Monday, September 14, 2009

Saturday Adventures in Wausau

Saturday dawned clear and after making our own waffles at the motel's breakfast bar, Lynne and I were ready to hit the parks around Wausau for some birding adventures. Earlier last week I visited the Travel Wisconson website and printed out some birding information for the Wausau area. It's nice that they have put all that information on-line; it's a great resource for anyone traveling to Wisconsin!

Our first stop was Bluegill Bay, a really nice park right close to town. There were nice walking trails through mixed deciduous and evergreen woods. We saw lots of Cedar Waxwings, a couple of Eastern Phoebes, and some vireos that we weren't able to positively ID (but we were leaning towards Yellow Throated). I heard these Red Breasted Nuthatches long before I saw one. This is the first of these I've seen so far this year. I hope they show up at my feeders again this winter because I think they're such charming little birds!

As the name implied, there was a bay with bluegills in the park. We did see a few of the fish, but were much more excited by the herons we saw. There were several Green Herons present and they weren't at all shy.

There were also Great Blue Herons everywhere we looked! I was thrilled to see this one on the walking path (scratching its chin!)

I tried sneaking up on it, but this bird wasn't nearly as tolerant as the green herons, and took off the other direction when I got within about 30 yards.

Of course, the usual flock of mallards was hanging around, but I did remark to Lynne that it seemed strange we didn't see any Giant Canada Geese here (or anywhere else for that matter!)

And the action wasn't all in the trees or water. I spotted this little leopard frog while I was checking out some flowers at the edge of the river bank. Isn't their camouflage great? I would never have seen this little guy except that he hopped out of my way as I walked across the grass.

Most of the grass was mowed away from the paths, but at the edge of some evergreens, we found this blooming Orange Hawkweed bravely trying to establish itself. You can see how close it came to getting dug out too!

Right next to the parking lot I found these cute little pink flowers, but I can't remember for sure what they are. I've narrowed it down to 2 possibilities: something in the purslane family or one of the wild pinks. If anyone has a positive ID, be sure to leave a comment. Thanks!

Our next stop was Rib Mountain State Park, one of the highest elevations in Wisconsin. From this lookout point, we had a good view of the City of Wausau and we were even able to pick out the Super 8 we were staying at.

At the top of Rib Mountain, I had the chance to climb the 60-foot observation tower (and no, I wasn't able to get to the top without stopping to catch my breath!)

Check out these views! I thought the outside railing was a tad too low, so I stayed close to the interior of the top platform for these shots.

Lynne chose to enjoy the view from the ground and we played "camera duel" as I made my way back down. Hi Lynne!!

For any of you who have been lucky enough to meet Lynne in person, you know how friendly she is. And it's not just humans who are charmed by her.......
Lynne & Max

The granite boulder formations in this park were amazing!

I was fascinated with all the plants and ferns that were able to establish themselves and grow in the cracks of these rocks. (This picture has become the newest desktop wallpaper on my home computer!)

And even though it was close to 80 degrees in the middle of September, signs of fall were everywhere we looked.

Thanks for sharing our Saturday adventures in Wausau, Wisconsin. My next post will feature our visit to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum and the "Birds In Art" exhibit, where we got to spend a bit of time with Julie Zickefoose and hear her speak in person!


Gaelyn said...

Ruthie, this place is great! You and Lynne are obviously having a fun time. The towers are kind of spooky but the views are great. And I love how the plants grow out of the cracks in rocks. Nice post and captures. I'm looking forward to more of this adventure.

Jayne said...

What a fun, fun time you all had Ruthie! And, what a view from that tower too. :c)

Mama Pea said...

There are so many beee-yew-tiful places out in Nature if we but know where to go to look for them.

Thanks for the guided tour!

Stephen said...

All that comes to mind when I read of your adventures and see the photographs is: WOW! and Awesome!
Thank you for sharing them with us, and inspiring us to have adventures too.

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Gaelyn. We thought it was great too. And both parks were pretty much in the heart of the city. I wonder if the residents of Wausau realize what treasures are readily available to them?

Oh Jayne, it was really a wonderful weekend. We talked and laughed so much and never ran out of things to say--even after 2 and a half days!

You got that right Mama Pea! I could probably spend the next 10 years just exploring Minnesota and Wisconsin, plus no passport needed!

Thanks for your kind words Stephen.
Rental car = $81, motel room for 3 nights = $76, an entire weekend birding and knitting with my best blogging friend = PRICELESS!

NCmountainwoman said...

Great photographs. I do enjoy hearing about your fun time with Lynne. Sounds like such a good weekend.

Anonymous said...

We loved living in Wausau! Had I know you were going I'd have asked you to go by and check on our old house and give some old friends a hug for me. (There were some real birds in that group.) :)

Mary said...

You're more brave than I to climb that tower. I would have kept Lynne company on the ground.


eileeninmd said...

I enjoyed your reading post and photos. the RedBreasted Nuthatch is one of my favorite birds. I am hoping to one or two back at my feeders this winter.

Heidi said...

Those are some tough ferns! And I'm stunned at the beautiful fall colors. Ours are a couple months away I think.

I too wonder where the Canada Geese are. They're usually everywhere!

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Carolyn, glad you enjoyed it (and you didn't have to deal with those pesty mosquitoes like we did!)

Hi Mary Lee,
We liked Wausau too. It reminded us of other river towns we know (Lynne of Stillwater and me of LaCrosse). Plus the birding in that area was fantastic! I bet spring migration there would be amazing.

Hi Mare,
That tower was REALLY high once you got to the top! I think the outer railing should have been higher and more reinforced--it was a little scary!

Hi Eileen,
Thanks for stopping by my blog. I started hearing and seeing red-breasted nuthatches here in SE Minnesota just this past weekend. A couple years ago we had a good number of them here for the winter and I hope some stick around again this year. They're sure adorable!

Hi Heidi,
There was quite a bit more fall color in Wisconsin than back in Minnesota. I would guess they're at least a week or two ahead of us.
I wonder if their Canada geese hadn't already left for more southerly locations??