Thursday, October 16, 2008

Horicon Marsh

When we left St. Louis after Archon, we headed north to enjoy the fall foliage. On our way to Michigan, I saw Horicon Wildlife Refuge on the map near our route. We jogged over to explore. I've learned that National Wildlife Refuges are usually worth a stop. I was pleased with our visit to Horicon.

Horicon is a natural marsh created by the glaciers from the ice age as they carved their way along the bedrock. Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States. It has been listed as a Wetland of International Importance. Five miles wide and 13 miles long, it is an amazing place. It is a joint venture between the state of Wisconsin -the Wiconsin Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area and the US Fish and Wildlife Service - Horicon National WIldlife Refuge.

I started on the south end, the Wisconsin Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area. There is a 1 1/2 half mile hike that leads you through forested areas , right along the marsh, and near several bodies of open water. It was my first hike in a long time and it felt SO good. I saw a warbler,singing sweetly in the treed areas. I saw Canada geese and a sandhill crane fly over. A little later a flock of white pelicans kettled overhead. I love to watch as they fly in circles gaining height - their white wings flashing as they turn. White egrets are a threatened species in Wisconsin, but I got a good look at one in flight. I took my binoculars, but not my camera on this expedition - the weather was gray and I just wanted to enjoy the hike.

When I got back to the car, we drove up to the overlook - the marsh looked like a long grassy sea. I learned a new word at Horicon as well: drumlin. Drumlins are elongated hills created by glaciation. At Horicon, these hills look like islands of trees in the long marsh.

As we continued our journey north, we drove over to the Visitor Center at the National Wildlife Refuge. A very helpful volunteer showed me how to get to some great birding areas on roads I would have missed. She also told me about the floating board walk. We headed over there. I did the walk with my bird book and my binoculars.

This is Henry's photo of me as I was walkkng the floating boardwalk.

Horicon was known as a major nesting area for redhead ducks. I was hoping to see one, but I think they had already migrated south.

We spent about half a day here. What a delightful place! I would like to come back and spend more time exploring this area.

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