Friday, May 26, 2017

Muddy Waters

Trempealeau Bay
Recent rains are rising the Mississippi and Trempealeau Rivers. Although the campground at Perrot State Park is high and dry for all the campers this Memorial Weekend it's putting a damper on a few activities.





Riverview Trail












Renting canoes and kayaks has been suspended for awhile until the water levels recede. Even the Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge access roads are closed.





A walk along the Riverview Trail was a little wet as you can see. It limited my walk but made for some unique photos.








Muskrat Family



I spotted some homeless Muskrats hanging out on a tree. The waters must have washed away their nesting lodge.


Looks like mom and her pups are a little blue about being displace.






If you need some cheering up this weekend there are lots of activities going on at the Nature Center. Follow the Friends of Perrot on their facebook page for details and upcoming events.


 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sandhill Cranes

Pair of Sandhill Cranes at the boat landing
One of the tallest birds around Perrot State Park, the Sandhill Crane makes it's appearance in early spring. A welcome loud rattling Kar-r-r-o-o-o announces their arrival returning to nest in the Trempealeau Bay.






Cranes feeding on vegetation, insects, etc.











Paddling the Voyageurs canoe trail you may catch a glimpse of the fluffy orange off-spring in the next month as they hatch.



Out for a walk on the River Trail










Young Sandhill will stay with their parents for up to 10 months accompanying them on their migratory path to the southern US.



Monday, May 22, 2017

A few of my favorite things!

 Camping can be truly magical!









One of my favorite things about parks are the nature programs. The very welcoming staff and visitor center at Whitewater State Park made for an educational and enjoyable respite from the rain.

Fox Snake


 
 
 




We sat in on a lively presentation on snakes. The energy in the room was elevated by the boyscout troop camping in the park. Thank goodness for a calm naturalist and even calmer snake.


Bird Feeding Viewing Area




They have an awesome viewing area of birds at their feeders. So I had to try may hand at capturing some of the poses. Shooting through glass and rain.
Red Bellied Woodpecker

Red Breasted Grosbeak





Baltimore Oriole














Downy Woodpecker








Dove





























Bird Banding













Another program at the park featured bird banding. It was easy pickings for the licensed banders. I played secretary learning how to decode the band sizes, listing observations, noting brood patches and logging in band numbers.



Indigo Bunting










We also made time to shop at the Nature Store. After careful consideration I purchased this miniature hummingbird feeder. I don't know how well it will work, maybe I'll just convert it into a magnet for my collection.

Mini Hummingbird Feeder

 






Rain, Rain Go Away

Our visit to Whitewater State Park, remotely set among woods and farmland, began with wondering what else there would be to do in the area since rain was in the forecast. At first it didn't seem promising since the area grocery stores were still renting videos. Did we turn back time?

It wasn't going to be a sunny weekend, so how did we spend our rainy days. I'll share.


A trip to Whitewater Winery, always a good place to start the day. One dollar wine samples and a snack of smoked salmon gave us hope. The owners love of wine was evident with a variety of Midwestern grapes.










Mayo Grand Entry
Then a short drive to Rochester, to take a subterranean walking tour of Mayo and the city of Rochester. We found it to be very quiet and lacking in activity as we started to enjoy the Chihuly glass hangings and grand hall. We were quickly escorted out as I guess it was closed on Saturday to the public. Acting like you know where you are going only gets you so far. I think pulling out my camera gave us away as tourists.


Chihuly Decor














Pucking Around





Sheilding ourselves from the downpours we thought we'd get a little action like the locals. Nothing like a hockey game to lift your spirits. It's no secret that we also made a trip to Traders Joe's for some three buck chuck.

Dis-Ableing









To end the day of dismal weather we seated ourselves down for a meal at the Elba House. Just a couple of miles up the road from the park and just below the fire lookout tower.

Walleye BLT and Whitewater Rueben





Fire Tower Elba, MN















We salvaged the day!










Whitewater Camping

 
Bridge in meadows
No, this is not a new extreme sport. We've expanded our state park visits to Minnesota. First up Whitewater State Park about half way between La Crosse and Rochester. Set in a valley surrounded by Driftless Bluffs, and a river really runs through it.




Whitewater River












The Whitewater River a long winding trout stream that has no bounds. Fed by springs and water shed from the hills it snakes between campgrounds and hiking trails.





Two leafed Miterwort






After recent heavy rains it was showing it true nature, shoving anything that gets in its way and cutting away banks and deposits from past floods.

Some may remember the torrential downpours in 2007, when over 10 inches fell in the area.. Nearly all the bridges in Whitewater State Park have been replaced and a new campground is currently under development.




