OK, so this was amazing. We were out walking around Devil’s Lake last evening, when we came across a young heron who was catching minnows along the south shore beach. It was a great photo opportunity. The heron stayed by us for some time before flying off to land in the far northern corner of the south shore beach area. That’s when all “nature” broke loose!
Young Heron lands near an Osprey standing on the beach.
The heron landed right next to an Osprey who was eating along the beach. Ospreys are predators, screaming fast hunters who spy fish from the air, then dive in for the catch before carrying a fish off into a nest or other high area to eat. It was rare to see an osprey on the ground. Well, the Osprey was not too happy that the heron landed so close and started telling the heron off in it’s eagle-like voice. Then suddenly…
Bald Eagle Attacks Osprey
Out of nowhere a Bald Eagle slammed down on top of the osprey! The heron took flight and just got the heck out of there! The battle ensued with the osprey backing off into the water, while the eagle continued to pounce and claw at the smaller bird.
Osprey displays while holding its ground.
Finally the osprey seemed to recover and get out from under the eagles furious attack. The osprey stood back and put its wings out in a threat display. The Bald Eagle seemed a bit taken aback by the scrappy little hawk. It was a not going to be the easy fight it had assumed. We had a stand off.
Finally, they turned and flew off in different directions.
After a few moments frozen in a staring contest, both birds turned away from each other and lifted out of the water to fly in opposite directions.
Bald Eagle flies away after its battle with the osprey.
This is not the first time we’ve seen a bald eagle attack an osprey at Devil’s Lake State Park. Once we saw an eagle attack an osprey in the air. When the osprey dropped it’s fish, the eagle swooped down to grab it out of the air before flying off. Bald eagles can be bullies. In fact, Ben Franklin prefered the wild turkey over the Bald eagle as our national symbol. He wrote in a letter in 1784 that a Bald Eagle was “a Bird of bad moral Character” that “does not get his Living honestly.” He also wrote
“You may have seen him perch’d on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk [Osprey]; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.”
Hey, we love our Bald Eagles, but yeah sometimes they’re just big bullies!!
On a side note, fall is the perfect time to see wildlife at Devil’s Lake State Park. Now that most of the people are gone, Bald Eagles, osprey, heron, geese and other critters are certainly more visible than any other time of the year. The fall migration will start bringing a variety of ducks and birds for a short time as well. In October turkey vultures from all over the state will be gathering at the park before heading south for the winter. During the gathering it’s possible to see hundreds of vultures in the air at one time. It’s an amazing sight and not to be missed! Remember, we’ll post their arrival on Facebook & twitter as well.
To resolve color peeper confusion and increase tourism dollars in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker, after consulting with DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, has declared that Wisconsin’s trees must achieve peak fall color for the weekend of October 10th, through the 12th, 2014. The Governor got the idea recently while watching the 1967 musical “Camelot” in which King Arthur, played by Sir Richard Harris, sang such lyrics as “A law was made a distant moon ago here: July and August cannot be too hot. And there’s a legal limit to the snow here. In Camelot.” Walker was quoted as saying, “Well, if a king of England can control the weather, I certainly can!”
Thanks to this declaration, color watchers can now plan their vacations without fear of missing peak color on every tree in all Wisconsin State Parks. Chamber of Commerce offices around the state praise this declaration as eliminating the confusion of natural weather processes and saving hundreds of hours having to explain to callers that there is no exact “peak color” weekend in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Dells waterpark owners are hoping that the Governor will continue to take his que from Camelot and declare that “The rain may never fall till after sundown.” before the 2015 summer season begins….
Now of course, this is all satire. But anyone who has worked in the tourism field long enough has faced the phone call where they are asked exactly when the fall colors will peak and had to take the brunt of the callers frustration when they try to explain that we can’t really guarantee a peak color date.
Here’s a bit of video taken on the last Devil’s Lake State Park kayak tour of 2014. If you’d like to join the park naturalist for a paddle around Devil’s Lake next year, just keep an eye on our events calendar for 2015 updates.
