Nature Festival – Forest and Creek

Our third and final day of the 10th annual Chequamegon Bay Birding and Nature Festival was bittersweet. There was still so much we could potentially see on the trails, but we were getting worn out from all the walking. And the mosquitoes – they got pretty bad, too.

North Country Trail

The hilly hike along the North Country National Scenic Trail was very tiring, especially in the heat. Still, plenty to see in the expansive Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. We were led by U.S. Forest Service wildlife specialists Tom Doolittle and Kathy Moe.


Some of the wildflowers we saw were jack-in-the-pulpit and trillium.

2016-05-21_naturefest-jackinthepulpit2016-05-21_naturefest-trilliumWe hiked to the top of the “Juniper Rock Overlook” or “Solitude Cliffs” for a scenic view, and Tom shared stories about turkey vultures.


There we saw this colorful plant, though I’m unsure what it is.


When we neared the Marengo River crossing the wildlife sightings seemed to pick up. Someone in the group spotted an uncommon West Virginia White butterfly (which, to me, from far away, looked like a common cabbage white butterfly).

I also saw my first scarlet tanager and moments later, a rose-breasted grosbeak.

2016-05-21_naturefest-scarlettanager2016-05-21_naturefest-rosebreastedgrosbeakWe were on our way to the remains of a historic Swedish settlement, but that’s when the mosquitoes swarmed us. We still made it there, though.


Kathy even showed us a remaining apple tree from their orchard, but we were ready to head back.2016-05-21_naturefest-kathymoe

A snake also slithered by me on the trail on our walk back, and later I found fresh little bear tracks in the mud. Finally, just as we were leaving, I saw the infamous ovenbird that sings “teacher-teacher-teacher.”

To see more photos, check out my Flickr page.

Pikes Creek

Our last festival excursion was to look for birds along a trail near Pikes Creek and Fish Hatchery in Bayfield. And the location – though added to the festival schedule last minute – did not disappoint.


We got lucky and saw the most birds here, including a yellow warbler and common yellowthroat.


This was also the first excursion I had been on where children also came along. I was typically the youngest in every other trip. Before we started on the other end of the trail, we stopped to look for birds close to the shore.


The other side of the trail near the fish hatchery was also a great birding spot. I followed an adorable goose family for a little while.


Okay, back to the birds that people actually travel this far north to see during spring migration. In what was one of the coolest parts of the entire trip, a couple of redstarts darted in and out of the trees and around our heads for about 10 minutes.


And I stayed hidden long enough for this shy chestnut-sided warbler to come out.


It was a wonderful ending to our trip. We commented how nice it would be to come back and walk through the sandy, shallow waters of the creek. Maybe next year.


To see more photos, check out my Flickr page.

2016 Birding and Nature Festival

Day 1: Kakagon Sloughs, Frog Bay, Nature Center

Day 2: Caroline Lake and Upson Falls

Day 3: North Country Trail and Pikes Creek


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