Monday, May 17, 2010

Alone in the woods

Perfect spring weather is here in southern Wisconsin this week. We spent Sunday afternoon tromping around in the woods in the Baraboo Hills, some low hills that are remnants of an ancient mountain range. We visited Baxter's Hollow Preserve, a preserve of over 5,000 acres (over 2,000 hectares) protected by Nature Conservancy.
Baxter's Hollow is a popular place with birders, but but we didn't arrive until after lunch. We all know that birders should get out there early, preferably at the crack of dawn. Dawn doesn't happen to be my favorite time to go anywhere and an experienced birder told me once that warblers don't even become fully active before 9 a.m. So there. Our birding companions Al and Barb have jobs that keep them up past midnight so they are excellent birding buddies for us lazy bones. I'm sure there were lots of birders there early in the day, but we had the entire preserve virtually to ourselves. We saw a few cars but no one else walking. I like seeing other people out communing with nature, but there is something magical about being alone in the woods.
  The paved road into the preserve parallels Otter Creek. It's a dead end road and great for birding in any foot gear. It would be an excellent place to take someone with limited mobility or in a wheelchair. There's almost no traffic and excellent birds and wildflowers to be seen. The sound track is the burbling of the creek and no man-made sounds. It's my idea of heaven. By the way, for other ideas of birding in southern Wisconsin for those with limited mobility, check out this article.
We saw Blackburnian warblers, Yellow-throated vireos, lots of American Redstarts, Blue-gray gnatcatchers, Rose-breasted grosbeaks, and a Veery, just to name some highlights.
After we had birded the road a while we had the elegant little snack with tea that Al and Barb brought along.
 Then we went hiking on the trail the Conservancy accurately describes as "very primitive." Al and Barb had wisely suggested wearing rubber boots which made it fun to walk along the path even where it was underwater or very muddy. It reminded me of how much fun I had as a kid going through puddles in my boots.
 More than 40 species of birds nest in the preserve, so even a visit after spring migration is over is worthwhile. The peace and quiet are there all year round.


Jane said...

How blissful - beautiful place and beautiful photos.

Trudy said...

Viewing pictures of this Shangra La from Oakland California where we are to witness our son graduating from seminary.

I love Baxter's Hollow in June when the Veeries are singing and where sometimes a Mourning Warbler is singing from a tree top.

Oakland California is cool - 60 degrees today with spitting rain. Not the sunny visit I was anticipating!