Tuesday, April 19, 2011

~ Back in Jackson County ~ The Foundation Trail ~

Today I have picked my favorite place to write about. The 4.5 mile trail that wound itself around the small town of Black River Falls. Where we lived on Fillmore Street, we could walk 3 blocks and we were there. Most of the trail was paved, though in some places you walked on sidewalks, through parks, or on the side of the road.

Sitting here staring off into space I can see it perfectly, though I doubt I can put onto paper how beautiful it really is! It is the most unique and diverse place I have ever spent my time; high spots and low spots, wooded areas and clear meadows and an opening above the Black River where one could sit on a bench and see Great Blue Herons land silently on the nearby banks, or watch people paddle down the river in their long canoes. I loved it when the sun would shine straight through the opening and it’s reflection would ripple in the small waves.

But the thing I loved most about the Foundation Trail was the bird life. Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Osprey, various hawks, Pileated Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Chickadees and Warblers. Just to name a few! There was never a time when I did not hear a Pileated Woodpecker call through the dense trees. Rarely did I see one, but their eerie yet awesome call was forever echoing through town.

We often named our favorite spots along the trail. The bench over-looking the Black River we dubbed “Audubon Bend.” The small meadow beyond we called “Beatrix Glen.” Beatrix Glen was always full of flowers, tall grasses, flittering birds and an occasional carcass or two. Yes, I said carcass. You would not believe what mammals made the trail in the middle of town their home. There is the black bear who lives near the elementary school, the cougar who wanders the town, the red fox who likes to tease photographers by disappearing into thin air and the many white-tailed deer that run along the little creek in the woods. All of these things I never would have expected to find living in the middle of town and all amazed me. Though the cougar screaming during one of our rare nighttime walks scared me half to death. But it was nothing compared to the last time I heard a cougar.

One of the most memorable times on the trail was when we had our friend Joe Westbrook with us. We had just been telling him about the Pileated Woodpecker when my sister Sara and I spotted a young female darting through the trees. Joe and I had our cameras on and ready in half a second and were after it. After us taking many photographs of it hidden behind leaves, it finally showed itself by flying across the small creek and landing at the base of a tree. Then it did something I had never seen any kind of woodpecker do before - it dipped it’s bill into the water, then brought it’s head up and swallowed. It did this three times before flying on down the creek and disappearing. But it was the best birding day of my life.

And here I shall close. I tend to write these posts at night and find myself going on and on until I realize how late it really is. Tomorrow will hopefully bring another post. Goodbye for now!

~ Mara

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