Monthly Archives: February 2017

Early Spring Migration

Canada Geese at the Horicon Marsh

Are you listening to me?

“One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, clearing the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.” 

–Aldo Leopold

Canada Geese at the Horicon Marsh

Pay attention to me!

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.

Canada Geese at the Horicon Marsh


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.

Canada Geese at the Horicon Marsh

Sunset at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center

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.

Getting Ready for Spring

Controlled Burning at the Horicon Marsh

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.

 A Cloud Forms on the Smoke

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.

Clouds on the Smoke at the Horicon Marsh

Clouds on Smoke


The Horicon Marsh is getting ready for spring!

Snow or Slush

Cattails at the Horicon Marsh

“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.

Seeing Red

Red Twig Dogwood at the Horicon Marsh

Red Twig Dogwood

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.

Red Twig Dogwood

We can look forward to clusters of white flowers on the Dogwood in late spring.

The Moon at the Horicon Marsh

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.

Red-tailed Hawk at the Horicon Marsh

Red-tailed Hawk

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.