Over Spring Break I spent a few days exploring Wisconsin’s peninsula that extends out into Lake Michigan, also known as Door County. It is a beautiful place, with an even mix of nature, farming and tourist attractions (the latter two, being less important to me). Near the tip of the peninsula, there is a state park called Newport and that is where I took some time to observe and record phenology.
Door County’s weather has been odd, like Burlington’s, this winter. There was a recent thaw but the cold had returned there. Ice coated a thing layer on the lake, the sun and wind causing it to break up a bit. Most of the snow had melted at that point, but there were still many patches of it here and there.
The tracks above and below were made by the same creature. The gait is that of a bounder, it has five toes per foot and claws. This leads me to believe (with a bit of research to make sure they live in the area) that these tracks were left by a mink.
These tracks below were made by a domestic dog. We saw them all along the beach, following closely to human bootprints.
I believe these next tracks were created by a crow, but I am somewhat unsure.
This last track comes from a deer.
The geese have already begun migrating north and I saw many flying above Lake Michigan, as well as a few ducks. I did not see them, but I heard the chatter of birds and squirrels in the forest when I stopped to listen.
Even away from the shoreline, the soil was incredibly sandy. With this, and the fact that high winds come off the lake, many trees have been pulled up by the roots and began the process of creating mounds and ditches. It was easy to tell that the forest was young and new growth. When I mentioned this fact to my dad, he informed me that it was, in fact, logged within the past century. The majority of trees were conifers, like cedars, and there were also many beech trees. The forest floor was practically coated in beech leaves. Along the lake there were many shrubs like dogwood, it branches giving a bright red burst of color to the landscape.
As I walked through the woods, I saw a beautiful evergreen out of the corner of my eye, causing me to actually stop in order to take it in. As I looked on, a great form swooped silently toward the tree, breaking at the last moment and landing, with a distinct click of talons on bark, on the very tree I was staring at. It was a magical moment, one I will never forget. Upon looking closer, I noticed an enormous nest resting in the branches of the conifer, too small for a hawk, so I am guessing it was an eagle’s.
Newport State Park is quite different from Sparky and I think this had mainly to do with its sandy soil and drier climate. I get the feeling that it does not flood often, even though it is right by a large body of water. Nonetheless, both are equally beautiful in their own ways.