Wisconsin’s longest boardwalk will give you the chance to whiz past freshwater wetlands on a bike or up-close on a walk. The Lower Yahara River Trail also winds past Lake Waubesa, Native American Ho-Chunk Nation burial grounds, and a railway. Parts of the boardwalk are unanchored and “float” near the water’s surface, although you wouldn’t notice just cruising along on the path. At one mile long, the boardwalk is one of the longest elevated bike and pedestrian structures in the US. A happy muskrat was spotted taking a bath in the marsh next to the trail. I’m used to seeing groundhogs and beavers and not thinking much of it, but apparently there are 16 different kinds of muskrats so that’s pretty cool!
Sandhill cranes are predominantly wetland creatures but one particular pair of cranes find solace in the grassy fields behind my apartment complex where they can walk among the Queen Anne’s Lace. I don’t always find them there because they are migratory species and they do appear to have a really wide range, venturing from the grass field to my literal backyard to Lake Waubesa, and everywhere in between. They are versatile eaters and will eat plants, grains, invertebrates, and small mammals among other things. It’s great to see them in my neighborhood because their diminished population status in the 1950’s led to the creation of the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin in 1973.
The Sandhill crane call is a unique, hollow call that sounds just as old as their 2.5 million year-old species. Hearing it feels like a run-in with the raptors from Jurassic Park. It will give you chills.
These last few photos are of a quiet swamp off the shore of a different lake. The mosquitoes kept to themselves and the bright green scenery was dotted with occasional flowers and orange berries. I hope these photos inspire you to venture outside for a breath of fresh air this week! Cheers, Jess
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