Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 1-25-17

After two weeks of Seattle-like weather we finally got snow again. Granted, it is very wet, heavy snow that is probably more typical of the Pacific Northwest than Wisconsin, but fresh snow is beautiful. I wanted to go to the Pheasant Branch Conservancy at least once this month but I was putting off my visit until it snowed. Part of my reasoning was that I wanted to visit the springs. They look more gorgeous in the winter when the flowing water contrasts with snow. They are also an area birds like to congregate this time of year.

I saw few birds yesterday, even at the springs. My species list was very short and there was nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year. I did, however, enjoy the walk. The precipitation was a bit hybrid, not quite warm enough to be freezing rain, but not quite typical snow either. It stung my face a little, but the main discomfort was from getting my hair all wet. Rather than making me miserable, this made me appreciate being outside. The weather made it an experience I had to earn.

I think forests are the most beautiful spaces in winter but yesterday I spent most of my time in prairie/savanna and near marsh. I made a game of trying to identify the withered plants. The tall one was cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum)- some of the unmistakable leaves were still intact. I also recognized round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata). The scattered trees were beautiful with the snow adorning their deep brown limbs. The bright branches of red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) in the marsh brought color to a landscape that was otherwise low in it.

My favorite part of the walk was the sound of falling snow. I could hear it while walking but whenever I paused I was stunned by how overpowering its quiet sound could be in the middle of the prairie. The snow was my one constant companion while walking through the winter wonderland.

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