Fall Colors & Migrations
It’s that time of year! The questions are beginning to pour in.. “When’s Peak Color?”, “When will the vultures gather?”, “Where can we go to see lots of cranes?” Well, the tough part of answering all these questions is that nature is well, on its own scheduled. Fall colors and migrations are unpredictable. What we can do is tell you where we are now, what factors might influence things, and give you our own best guess considering we live here! So let’s see what sort of fun we can look forward to in the coming weeks…
Fall colors as of 9/21/2012 – We had one really nice cold evening and expect more so the trees are certainly starting to change. An old fisherman that I met along the east bluff told me without hesitation that we would hit “Peak” colors in 2 weeks. I know better than to argue with a fisherman! So lets go with that! But as of today, there are some beautiful trees out there surrounded by a lot of summer greens, browns and yellows. What makes things around here even more confusing is that colors tend to show up on the top of the bluffs before down in the valleys, trees in the open (getting lots of sun each day) change before the trees deep in the woods, and this year due to the drought many trees turned brown in July. For those of you looking for the perfect picture of Devil’s Lake State Park’s entrance road, experience says wait until a week or so after “peak” to get the amazing yellows there. All in all, if you come next week you will see amazing colors… how much? Well, that’s anyone’s guess.
The Vulture Report – In the last couple of years people have really started to take an interest in coming to the park to see the turkey vultures gathering in the buffs before they head to South America. Again the exact time of their arrival is unpredictable, but usually in the first couple of weeks in October. In fact there were a good number of vultures flying over the fields north of the park this morning. What we usually see now is the numbers slowly increasing over the park until the skies are filled with soaring black birds. Then after a few days, they just disappear. We’ll certainly post here and on our Facebook when they are at the park in large numbers..
Hawks, Sandhill Cranes and more – At nearly the same time as the vultures are gathering at Devil’s Lake, many of central Wisconsin’s hawks will be gathering at Gibraltar Rock SNA near Lodi. The Sandhill cranes are also working their way south and are most visible along the Wisconsin river and in nearby cornfields. In addition to the big birds; warblers, tanagers, hummingbirds, vireos, thrushes and flycatchers are also moving south. Again we will post any sightings here in Sauk County and we invite you to share your sightings as well over on our Facebook page. (Oh, and did I mention that the numbers of Canada geese at Devil’s Lake are also going up fast!)
Monarch Butterflies – The Devil’s Lake State Park Nature Center will be hosting a program for school kids on September 29th, where they will be catching and tagging monarchs for the Monarch Watch program. Students will then be able to log in to MonachWatch.org and follow their monarchs as they travel to Mexico. Stay turned, as we hope to tag a couple for you to track as well. That should be fun!
If you would like to record your wildlife migration observations, we invite you to visit Journey North. They even have a cool new app that you can use to record your observations. Visit Journey North!
This is a fun time of year here in the Devil’s Lake region. Between all the fun fall events, fall colors and animal migrations there is a lot to see and do! We hope you find the time to visit and enjoy the changing seasons!