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.
kratzsch preserve is a 72-acre wood and wetland lot of former farmland rehabilitated by the ozaukee and washington county land trust. they’re doing good work here people. prairie, marsh, hardwood forest, frontage on the milwaukee river, glacial topography; little bit of everything.
this was a great hike, up and down, good steady wind on the prairie but some shelter in the woods and down by the river. snow drifts gave us a workout. sat with the robins and redwing blackbirds by the river for a spell. four lunes and views for you.
pavcek preserve is a small hardwood forest in the kettle moraine near holy hill. a small esker in the upland area, kettles and manmade ponds in the lowlands. we were expecting a springish walk w/ just-emerging spring ephemerals to check out, but then snow happened over the weekend, so back to the snowcovered woods and ice. beautiful and bracing.
a tufted titmouse gave us quite a concert near the largest pond, flitting in and out of trees and a large hollow branch of an oak.
point beach ridges is, according to the wdnr website, a series of 11 swales and ridges parallel to the current lake michigan shoreline in manitowoc cty. the ridges and swales are former beaches of the last eight millennia that used to border glacial lake nipissing. open blowing sand near the lake to juniper/bearberry dunes to swampy swales to fully forested ridges give this site a tremendously varying quality. super fun to hike, and we had a gorgeous late-autumn day for it.
last visit to walk all of manitowoc cty’s snas.
first id’s of bearberry, bunchberry, birch polypore, and dune goldenrod! first non-bog id of sphagnum moss. (thanks to twitter folks for help with recent ids)
nipissing swamp is, according to the wdnr website, the largest remnant hardwood swamp in northeastern wisconsin. fascinatingly, the swamp is in a wetland basin that was formerly a lagoon of glacial lake nipissing (which name refers to an indigenous nation in canada). the beach can still be seen in remnant dunes and barrens.
it was gun deer hunting season last weekend, and our blaze orange was in the other vehicle, so we didn’t go in deep. but even getting off the road a bit was a delight. across the first swampy swale and onto the first ridge, balancing on downed logs across the mud. the club moss was out in droves and soaking up the late-autumn sun. gorgeous swamp weather with birch and cedar swaying above.
a shallow seepage lake according to the dnr’s website, grassy lake is situated low with wetlands around it. a road cuts thru the area and allows access without a boat, water on either side. many aquatic and wetland plants make the area home, as well as many water-associated birds—we saw an abandoned bald eagle’s nest across the road first thing.
this was a short stint, letting the kids take turns with the rubber boots to poke around in the wetland area by the lake proper. fun stop with a picnic before pressing on to lodi for the corn maze.
this sna is a wet-mesic forest and wetland complex in a larger wildlife area, dominated by white cedar and surrounded by farmland. the wetland areas have indicator species for calcium-rich water.
it’s the end of summer, so plant growth is at its peak. this, combined with the navigability of the saturated soils, the lack of paths, and the disturbing sound of what we can only assume was a hog-slaughtering occurring on a farm in an adjacent valley, precluded us from getting deep into the forest. but on a stretch of road away from that valley i was able to get in a bit and nose around, to the less bone-chilling sound of sandhill cranes in the fields across the street.
a less immersive and interactive stop than those later in the day.
spruce lake bog is classic bog territory. a (relatively) undisturbed bog lake in a kettle, very diverse flora more characteristic of northern sphagnum bogs, according to the wdnr’s description.
i was grateful for the boardwalk that allowed for a walk all the way thru the bog to the lake thru the sphagnum and the bog forest of tamaracks and black spruces and some hardwoods. a light rain was falling and just warm enough not to bundle up.
highlight for sure was the pitcher plants thick on the ground (first id). amazing.