Thursday, April 22, 2010

Elysium


Louisiana Waterthrush at Baxter's Hollow

The spring wildflower photographs in my previous post were taken at Baxter's Hollow in the Baraboo Hills on Tuesday. As I had anticipated, several Louisiana Waterthrushes were bobbing their tails and singing from perches along the banks of Otter Creek. Their sweeping calls were punctuated by elaborate songs of Winter Wrens, making it seem like the two species purposefully avoided singing over one another. The blue sky, wildflowers, birdsong, the soothing sound of water burbling between rocks and boulders rendered a dreamy Elysium-like experience. Unlike birding Pheasant Branch Conservancy, there were no joggers, no bicyclists, no Big Wheels, no skateboarders, no rollerbladers, no aluminum cans or plastic bottles on the ground, no shouting or yelling, no radios, police sirens, sound of beltline traffic, no pet dogs barking or defecating on the trail, or running off-leash through the woods; it was undiluted and undisturbed Nature in full splendor, just as she ought to be experienced. For an urbanized natural area, Pheasant Branch can still have its moments, which is quite extraordinary considering how much it's changed over the past several years, but being at Baxter's Hollow all afternoon reminded me just how degraded Middleton's popular creek corridor trail is and has become. Over 20 warbler species nest at Baxter's, whereas you would be lucky to find a Yellow Warbler or Common Yellowthroat nesting along the creek corridor at Pheasant Branch. For a few weeks in May, though, it's not too hard to imagine you're birding somewhere in the tropics along this narrow stretch of disturbed habitat. Though its close to home and a place I can quickly and easily get to for birding most any time, it's far from ever being a Baxter's Hollow.

Louisiana Waterthrush © 2010 Mike McDowell

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