Tucked away in the corner of the Whitnall Park area, is this gem of 50+ acres of woods is missed by most visitors. You may come across one or two locals walking these trails, but nowhere near the number encountered elsewhere. There is no shortage of wildlife here however as you will certainly come across dozens of Eastern Chipmunks, Grey Squirrels, White Tailed Deer, and a wide variety of birds, this day including two Merlins - moderate sized falcons that were probably migrating through the area this fine fall morning.
To get to the trails, you'll have to park on the road and walk a few hundred yards, but it's not so bad of a walk.
The trails are well marked and easy on the difficulty scale. The land is owned by the Milwaukee Public Schools but is mostly used for their 'ropes' course. A quick search of the history of this piece of land shows that it was a section of farm land originally settled back in the 1830's and may have some virgin trees still standing here. HISTORY
Surrounding land was cleared by settlers for farming or burned by the Potawatomi to encourage wildlife, but perhaps here is one of the last stands of virgin forest. If you are in this area, be sure to check it out.
At a recent visit to the local public library, I was impressed with the variety and splendor of their flower display. Initially chasing butterflies, I changed my focus over to the flowers themselves. When done with that, I wondered if they had more at the city hall. I was not disappointed and found even more varieties. Beautiful flowers on a beautiful summer day. I have many more, but am saving them for a cold, wintery day to go through!
Was great to catch the prelims of this fantastic sport this past weekend held just off downtown Milwaukee. Skiers from all over the world. They go so fast, the photos are nice in that they capture the intensity and physicality of this sport that you miss in person. Click a photo to view full screen.
I had just finished a shot nature walk at Grobschmidt Park in Franklin, WI and was sitting in the car, going over the shots I had taken. Mostly wild flowers, nothing special, when I heard a sharp "Kyawk!!" to my left. Lo and behold, a Green Heron had just parked in a dead tree across the road, right next to the lake.
For 20 minutes he put on a great show of his yoga workout.
The past few days, I've been exploring Franklin, Wisconsin's Froemming Park. I can't seem to find any history of this 70 acre parcel of land although it appears that part of it was farmed at one point (old fencing). It's on Milwaukee's southwest side at 51st and Puetz Rd. It's claim to fame is the Milwaukee County Sports Complex plus a small baseball diamond and couple of barely used soccer fields.
What seems to be missed completely by web reviews so far, is the nice variety of wildlife present. The land is dominated by open fields separated by several strips of hardwood trees, and bordered to the west by the Root River, and on the far south by a marshy natural area. There are a few reports of birding here on eBird to go by, but not many, so off I went in search of the unknown!
Day 1: I parked just off Puetz Road on the north end, where there is access to the paved bike path that runs through here. Just past a row of bushes, you will find a mowed grass path used mostly by dog walkers but I only saw 3 other people using this path over the two visits I made. (most are out zooming around on paved path). Right off the bat, I came across a pair of Grey Catbirds singing from the bushes. A little patience prevailed and I got some great views of them.
Over the next hour I came up with 14 species which also included a Cedar Waxwing, a Savannah Sparrow, and 3 much enjoyed Eastern Meadowlarks spotted on one of the soccer fields. Not extremely common around here, mostly seen near the big airport, but I'm not going ANYWHERE near there these days carrying around a big camera!
Nearing the south end of the trail, I spooked up a Northern Flicker from the brush. Following him with my camera, I snapped a photo of him landing on a nearby tree. Later, when I got home, I found out what I really caught in that photo: not just the Flicker, but also a Robin on the left, and what looks like a Northern Mockingbird on the right! That would be a lifer for me, so I HAD to go back again this morning to see if I could find him.
Day 2: This morning I parked in the little parking lot off of 51st street. Arriving around 8am, before anyone else, I found a Brown Headed Cowbird amongst some Red Winged Black Birds and about 25 Barn Swallows flying about. This would prove to be nothing as later I counted 50 Barn Swallows sitting in a dead tree! I immediately headed back to where I saw that possible Mockingbird, which was just west of the 2nd Tee in the Frisbee Golf Course. Tip: the 4th hole in that course is on top of a small hill, which has a commanding view of most of the Root River Valley (small valley) and surrounding fields. Sitting up on the grass here affords views of the birds flying about which included a Red Tailed Hawk and a number of Goldfinches which looked like yellow tennis balls swooping - up - and - down - across - the - sky. Great place for binoculars here.
Now, sitting on the west end of the hill (green "X" on the map above), I think I spot him right away. THERE HE IS! Well, maybe not, but I did manage to catch a second bird in my shot again ... this time a Baltimore Oriole? Hard to tell.
I've got to get a closer view, so I slowly creep up, using some brush as a cover .... but he sees me. ZIP! GONE!
RATS! Here's a closeup of this yellow bird. I had seen one the day before down by the river, but it was just a quick glimpse.
Just as he left, however, my Northern Flicker friend comes back while I'm still in good position and I get a beautiful angle on him.A male (black whisker), yellow shafted (brown head and you can just see some yellow by his tail) Northern Flicker. The highlight of the day.
So, I still need to go back and look for that Mockingbird. In addition, as I was researching the park for this blog entry, I find out that the city of Franklin, WI is planning on developing this whole plot of land for more baseball diamonds. This whole natural area will be GONE forever. So, now I'm committed to recording as much wildlife here as possible and posting my findings on these pages. Stay tuned!
Two weeks ago (just 2 posts ago), I crossed paths with an 8 point buck at a local park. Well, this morning our paths met again and now he's got 10 points on his majestic set of antlers! His location still kept secret and he is in a non-hunting area. In fact, I rarely see anyone milling about in this wild area of a local park, so I think he should have a safe and happy life!
The dawn patrol hit Scout Lake Park this morning in Greendale, Wisconsin with hopes of catching something unusual, such as perhaps the resident beaver I have seen here before. They are quite rare in this area. Actually, this was the second stop, but the sun really hadn't cleared the trees yet at this "sunk in a hole" kind of lake, so it was still pretty dark.
The Mallards were just waking up. Many still sleeping on the banks. I counted a total of 45 including these youngest ones who were out for a swim with Mom.
I walked on the path that goes around the perimeter, stopping at the fishing pier which gives a great view of all parts of the shore line. The best find I had after 20 minutes of sitting there was a pack of fishing bobbers left by someone the day before, then suddenly I heard the Kingfisher rattle! Oh boy! There were three actually, perched on dead branches, then diving into the water for fish. Kingfishers seem to be mostly solitary, so I wonder if these were siblings?
As I watched them from across the lake, I got the notion that I should move over there to get closer. Of course, no sooner than I did that ... where did they go? Over by the pier from where I just came!
Oh well, I was comfortable quietly sitting on my little rock on the shore, so I waited. An older man and child walked by and started fishing from the pier. Another gentleman slowly started jogging laps around the lake.
Then suddenly, I got my chance .... CLICKITY CLICKITY CLICK!!!
One flew right towards me and landed just about over my head. The light wasn't the greatest, so I've had to process them quite a bit, but I'm still very happy with the shots I did get. Well worth the effort in my book.