Woodland Phlox










Nodding Trillium











We hiked trails through the meadow, along the trout stream and up the bluffs. Spring's flowers were everywhere. Here's a few that I usually don't come across.




 
Allegheny Monkey Flower





Columbine













We traveled to another area in search of Bluebells at Carley State Park. Unfortunately were past bloom. They even have a festival in early May to commemorate the event. I guess will put this on the to do list for next year.


Friday, May 12, 2017

A New Kid in Town

Living in a shaded woodland it's sometimes hard to find a new plant for the garden, especially a native one.

Good news there's a new kid in town, Driftless Area Natives sells native plants in Trempealeau, Wisconsin.







Joyce is by no means new to growing plants, many of you may remember her from the La Crosse County Extension Office. Her set up offers lots of prairie and woodland perennials specifically for our area and beneficial for local pollinators.





So what did I acquire and for those of you that know me where would I even put it?

Well the wishing well is now gone and will be replaced by a grotto/woodland whatever. Still to be determined I guess.





My new plant acquisitions are:





Pennsylvania Sedge


Carex pensylvanica -Pennsylvania Sedge for my part to full shade. Growing about 6 inches. As you can see from the photo it's a bright green and soft textured grass like that will spread. I just want to run my fingers throught it.












As an accent plant I'm trying:

Aster macrophyllus- Big-leaf Aster that will have a light purple flower in August. I like the contrast of big bold leaves and the soft grass combination.


You can follow her on facebook-

Driftless Area Natives-Plants for People and Nature in Trempealeau, Wisconsin

She does some great reviews on little known natives too!

You can find her at the Cameron Park Farmers Market in La Crosse today at 4pm.

Plus she's having an open house this Saturday, May 13 in Trempealeau
 N13375 Grana Lane. She's also open by appointment call 608-534-5101.










Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Don't Turn Your Back

I moved to the Coulee Region over 40 years ago. It was truly a rare sight to see a Bald Eagle during those early years. Since the banning of pesticides and hunting the Bald Eagle is flourishing under the protection our nation has provided.

These days we are experience an age of undoing. Please support your favorite organizations that will assist in conserving our natural resources and quality of life for all.

May the Forest Be With You!

 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Happy May Day

Summer sun and fun are just around the corner.

Thought I'd share my recent cake made for a friends church event to celebrate August Birthdays. Monarchs and Sunflowers were made from Candie Melts. A laborious process which turned out well enough. However they are very fragile just like real butterfly wings. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Perrot Praises

Vultures greeting the morning sun
Just wanted to share the beautiful weekend we had at Perrot State Park. Early April temperatures were in the 70's making it a perfect time to get HaRVey out for his first time in 2017. Since it was early in the season not many sites were open but we still happened to find the perfect one for our needs. This time of year we saw plenty of wildlife and guess what no bugs!


Walking on the Riverview Trail
Site 22
Sunset over Trempealeau Bay

Turkey trot at the Refuge
Shy Sandhill Crane

Refuge Backwaters

Refuge Backwaters
Eagles at Refuge
A side trip to the Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge is always a must when in the area.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring into Action

It's an exciting time of the year when plants begin to appear, birds return, and everything starts waking up.

If you like to be outdoors and enjoy nature, you may want to consider joining a Citizen-Based Monitoring Program.

Check it out at www.wiatri.net , it's a Wisconsin Citizen-Based Monitoring Network. You can see what other groups like Audubon Societies, Prairie Enthusiast or Friends groups are doing. Regardless of your skill level, often free training is available.

Whether your interests include birds, bugs or beautiful flowers there's a need for volunteers to help gather data. I just got involved with Rare Plant Monitoring. Sorry that's all I can tell you about it, because I'm sworn to secrecy.    

Sunday, March 12, 2017

March Madness

 This is the time of year you are either glued to the TV watching basketball or trying to find something to do.

Pretty much, in the upper Midwest, it comes down to home improvement shows and RV open houses.

We were not inspired by the ideas for sprucing up the house since our domain pretty well satisfies our needs and who knows how much longer we'll be around for Wisconsin winters.




This little vintage trailer is so cute.



So we were off to check out the local RV dealerships as they all had open houses.

The coordinated refrigerator and d├ęcor is charming.
What this means is free cookies and snacks, registering for prizes and then looking at all the newest stuff in Recreational Vehicles.






Lots of people were out and about, sharing that dream of hitting the road to adventure. We toured trailers and 5th wheels. Dismissing this feature and pointing out design flaws that a novice might not notice. As seasoned veterans of weekend camping we know what we like and more importantly what won't work for us.



By George, I think we got it right the first time. From layouts and lavatories HaRVey is still out first love. We happily spent some dough on a new rug for the entryway. Just a little something for his 3rd birthday. Are we mad or what.