Waupaca County is for the birds

March 1st, 2011 by Judy Trull

So many of us, or maybe it’s just me…want to believe that Spring is right around the corner. To that end, I wanted to talk about birding and different spots to do just that and so much more in Waupaca County. Waupaca County has wonderful water resources and timeless charm in all seasons which makes it a haven for many species of birds and a great spot for birders. What many see as some of the most majestic birds, Bald Eagles, we have many sightings in Waupaca County.

Hartman Creek State Park & Emmons Creek Fishery Area are 2 properties that are popular destinations to canoeists, kayakers, hikers and birders alike. It is located west of Waupaca off of Hwy 54. These 2 areas offer 2,800 acres to explore including parts of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. It offers a mix of habitats including pine and hardwood forests, oak savannas, old field, marshes, lakes and upland meadows. This type of variety attracts lots of birds, upwards of 253 species. Volunteer naturalists at the park offer interpretive programs throughout the summer.

Keller Whitcomb Creek Woods State Natural Area is a 97 acre SNA which includes the headwaters of Whitcomb Creek, a sand bottomed, fast flowing, Class 1 trout stream with brown and brook trout. This property located north of Iola, consists of a mixture of white & red pine as well as red & white oak, flowing into a mesic forest of hemlock, yellow & paper birch and sugar maples. Nearer the stream consists of almost pure white cedar. The ground layer of vegetation offers many species of ferns. Many songbirds, such as Mourning and Nashville Warblers, can be found here.

Mukwa State Wildlife Area is a 1290 acre property located just west of New London and is a large complex of marsh, river and woods. Some of the river bottom areas are important to spring songbirds, the backwater areas attract many waterfowl species such as Great Horned and Barred Owls nest in the woods and Belted Kingfishers scout for a minnow treat from the trees which overhang the water. Geese, herons and tundra swans can be seen during the fall migration as well. Many well-marked access points where a canoe or kayak can be launched as to enjoy a meandering paddle on the water.

Myklebust Lake State Natural Area is a 20 acre, deep, marl-bottom lake with undeveloped shoreline and incredibly clear water fed by numerous springs. This property is located south of Iola and is home to many wetland plants such as White water-lily, bull-head lily as well as wild rice. A northern wet forest of tamarack, red maple and elm borders the outlet stream, which feeds the South Branch of the Little Wolf River. A 2 acre black spruce bog is on the southeast corner of the property while the east shore is dominated by a small stand of old white pine. The uniqueness of this property attracts many species of not only birds, but mammals as well.

Waupaca County Sturgeon Trail is one of the true highlights in Waupaca County, located just west of New London. In April and May, Lake Sturgeon spawn here in this shallow, rocky stretch of the Wolf River. the Sturgeon is Wisconsin’s oldest and largest fish. In 2001 the DNR paved a 1/2 mile of trail along to river to make it easy and safe for people to observe the sturgeon. the site is completely accessible. While your at it look for waterfowl during the spring and fall migrations, and be ever watchful for songbirds in the trees. This area is always good for wildlife viewing, even after the sturgeon viewing season ends.