“One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, clearing the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.”
Canada geese are returning to the Horicon Marsh in droves. They are one of the first species of birds to migrate here in the spring and start nesting. Hopefully, our unseasonably mild 50 degree temperatures and the arrival of the Canada geese is signaling an early spring.
Notice that the goose on the right has a band on its leg. It may have been in the southern United States or northern Mexico for the winter. Canada geese mate for life, but the one on the left may have other ideas.
Many people strolled the trails at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center this evening. We were treated to a stunning sunset and the welcome sound of honking from the Canada Geese.
Have you seen the black plumes of smoke wafting across the Horicon Marsh? Controlled burning is taking place before nesting season. Prescribed burning removes the dead cattails so birds migrating through the marsh in the spring have more opportunities for feeding and nesting. Muskrats also enjoy more room to roam.
The plumes of smoke produced an interesting phenomenon. The higher the warm air from the fire rose, the more it cooled until it reached a point where it condensed and formed a cloud at the top of the smoke plume. The small size of the droplets in the cloud caused it to be brightest at the top.
The Horicon Marsh is getting ready for spring!
“Winter is the king of showmen
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes
Smooth and clean and frosty white
The world looks good enough to bite
That’s the season to be young
Catching snowflakes on your tongue
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going”
–from Winter Morning Poem
By Ogden Nash
The Horicon Marsh should be entering into the slushy stage in the coming week as temperatures head toward 50 degrees. Today, the marsh remains frozen and quiet. It is a peaceful place to come for a drive or a hike. The solitude of winter contrasts with the abundant and busy wildlife in the spring. The Horicon Marsh is a pleasant and satisfying place to visit in any season.
Swaths of Red Twig Dogwood brighten an otherwise brown winter landscape along Dike Road. The gravel part of the road that crosses the Horicon Marsh is not yet open for us to drive through.
We can look forward to clusters of white flowers on the Dogwood in late spring.
Have you heard of the rule of f/11 when shooting the moon? I have heard that a good starting point is to use ISO 100, an f/11 aperture, and a shutter speed of 1/200 when taking pictures of the moon. Tweak from there. The above shot was taken at ISO 100, f/6.3, and a shutter speed of 1/1000. It was taken at 3:30 in the afternoon. I was happy with the detail in this photo, since most of my shots of the moon are featureless white blobs. If you have tips for shooting the moon, please let us know in the comments area.
This Red-tailed Hawk was keeping watch high in a tree along Highway Z. We had sunshine today at the Horicon Marsh after a number of gray days in a row. Whether sunny, gray, or we’re seeing red, it is always a great day to visit the Horicon Marsh.