The shoulder season has arrived here in the Devil’s Lake region. The kids are back to school, the trails at Devil’s Lake State Park are nearly empty and suddenly the morning fog has returned over the Baraboo & Wisconsin river valleys. This is one of the BEST times to visit the area if you can. For the most part you can still enjoy warm, summer temperatures, play in warm water and relax on quiet beaches, devoid of summer crowds. What’s more, many private campgrounds are offering great deals now that peak season is over as well! Of course, these few special few weeks will soon vanish as temperatures drop and the fall color crowds arrive… Then comes the snow….
Devil’s Lake State Park News & Notes.
First, campers will want to note that construction on new restroom/shower buildings will begin after September 20th. From then on, Quartzite Campground and part of Northern Lights Campgrounds will be closed for most of the fall season. At this time we don’t know how long they will remain closed.
Badger Trails weekend will be held on October 3rd-5th, 2014. This means the park will be overflowing in scouts. This year there will be NO public camping (Outside of Group Camp) during the event weekend.
The north shore Chateau and south shore concessions will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., into October. The Ice Age Store will be open limited hours on weekends into early October. You can still rent canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, rowboats and stand-up paddleboards at both the north and south shore concessions.
Saturday, Sept 13th you can join the park naturalist out on Roznos Meadow for Monarch Butterfly Tagging. Kids really enjoy this event each year. The monarch butterflies are starting to migrate south for the winter and it’s a perfect time to capture and tag them. The results will be recorded with Monarch Watch. Meet at the Roznos Meadow parking lot on Hwy 113 from 1 to 3 pm. Nets and monarch tags will be provided.
In The Area
In Baraboo the Downtown Farmer’s Markets are still running from 7:30 AM - 1:00 PM on Wednesday & Saturday. You can also explore the Downtown Baraboo Sunday Market, Sundays from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Baraboo’s Fall Fair on the Square, The Fall Art Tour and other autumn events will be coming up in October… Stay tuned…
Dare I say that there will be hot, steaming, piles of fun in the area this weekend? Well, not really hot and steaming.. But anyway, the annual Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw & Festival runs tomorrow & Saturday (Aug, 29 & 30, 2014) in Sauk Prairie. About 40,000 people attend the event each year which offers free live music stages, lots of food, a craft fair, a 5 & 10k run and of course… lots of people tossing cow dung. The record, according to wiscowchip.com, is 248 feet. For details, location and directions head over to the Cow Chip Festival Website Here.
Meanwhile in Baraboo you can take in the annual Baraboo River Rendezvous put on my the Spirit Lake Mountain Men. The event runs Friday Aug, 29th through Sunday Aug, 31st from 9am to 5pm each day. Step back in time to see historic reenactments of Camps, traders, & events. Enjoy food & fun activities as well throughout the weekend. For more info click here.
At Devil’s Lake State Park this weekend it’s your last chance to take part in a few sponsored summer activities until next year including the last Bat Watch Friday evening just as the sun sets, the last kayak tour on Saturday night (Sat AM was canceled), and the last Music In The Park on Sunday. For details head over to our events calendar right here.
It’s never been exactly “safe” walking along the section of South Shore Road that connects the West Bluff trails to the sidewalk at the south end of the lake. Speeding cars and a blind corner rarely mix well! Now, that’s finally changing.
After a search for remnants of an endangered orchid that was once found in the area turned up nothing, construction was allowed to go ahead. Soon the sidewalk along south shore will be extended to meet the West Bluff trails. Until then, hikers need to be extra cautious around the machinery and drivers will also want to go slow through the construction area.
Note: South Lake Road will be closed on Monday 08-25 and Tuesday 08-26 from 6 AM – 9 AM by the boat landing to replace the culvert.
Did you know that when you touch a Jewelweed seed pod it will pop? It’s a big surprise and lots of fun for kids and adults who have never tried it before. The time to give it a go is right now!
Jewelweed is a common plant at Devil’s Lake State Park and in the region in general. Most often it’s found filling ditches and wet areas along streams. (There’s a bunch up by the Devil’s Lake State Park nature center as well!) Jewelweed stands 3-5 feet tall and often grows in clumps. It’s fairly easy to recognise with thick squarish stems and orange horn-like flowers. The seed pods look like little peapods and will when ripe will pop at the lightest pressure. (Watch the video) Have fun!
