem with noise and party people.  We had an awesome view the mountains around us.  Every day, right outside our window, right outside the hotel in the parking lot median area, were groups of elk.  Very very inspirational.  I still....don't want to come home.  I still sense the feelings I had while I was there.

This corner of the park definitely is the place to see (oh my gosh, I forgot to add Bison to my list above...truly the most abundant animal in the park) the wildlife.  I believe we drove every road in the park while we were there and this northeast corner has the most to offer from a wildlife viewing point if you are trying to do it from your car.  I highly recommend you get out from behind the wheel though and hike the trails.  It took us three days to see a black bear.It took us two and hiking on the back trails to get some awesome opportunities to get up close with the bighorn sheep,pronghorn and other little furry critters that entertained us.  We found one trail that followed a portion of the river that wasn't used much where I discovered all kinds of bird life that I had not seen anywhere else in the park..including a pair of mandarin ducks.

The last half of our week there, we moved to the Canyon Creek cabins.  They are not stand alone cabins.  More like duplexes...with thin walls.  We didn't have much of a view there and check in was long and way past normal check in time..but we had our own bathroom in our room.  The area there was under renovation but it didn't really pose a problem as you don't tend to spend a lot of time right there.  The cafeteria food was good and reasonable, quick and easy and all we needed.

It was this part of the park that we saw grizzlies...early early in the morning.  There are large open field areas where there were always entertainment from the bison and that is also were we discovered black and white coyotes.  A pair of each.
The Grand Canyon area of Yellowstone is awesome to see with the waterfalls and if you are lucky you will find ospreys nesting at the top of rocks in the middle of the canyon.  That in itself was worth the view.

If you have a lot of energy...I highly recommend the Elephant Back trail is a climb.  We would climb five minutes and take a break...meanwhile, some young man that apparently lived nearby...jogged...yes...jogged past us on the way up.  Jogged?  Really??  And I thought I was fit!!!  This trail presented us with entertaining squirrels and fox and an absolutely 'to die for' view of Yellowstone Lake.

So again...please do find time to get out from behind the wheel.  The experience is so much more worth it.

Yes, we saw Old Faithful.  The food was good while we waited.  It was an experience to see all the people waiting...for a five or ten minute view of water spewing out of the ground.  I'm glad I experienced it.  Would I do it again?  Probably not...unless I do it at a time in the evening when it is lit up.  I think that might have been more inspirational for me...but it really is just personal preference.

The first few days we were there, the temperatures were in the 70s..and yet we were still able to enjoy some of the snowcapped mountain views around us.  Mid week when we moved to the Canyon area, we woke to freezing temperatures and light new dusting of we travelled up into the higher areas of the park, on narrow roads, but this is truly the one most beautiful view and experience that i will not forget about my trip to Yellowstone.    I'm glad it didn't 'dump' on us and close the park down...but so glad it did the bit of dusting that it did.

Definitely... a trip I will have to plan again.  This was a discovery trip and I know what I would do different next time.

You may, of course, email me, if you have any questions via the comment section of my post.

Happy travels.