Eagle vs. Osprey

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to write about the happenings around Devil’s Lake. Summer is always a busy time around here with all of our programs and events. This time of year, things slow down and there’s more time to get out and explore. Last night we did just that; explored around the lake.

Evening south shore

Evening along the south shore. Photo by Sue Johansen, Park Naturalist

We started down the Tumbled Rocks trail and was greeted by lots of red squirrels. These little guys were busy feeding on all of the recently ripe pine cones that are scattered all over the trail. Continue reading

A Field of Garlic Mustard

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A foggy look south from atop the West Bluff. Photo by Sue Johansen, Park Naturalist.

 I love foggy days at the lake. We were up on the west bluff last weekend, before the 3 inches of snow came, to enjoy the signs of spring that were starting to crop up. One sign was the ice off the lake (a week earlier than last year). It seemed to happen over night – Friday night the ice was there and by Saturday morning it was gone! We saw other signs of spring up on the bluff. We saw hepatica starting to bloom. Dutchman’s breeches had green leaves and a few had flower stalks. There was green starting to come in here and there and a lot of the green was coming from garlic mustard. Continue reading

Frog Song

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Devil’s Lake on April 9. The ice is slowly starting to leave the north shore. Photo by Sue Johansen, Park Naturalist

I was out and about this week checking to see if the ice was starting to melt on the lake. Spring has been slow to arrive in our area and a sheet of ice still lingers here on Devil’s Lake. I stopped at Messenger Creek, on the southwest end of the lake, where the water was starting to open and as I got out of my car I heard a beautiful chorus of spring peepers singing in the vegetation alongside the road. You can take a listen by clicking here.

 

 You can hear the loud, “PEEP” sound the males make amongst the chorus of red-wing blackbirds. You’ll hear a few Western Chorus frogs too. They sound like a finger being run over the teeth of a comb.

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Is it Spring Yet?

I am sitting up at the Nature Center, looking out the window and even though the calendar says it’s spring, it’s not feeling too spring like at the moment. The wind is howling and there’s a fine mist of rain coming down. Well, at least it’s rain and not snow, but still it’s not helping feel very spring like. What is making it feel like spring are the birds that have started to migrate back this part of the world.

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Turkey vulture in the pines by the Nature Center. Photo by Sue Johansen, Park Naturalist.

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Rookery of Herons

We are all anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring and one of the signs are the arrival of the Great Blue Herons. These large birds return year after year to their nest site in the pines at the Group camp.

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Great Blue Heron. Photo by Kurt Eakle

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Picture “Perfect”

Out we went last night to enjoy the “warm” temperatures that March has brought this area of Wisconsin. Warm being a relative term as it was above zero, but the wind whipping through the bluff was quite numbing. It got better the higher on the bluff we went, plus the trees and rocks offered some protected us as well. Up we went, hoping to catch the sun setting over the west bluff and just to get out to enjoy the lack of “bitter cold” that has been pretty much the story this winter.

Sleeping Elephant (Elephant Rock). Photo by Sue Johansen, Park Naturalist

Sleeping Elephant (Elephant Rock). Photo by Sue Johansen, Park Naturalist

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Full Moon Bonfire

There’s something about being in the park on a winter’s night that is a bit magical. It’s different than being here at night in the summer. In the summer, there is always movement; always sound. But, in winter, there is a silence and beauty that makes this special place even more spectacular.

 

The torch-lit trail along the north shore. Photo by Skillet Creek Media

The torch-lit trail along the north shore. Photo by Skillet Creek Media

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The Great Backyard Bird Count

I am a “bird nerd” – I’ve been one since I took an ornithology class in college. I can even remember the exact moment when I got hooked. Another student from the class and I were trying to learn our birds and bird calls for the class in an area called Picnic Point. The sun was starting to set, making the sky a lovely fire red color, when an oriole flew across that sky. It was like the bird had become an orange ember across the fire red of the setting sun. That was it, I’ve been in love with birds ever since!

Male downy woodpecker Photo by Sue Johansen, Park Naturalist

Male downy woodpecker Photo by Sue Johansen, Park Naturalist

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“Backyard” Adventures

The cold air seeped through my fingers as I sat clicking the shutter on my camera. The snowy owl we were after just sat quietly atop the large grain silo. The owl was unaffected by the artic-like air that made my fingers cold and stiff and stung my face. But, even though it was a frigid day to be out, it was well worth the adventure!

Snowy Owl sitting on a silo. Photo by Sue Johansen, Naturalist

Snowy Owl sitting on a silo. Photo by Sue Johansen, Naturalist

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Wonderful “Wild” Winter Afternoon

This past Saturday the Park and the Friends group held their first “Wild” Winter Afternoon and Learn to Ice Fish event. What a fun winter afternoon it was! The soft, falling snow and decent winter temperatures made for a wonder winter afternoon to be outside on the lake.

Participants ice fishing and snowshoeing on the lake. Photo by Skillet Creek Media.

Participants ice fishing and snowshoeing on the lake. Photo by Skillet Creek Media.

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