The big area event this weekend is the annual Badger Steam & Gas show featuring: antique tractors, steam engines, antique cars, trucks, and snowmobiles, models/miniatures, woodworking and print shops and more. There is also a huge flea market that’s often worth the price of admission all by itself. Food available on the grounds as well. The event runs through Sunday the 17th and is held at their show grounds between Baraboo & Wisconsin Dells. [MAP CLICK HERE] If you’ve never been to the Badger Steam & Gas Show, it is a loud, dusty affair with lots of walking involved. Kids will love the the noise, the machinery, the animals and of course the food. However, if you have allergies or asthma be prepared to deal with thick smoke and dust throughout your day.
Park visitor trying her hand at the park’s Archery Days event.
Meanwhile at Devil’s Lake State Park, this is the last Archery Weekend event. Drop in any time Saturday or Sunday from 10:30 to 3pm to try your hand with a bow and arrow. Whether you are experienced with a bow or never tried, there will be certified instructors to help kids of all ages with some target practice. The location is easy to find between the north shore bat condo and boat landing. More events at the park this weekend include a presentation by Eric Carson, Associate Professor at the Wisconsin Geologic and Natural History Survey at the University of Wisconsin Extension, who will share what they’ve discovered about Devil’s Lake through the many soil cores they’ve taken, Animal Feeding at the Nature Center, Friday night Fish Fry and a “Stuck on the Rocks” ropes rescue presentation. Click here for event calendar and details.
Oh yes, and don’t forget the Farmer’s Market, Saturday from 7:30 AM - 1:00 PM & the Sunday Market, Sunday from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM on the historic downtown square here in Baraboo.
I think that covers the big stuff. Have fun this weekend and be safe out there!
So let’s face it, this has become a farce. Those in charge of managing Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area have simply abdicated or given up. What’s more, they have created a trap for visitors by not providing adequate parking. This is a very old problem and it seems the bucks are passing faster than migrating sandhill cranes.
I could rant on about the destruction going on in Pewit’s Nest as well as Parfrey’s Glen state natural areas here in Baraboo.. and I have.. (Poor Norman Cart Fassett must be rolling in his grave!) In the end if we don’t act, the earth will shrug us off and move on. Until then we’ll simply allow these special places to be flattened by overuse because, “It’s not my problem.” Then our community will wonder where all the visitors went, shocked and amazed to learn that “nature” was the real attraction all along.
But I’m sidetracked. My little rant today is actually about ticket trapping visitors that all started when someone said, “Let’s create an inadequate parking area at Pewit’s Nest.” I’ve even heard suggestion that inadequate parking was intentional to keep numbers down. If true, that planner should be fired! What it did do was force people to park up and down a dangerous corner. In fact just last Saturday cars were parked so far down the road, that they were beginning to park up a further side road as well. How crazy is that?? Sure, we could say that the driver’s are at fault and that they should just follow the laws and come back later.. But frankly we all know better and you can’t hide behind the letter of the law when you need a long-term solution.
While locals often visit during the week, most weekend visitors have made a special effort to visit. They may only have this one Saturday or one weekend to visit. Do we expect them to drive by? Really?
Here’s one snippet from a TripAdvisor review,
“We were going to visit on another day a month or so ago, but turned around because there are only 8-9 parking places and the 12 or so cars on the road all had parking tickets on them.” - Read the rest of the reviews here.
We, our community, our state, told them “Come! Visit! It’s A Must See!”. Then we didn’t provide them parking. Then to add insult to injury, and get this, then we pass out parking tickets. On any given Saturday, Sauk County patrol officers can basically harvest parking tickets at will around Pewit’s. It’s no secret locally. It just is. Pewit’s Nest on summer Saturdays reminds me of one of those private wedding parties you drive by, where cars are lined up and down the side of a busy highway and you’re just waiting for someone to get hit trying to get into their car. Just crazy.
Here in Baraboo, these beautiful natural areas are ours. Yours and mine. We need to care more. We also need to realize that the visitors to these areas are our guests and they help us pay the bills. The answer isn’t to close these areas to the public as some have suggested. We simply need deal with the issues of being popular, invest in theinfrastructure to match our visitor needs & numbers, provide appropriate law enforcement and for Pete’s sake, provide adequate parking!
Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!