Monthly Archives: October 2016

Autumn Art

Autumn at the Horicon Marsh

Autumn Art on the Marsh is an annual event held in Horicon, Wisconsin.  Vendors from throughout the area come to a park in Horicon and sell a wide variety of artistic creations.

Autumn at the Horcion Marsh

On my drive through the Marsh today, I saw more autumn art on the marsh.

Autumn at the Horicon Marsh

These are from the Artist’s Yellow Series.

Autumn at the Horicon Marsh

Sun Halo

Sun Halo at the Horicon Marsh

Glimpses of a rainbow ring around the sun were an amazing sight as I drove through the Marsh today.  The phenomenon lasted several hours.

Sun Halo at the Horicon Marsh

Thin and wispy cirrus clouds are the culprit.  These clouds are higher than 20,000 feet and are composed of ice crystals.  Light passes through the crystals and is refracted, like light through a prism.  When the light bends at an angle of 22 degrees it causes a sun halo, also aptly called a 22 degree halo.

Sun Halo Reflection at the Horcion Marsh

It was colorful in the clouds and colorful reflected on the water.

Swans A Swimming

Trumpeter Swans at the Horicon Marsh

I have seen the Trumpeter Swans swimming, but I haven’t seen them on their nest.  They have gotten so big not all of them fit in the nest at the same time even though their nest is quite impressive in size.  How many do you see?

Trumpeter Swans at the Horicon Marsh

Now how many do you see?  One of the parents headed out onto the water first.

Trumpeter Swans at the Horcion Marsh

The cygnets followed.  Apparently, one of the cygnets wanted some alone time.  He was taking a nap on the water near the nest.

Trumpeter Swans at the Horicon Marsh

There were quite a number of people who stopped on the north side of Highway 49 to watch the show with me.  There truly were seven swans a-swimming.  The songwriter for “The Twelve Days of Christmas” must have known that Trumpeter Swans typically have 4-6 cygnets.  Here there are two adults and five cygnets.

Trumpeter Swans on the Horicon Marsh

The scientific name for the Trumpeter Swan is Cygnus buccinator.  Cygnus is the Latin word for swan.  A cygnet is a little swan.  Buccinator is a muscle in our cheek.  We use it to play the trumpet.

Trumpeter Swans on the Horicon Marsh

Even swan siblings like to play in the water.

Trumpeter Swans on the Horicon Marsh

The cygnet’s bills are gradually turning black and their feathers are turning white.  I haven’t seen them fly yet.  Trumpeter Swans are North America’s heaviest flying birds.  Males can weigh over 30 pounds.

Trumpeter Swan at the Horicon Marsh

The lighting changed and a cloud drifted in front of the sun.  The rippling water turned gray.

Trumpeter Swan at the Horicon Marsh

The light changed again as the sun dipped lower in the sky and cast a golden glow in the evening.  Trumpeter Swans were once endangered with fewer than one hundred known to be living.  Their numbers have rebounded and we are blessed to be able to see them at the Horicon Marsh.

Fall Migration

Autumn at the Horicon Marsh

I took this photo on Highway Z on my drive to the Horicon Marsh.  Autumn is so beautiful in Wisconsin.

Trumpeter Swans at the Horicon Marsh

The Trumpeter Swans are growing and continuing to enjoy swimming in an area near the auto tour.

Autumn at the Horicon Marsh

Some of the trees are at their peak and putting on a spectacular show.

Green-winged Teal at the Horicon Marsh

This Green-winged Teal looks a bit rough due to molting.  The Green-winged Teal is the smallest dabbling duck in North America.

Green-winged Teal at the Horicon Marsh

They also enjoy Ballet.

Female Green-winged Teal at the Horicon Marsh

This is the pretty female Green-winged Teal.

Green-winged Teal and Canada Goose at the Horicon Marsh

I love the interaction between the Green-winged Teal and the Canada Goose.

Dowitchers at the Horicon Marsh

I believe these are Adult nonbreeding Dowitchers.  The tiger striping on their tales is an identifying feature.  It is amazing that standing on one foot is restful!

Female Northern Pintail at the Horicon Marsh

This female Northern Pintail enjoys chatting and swimming.

Lesser Yellowlegs at the Horicon Marsh

Swimming only briefly, the Lesser Yellowlegs took off shortly after I arrived.

Dunlin at the Horicon Marsh

Autumn is a great time to view birds that are migrating through the Horicon Marsh.  What do you think this one is?

Dunlin at the Horicon Marsh

Here is another view.  I would love to hear what you think in the comments section.

