pewit’s nest is a sandstone gorge thru which runs skillet creek. it appears the gorge was formed when glacial lake wisconsin burst its shores and carved out all manner of getaways in the surrounding terrain. it’s a beauty with several low waterfalls and a small forest surrounding.
on this trip, some titmice welcomed us onto the path, virginia waterleaf was getting going, and we had the pleasure of meeting a barred owl just hanging out in the top of a conifer growing on the northern side of the gorge.
the site was being abused by folks leaving garbage and tromping off the trails a while back, and i was glad to see that it looks like things are going better now, and that it’s because the dnr enabled access rather than denying more access. that is, they made more deliberate paths, put up wooden fences to steer folks thru the site and off the bluffs etc. good stuff and a welcome end to easter sunday 2022.
milwaukee river and swamp sna is a mixed site with lowland forest, conifer swamp, and shrub zones. the east branch of the milwaukee river flows thru the site, and it hugs mauthe lake. the lake, river, and wetlands make the site a popular home and migration corridor for birds. we saw a song sparrow, common mergansers, buffle heads, a bald eagle, and downy woodpeckers, along with several more common species. my wife spotted the eagle standing on the lake ice a few hundred yards off and then it took off and flew right over us, as cranes called from further afield.
the walk thru the lowland hardwood forest was full of life, even at this early part of the year. so much to hear and smell and see and touch. we didn’t make it far enough to get to the swamp, but there’s always next time.
spring lake is an alkaline lake surrounded by fen and northern wet forest. the wdnr says the shoreline is a bog shelf and that plants characteristic of fens and bogs live together in the mats of vegetation surrounding, an odd combination.
we were game for it, and the area was inviting (especially with rubber boots). we were welcomed most prominently by two (then three) sandhill cranes making regular calls the whole time we were there, with the echoes of another pair somewhere beyond the tamaracks sounding in between.
shannon preserve is 34 acres down the road from the cedarburg bog sna on hwy 33 in ozaukee cty. marsh, shrub carr, lowland hardwood forest, wet and upland meadows. no trails to speak of, which was nice. an unnamed stream meanders thru the site on its way to one of the lakes in cedarburg bog. its ice shelf was precarious and fun to admire.
we hung out with a white breasted nuthatch, and came out of the woods to meet two sandhill cranes flying across the meadow singing away—our first sandhill sighting of the year. it was our first hike outside the city in weeks, the first with warm sun in months. it was a good day.
veterans park lies along milwaukee’s lakefront and includes monuments to honor veterans, trails, shoreline, and a 14-acre lagoon. the lagoon is a favorite hangout for a number of water birds, and last year my wife and i discovered that green herons and black-crowned night herons find it attractive as a fishing hole.
this year there’s a siege of night herons hanging out, but who knows if they’ll linger over the summer (here’s hoping for our sake). i’ve visited them a couple times, and it’s mighty impressive just being in their vicinity as they roost and fly about. the lower water level lately has enabled me to walk out under their roosting trees over the water’s edge.
as i don’t have a “serious” camera, i’m not able to get really good shots of them, but i decided when i started doing this that i wasn’t going to let tech limitations prevent me from sharing and writing about things that i enjoy. so, not great photos, but i’m too excited about the night herons to care! 🙂 (tho’ p.s., i’m starting to look at serious cameras…)