Our birdwatching trip to the Boreal Forests of northern Wisconsin was very exciting. We did not see any Boreal Chickadees, nor did we see any Black-Backed Woodpeckers, which we also looked for. However, we did see several Gray Jays, which in my opinion are beautiful.
They have no crest, but are covered in soft fluffy feathers that range in color over all shades of gray. It is a bird that knows how to work with what its got. Other highlights of the trip included three Porcupines, a Snowshoe Hare, Bobcat tracks, and two tagged Trumpeter Swans, which have recently been reintroduced into Wisconsin.
I had never appreciated how suddenly the Boreal Forests start as one heads north once you are north of Antigo WI. There are also a great number of bogs in northern Wisconsin as well.
A bog is a circular-shaped depression often surrounded by Black Spruce trees (thanks to my dad Rocky for the phone pic above). Mats of sphagnum moss grow at the water’s edge and slowly grow inward forming a tangled mat that one can walk on. We didn’t go out walking on the bog this time, but I have done it before, and it is fun how the mat moves up and down as you walk and as waves travel across the water under the mat. As you step near a small tree growing through the mat, the tree bends toward you as your weight deforms the mat.
On the evening of Saturday April 8th, we were thrilled to see the Northern Lights. There were sheets of light green veils hanging from the sky flickering in the silent sky. They were so beautiful.
After our boreal adventure, we drove back to my home town of Fond du Lac WI. On Tuesday night (April 11, 2006) my brother Joshua took us out into the country east of Fond du Lac to look for frogs and salamanders. It was unseasonably warm and humid…you could say froggy. We found several Blue-Spotted Salamanders by driving very slowly down the highway and watching for them crossing the road. [Insert your favorite ‘Cross the Road’ joke here]. We also stopped for a while to listen to the chorus of frogs. What amazed me was that once I stopped to listen—really listen—I could hear all the different kinds of frogs. I heard the peeping of the Spring Peepers, the clucking sounds of the Wood Frogs, and the comb-tooth-playing sounds of the Chorus Frogs. (Click on the links for frog calls) I didn’t hear the Gray Tree Frog that my father and brother picked out. In addition, we heard a Woodcock, a Common Snipe, a Barred Owl, and a Coyote. The moon was almost full and the sparse clouds were racing away on the sky above us while we were surrounded, not by silence, but by the active excited clamour of the nocturnal wildlife.