Comment:  Jerry asked a great question in the comments area.  What is a dabbling duck?  Dabblers feed on the surface of the water by opening their beaks to filter out tiny organisms.  They may also tip up, leaving their legs and tails in the air.  They don’t like to submerge their whole body.  These include Canada Geese, Trumpeter Swans, and Wood Ducks.  Divers, on the other hand, dive underwater to feed.  These include Pied-billed Grebes and Ruddy Ducks.

A Book and a Birthday

Sunset at the Horicon Marsh

Thanks to Lawrence Colby for featuring the above photo of the Horicon Marsh on his website  You will find the photo in his blog post today titled “World, Meet Captain Ford Stevens.” Colby’s exciting first book The DevilDragon Pilot will be released at on December 10.  If you are looking for a page turner, this is the book for you.  The photo was taken on Palmatory Street in Horicon.

Today is also the birthday of the Best Brother in the Whole World.  We took the class Creating WordPress Websites together.  You can read about woodworking projects you can do yourself and inspirational thoughts about entrepreneurship on his blog at

Shades of Autumn

Sumac at the Horicon Marsh

It is a calm, gray, fall day, perfect for a drive on the auto tour.  Sumac is turning red, orange, and yellow.

Sumac at the Horicon Marsh

The velvety, reddish brown fruit is rich in Vitamin A.  Apparently, birds aren’t all that excited about eating it, but they will resort to it if other food is scarce.

Trumpeter Swans with Cygnets at the Horicon Marsh

Trumpeter Swans and their growing cygnets enjoy a leisurely swim.

Trumpeter Swans at the Horicon Marsh

A little boy was walking with his mother along the road as I was standing taking pictures.  He exclaimed, “Mom, she is taking pictures of that white bird!”  He was so excited and so was I.

Cattails at the Horicon Marsh

The prolific cattails are going to seed.  Cattails are actually an herb.  Each spike can contain 220,000 seeds!

Milkweed at the Horicon Marsh

Milkweed is also an herb.  The plant contains cardiac glycosides, similar to Foxglove, that are used to treat some heart diseases.  These glycosides are absorbed by Monarch butterfly larvae.  Milkweed is the only thing the larvae eat.  The glycosides make the larvae and adult butterflies toxic to birds and other predators.

Canada Geese at the Horicon Marsh

Canada Geese take a break before migrating south.

Great Blue Heron at the Horicon Marsh

This Great Blue Heron stands in the water near the road.

Red-tailed Hawk at the Horicon Marsh

I love the coloring of the Red-tailed hawk.  His eyes looks so dark and almost hollow. Red-tailed Hawks have keen vision.  They can see their prey, like a mouse, a mile away.


Some of the information today was found in the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers:  Eastern Region.

Manual Mode

Hornet's Nest at the Horicon Marsh

Hornet’s Nest

It is amazing to me that this papery swirl of a home is made from wood pulp and hornet spit.  How do hornets incorporate the leaves into it?  How many trips does it take to go from a tree to get a bit of wood, chew it while mixing it with saliva, and fly back to transform it into a nest?  I don’t know the answers to these questions but it is a work of art to be admired from afar.

Trumpeter Swan with Duck Friends at the Horicon Marsh

Trumpeter Swan with Ducks
f8, 1/1000 sec., ISO 200

I worked entirely in manual mode with my camera today.  I purposely sought out white birds in the sun in hopes of conquering the overexposure problem.  I set the ISO at 200.  All of the shots I am sharing today are taken at 600 mm.  I set the aperture at various openings.  Shutter speed was adjusted until the arrow on the exposure level scale in the viewfinder was at zero.  After taking a shot, I pressed the “info” button on the back of the camera and looked at the histogram.  I tried to keep the color that was farthest to the right on the graph just to the left of the right margin of the histogram. I adjusted the shutter speed as needed to achieve this.  I was much happier with the results of the shots of white birds that I took today compared to shots taken previously.  There is more light and shadow and more detail is preserved in the feathers.

Trumpeter Swan with Duck

Trumpeter Swan with Duck
f8, 1/500 sec., ISO 200

Tweaking needed to be done depending on how much of the white bird filled the frame and whether there were dark birds nearby.  As long as the photo data stayed just to the left of the right margin (for JPEG), detail was preserved and I could adjust shadows in Photoshop Elements during post processing.  If data climbed up the right margin of the histogram, detail was lost.  It could not be recovered in post processing.  I’m guessing the swans were loosening aquatic plants and the ducks were benefiting from the swan’s efforts.

Great Egret at the Horicon Marsh

Great Egret
f8, 1/1000 sec., ISO 200

Manual mode isn’t quite so intimidating now.  I’m excited to continue to play with and to learn how to improve my exposures even more.

Great Egret at the Horicon Marsh

Great Egret
f13, 1/400 sec., ISO 200