bit of a late entry; end-of-term was something else!
happy hollow is a 192-acre park in rock county, wisconsin between janesville and beloit. i grew up in janesville, and used to drive to beloit quite a bit down hwy 51; never knew this was here. apparently my parents used to visit sometimes when they were younger.
the land, along the rock river, was purchased in three installments by the county from private landowners. it’s still in kind of a ‘u’ shape due to there being a farm field on either side of the drive in.
mother’s day morning neither of us could sleep, so my wife suggested we venture out before anyone else was up. we laid there for a bit, then i said, ‘well, those birds aren’t going to watch themselves.’ i hung a “gone birdin'” sign on my parents’ tv and we lit out down hwy 51 in the breaking dawn.
so many song birds, delightful flowers, a quadruped skeleton in the underbrush near a false-solomon’s seal stand, and some bald eagles flying downstream. the highlight though had to be the prothonotary warbler who hung out with us for a good 10-15 minutes overlooking the river. chipper little guy.
first id’s of waterthrush, prothonotary warbler, and small-flowered buttercup!
another former railroad right-of-way that has been turned into a trail with prairie remnants running along either side. this was a quickish stop on my way back from oshkosh to milwaukee (a bit out of the way but not so much i didn’t take the opportunity). after two+ days of silence, it was a treat to walk with the birds singing and the wind moving thru the new leaf buds.
again, not a terrible lot to report since it’s still early spring, but as ever i refuse to make this series about a particular nature-aesthetic and will continue making it about what i find when i go places, wherever whenever.
the jesuit retreat house sits on fahrney point in lake winnebago. had a silent retreat here for the first time last weekend. a real god-send. my nervous system recalibrated dramatically. a delight to listen to the northern flickers and cardinals, cranes every now and then. to simply walk the grounds and listen to the lake.
had my first dip in lake winnebago—crazy cold still and the mammal body recoiled but was invigorating. muskrats, mallards, a pileated woodpecker, turtles, jumping sturgeon, and a trio of white pelicans. trees budding and silence from lots of humans.
cross of black and white
blue clear and rippling
green and brown
splash in sheer delight
small green legs on log
mussel shells forming an island in the inlet…
great blue mass winging
gracing fahrney point
honk-plaint from field-geese—
wishing i could lune
roosting in the dark
ha—that’s me in the willow. photo (taken before i knew he was there) courtesy of a friend i met on retreat!
a short stop at a 3-acre stretch of former railroad right-of-way converted into a path. along both sides soil from a former prairie has remained relatively undisturbed due to property rights and fire from train-wheels. big-blue stem dominant.
a soothing walk, lots of birdsong and wind in the trees. as with the last, not too much to report given the early spring timing, but well worth the time anyhow.
wetland complex in a larger wildlife area in winnebago cty. i was on silent retreat nearby, and had a larger break, so i silently drove twenty minutes to visit a couple sna’s. 🙂
there are three different units to this sna, only one of which actually meets up with marshy rush lake. the whole area is an oasis for migrating water birds. i chose the unit most readily available, which is a glacial habitat rehabilitation site, according to a sign posted near the parking area. interesting to see what they end up doing with it. in the meantime, seemed like a wet prairie, grading into marsh perhaps, but i didn’t go far enough in to get real wet. just had a good time walking around the dried grass and feeling the open breeze.
two old oaks standing
in the wind
one reaches in jest
slow rustle of grass
and leaf buds
land stretching awake
someone or something
beneath bleached grass stalks
if you made it this far: across the southern boundary highway, presumably blasting took place to expose the sandstone bedrock below this area. lots of blocky texture!
a sna we’ve visited several times, and that i’ve written about on several occasions.
but we went back again easter monday on a lark and weren’t disappointed. a gorge in the sandstone along skillet creek, we visited with the creek for a bit—one child fell in again, no worries—snail shell near the bank, huge lichen and walls of fern on the cliff face, and the barred owl we saw last year perched in the same tree. an idyllic surprisingly warm late-afternoon.
a gorge cut into baraboo quartzite, cambrian sandstone, and conglomerate by the baraboo river. the scene here in the upper narrows is very interesting, with van hise rock (an outcropping that helped charles van hise of uw-madison geology fame articulate principles of structural deformation and metamorphism) popping up over the road along with old quarry scars and a public spring for drinking water.
a gorgeous, clear, unseasonably warm spring morning, me and the kiddos piled into the van and drove here from the dells where we were staying. we checked out the spring and van hise rock, then climbed a bluff to the southwest of the baraboo river.
couldn’t believe how game the kids were, going straight up the bluff, but the first really clear morning with sun and heat on the back and cardinals singing out over the valley—couldn’t resist. also, the first liverwort buds and trout lilies coming up. also took a moment down by the river to pay my respects. would like to get back here sometime.
around five acres of forested bluff and shoreline on lake michigan just north of the city of milwaukee. a steep fall down a ravine off lake drive goes to a trail that skirts the line where lake michigan eats away at the coastal bluff. good beach time with my youngest today.
goose lake drumlins sna is a couple parcels of land with six drumlins (oval-shaped hills formed by glaciers as till is shaped and scraped past by ice and water flow), two lakes, and wetland complex of marsh and bog in dane cty. the open water, wetland, and forest complexes (on the drumlins) make for rich mammal, fish, bird, and plant communities.
we were running low on time when we got here, and weren’t equipped to trek across large swaths of marsh, so we just enjoyed some time down by the cattails and viewed the drumlins from the dungeon (low area b/t drumlins) as we watched various birds of prey (including an eagle) fly about and dive. not a bad end to the day, tho i’d like to get back for a drumlin or two and to visit the bog south of goose lake.
first id of nannyberry (the bud below) thanks to the inaturalist community.
deansville fen is a calcareous fen in a larger marsh wetland complex in dane cty, wisconsin. sedge meadow and hummocky wet prairie surround. crossing a tributary stream was quick and painless on a massive old tree that had fallen across but the maunesha river itself was trickier—involving gathering three vines growing out of the riverbank with the foot in order to create a suspended step above the water while lunging out to other small trees growing in the water while balanced on a protruding log caught in an accidental dam in the river—one foot went way in on the way back out!
but a fine morning in the fen, quiet, some birds singing, not much new growth yet. turkey and rabbit tracks in the snow.