News briefs: Getting outdoors in Wisconsin

More than half-way to its fundraising goal of $75,000, the Great Wisconsin Birdathon 2014 has thus far earned $38,296 for bird conservation in the state. The Birdathon is a month-long event during which birders collect donations for each bird they will identify in one 24-hour period at some point during May. Among the 8 different bird conservation projects supported, are the Whooping Crane Reintroduction Program, and the Monitoring and Management of the Kirtland’s Warbler.

Birding on Lake Michigan (Photo at Flickr by Peter Gorman)

Birding on Lake Michigan (Photo by Peter Gorman, at Flickr)

Take a Birding Blitz field trip

There are at least 3 or 4 different ways to participate in the Great Wisconsin Birdathon. One that’s particularly tailored to those who are new to birding are the Birding Blitz field trips sponsored by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Expert birders will be your guide through an educational morning at various birding hotspots around the state. Four Birding Blitzes still have openings, including: the Southern Kettle Moraine (Friday, May 23rd), the Buena Vista Grassland (Saturday, May 24th), Birding Hot Spots of Green Bay Bird City (Saturday, May 24th), and Birding Blitz Door County (Saturday, May 31st). A fifth Birding Blitz at Wyalusing Haunts (Friday, May 23rd) is listed as “Full,” but if that’s the one that would work for you, it never hurts to call the Natural Resources Foundation (866-264-4096) to see if there have been cancellations.

Blue mound (Flickr Photo by Jonathan Bloy)

Blue mound (Photo by Jonathan Bloy, at Flickr)

The ever-so-popular field trips of Wisconsin’s NRF

Speaking of the field  trips sponsored by Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin – both the quality and the popularity of these programs mean they fill up fast. Right now nearly 80 trips listed for June through November are listed as “full,” while only 40, or so, still have openings. In The Green Travel Guide to Southern Wisconsin, authors Pat Dillon and Lynne Diebel say “NRF trips offer expert guides, one-of a kind experiences, and remarkable low prices, making these trips among the best outdoor activities in the state. We love these outdoor adventures.”

Here are two examples from the NRF field trips scheduled for June (12 June trips still have openings):

Bluebird Trail Hike:  Come hike along an established bluebird nest-box trail, Friday morning, June 6th, at Muscoda in Iowa County;

Drawing Delights from Willow River: As noted on the schedule, this one is offered especially for artists and sketchers (novices welcome). This unique exploration combines hiking, drawing, and ecology: see and sketch waterfalls, forested slopes, spring flowers and ferns; a botanical illustrator will offer instruction for sketching with pencil, pen, or watercolor.

Flickr photo "Willow River Falls," by zman z28.

Willow River Falls (Photo by zman z28, at Flickr)

 

Get outdoors with The Nature Conservancy

There are many wonderful ways to “Get Outdoors” in Wisconsin, and here’s one more to consider this week. The Nature Conservancy, which has a presence in all 50 states and 35 other countries around the world, works in Wisconsin by protecting public lands and migratory songbird habitat, and by expanding protected areas, and through working with agriculture to improve water quality. Look at this page with both a map and a list of nature conservancy preserves in the Dairy State. Find a new place you would like to explore, then check out these Guidelines for Visiting a Conservancy preserve.

Peter Matthiessen, novelist and wilderness writer, lifted the cause for cranes

Novelist, naturalist, and wilderness writer Peter Matthiessen, who passed away April 5th, is credited by the International Crane Foundation’s Jim Harris with bringing “our organization and the crane cause to a new level.” After joining ICF in 1992 for a crane workshop held on a river boat on the Amur River, which forms the border between Russia and China, Matthiessen began a personal odyssey to follow all 15 species of cranes on their transcontinental migration journeys. In time a wonderful book, The Birds of Heaven, Travels with Cranes,(2001), and a national speaking tour in concert with ICF, resulted, and raised the visibility of the crane cause to new heights. Jim Harris calls this book “a significant contribution to crane literature and thought,” praising the author’s “evocation of the spirit of cranes.”

To Peter Matthiessen the cranes were “the greatest of the flying birds” and “the most stirring.” He wrote that their “clarion calls out of the farthest skies, summon our attention to our own swift passage on this precious earth.”

 

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