Wonderful Northern Kettle Moraine and the interesting places, with places and things to see and do.
Spruce Lake Bog National Natural Landmark
The Spruce Lake was designated a National Landmark in 1973 by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the interior.
A relic from glacial times, Spruce Lake Bog is unique in the Kettle Moraine. Grass-pink and moccasin flower orchids are among the many plants special to this ancient bog environment.
An undisturbed shallow seepage bog lake situated in one of the many kettle holes characteristic of the interlobate glacial deposits scattered throughout the area. The 35-acre lake has moderately hard water with a pH of 7.5 and supports a dense, floating-leaved aquatic flora of water shield and water lilies. The site is particularly rich in plants more characteristic of northern Wisconsin sphagnum bogs and greatly resembles them in appearance. Black spruce, which is common in the swamp forest, is near its southern range limit in Wisconsin. Distinct vegetation zones encircle the lake with a floating sedge mat of cotton grass, three-fruited sedge, royal fern, pitcher plant, round-leaved sundew, moccasin flower, wintergreen, and small cranberry grading into a bog forest of tamarack and black spruce. An outer zone of swamp hardwoods includes tamarack, black ash, red maple, yellow birch, and white cedar and contains species more commonly associated with northern coniferous forests including three-leaved gold-thread, American starflower, partridgeberry, common winterberry, and yellow blue-bead lily. The diversity of shrubs on the sedge mat and in the forest is indicative of the area’s high quality. Species include speckled alder, black chokeberry, willow, round-leaved and red-osier dogwood, Labrador-tea, bog birch, leather-leaf, bog-rosemary, poison sumac, mountain holly, meadowsweet, huckleberry, cranberry, and blueberry. Several bird species with northern affinities nest here, including northern waterthrush, Nashville warbler, Canada warbler, and white-throated sparrow. Spruce Lake Bog has been designated a national natural landmark by the US Park Service. Spruce Lake Bog is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1968.
Accessible from the intersection of State Highway 67 and County Highway F in Dundee, go west on F 0.2 mile, then north on Vista Drive 1.3 miles, then west on Airport Road 0.4 mile to a parking area north of the road. A trail and boardwalk lead to the lake.
Galloway House and Village
Take a historic walk through old times in this beautifully refurbished village which features numerous antiques, and other items of interest.
Dundee Mill Park
The Dundee Mill has been a historic landmark for the residents of the surrounding area of 1855.
Through the years the mill has cut lumber for area homes; ground flour for national marketing; produced electricity; and in its last capacity, ground feed for farmers. Burned in 1925, rebuilt in 1926, the mill stands today as a monument to the pioneers of yesteryear. In addition to the mill, Dundee Mill Park features two ponds and extensive recreational facilities.
Sandpipers: "Birds of the Wind" by Bill Volkert, Wildlife Educator/Naturalist DNR Horicon Marsh
Various families and groups of birds have been given common names to describe them or their habits. Among these are the ducks, geese, and swans, which we call waterfowl. Hawks and owls are often called birds of prey after their hunting habits.
Among the large family of finches we have sub-groups, such as the sparrows, grosbeaks and what we think of as true finches.
Warblers are know as well, warblers and the nighthawks and whippoor-wills are called goatsuckers, a term derived from an old myth about their suspected nightly feeding habits.
Our sandpipers and a closely related family, the plovers are known collectively as shorebirds. This name describes their favorite habitats along the shorelines of large lakes and ocean coasts.
The sandpipers are a large family of about 30 different species of birds that may visit Wisconsin during their migration, while the plovers comprise a much smaller group of five kinds of birds, including the killdeer.
Sandpipers are known for their relatively long legs, necks, and large beaks, which they use to probe in the mud for insects as food.
The plovers have stout necks and shorter beaks, but both of these families of birds find their food among flooded fields, mudflats, and shorelines where they wade in shallow water seeking buried food.
While the killdeer will commonly nest throughout much of our state, the majority of shorebirds are but a brief sight in Wisconsin during their annual treks which take them well north of us for nesting.
They are also seen again in autumn as they make their relatively brief stopovers on a tremendous journey that few other birds can rival. We certainly know that many birds make annual migratory journeys from their southerly wintering grounds to northern nesting sites.
For those that nest in Canada, we only see them in transit as they pass through our state. However, among all the families of birds that migrate, few can surpass the shorebirds.
The first shorebirds begin to show up in March when the killdeer return. In early to mid-April, we begin to see the greater and lesser yellowlegs. As the name implies, there is a larger sandpiper and its smaller cousin, which can be recognized by their long yellow legs.
They are joined next by the snipe and pectoral sandpipers. By the time we get to late April and early May, we witness the great passage of other shorebirds the semi-palmated plover, golden and black-bellied plovers, least sandpiper, spotted sandpiper, stilt sandpiper, Hudsonian godwit and the ruddy turnstone, among others.
These are just a few of the many kinds of birds that may be seen if you stop to scan a flooded field or mudflat and identify the variety of birds in a large flock.
By the end of May, all but perhaps the spotted sandpiper, snipe, and killdeer have left for nesting grounds located in the sub-arctic and arctic regions of Canada.
I have watched sandpipers nesting along Hudson Bay, nearly 1,000 miles north of here, among the abundant shallow water where the permafrost does not allow good drainage of the land.
I have also seen shorebirds nesting as far north as 500 and even 1,000 miles beyond the Arctic Circle near the very top of the world where few other birds dare to go.
What is even more astounding is the fact that these birds winter even farther to the south. In Wisconsin, we begin to again see the first shorebirds appear in July and August. During what should be the height of summer, we can find the first migrant birds coming down from the north heading out well ahead of the rest of the flock.
Scientists believe that most of these are males that have already mated but do not assist in the rearing of the young, or birds that have lost their nest for the year. Shorebirds are born able to walk within the first day of life, so the parents dont have to bring food to them.
They simply lead the young to good feeding areas and provide a watch over predators. So perhaps to avoid competition with a growing young or migration, the first shorebirds are back from the arctic during mid-summer.
By late August and September, we begin to see the peak of the fall migration for shorebirds with the last passing through in October and a few stragglers hanging around into November in Wisconsin.
These birds make among the longest migrations of many in the bird world. Many of them will spend the winter on the coast along the Caribbean while others travel further into South America, even reaching Tierra del Fuego at the southern-most tip of the continent.
The Bairds sandpiper, which I find in Wisconsin in most years, is a little difficult to distinguish from some of the other small sandpipers, but excels in its migration.
These birds literally fly from southern South America to nest beyond the Arctic Circle, covering about 10,000 miles each way!
Such long distance migrants require abundant feeding sites along the way, and Horicon Marsh or surrounding flooded fields provide a much-needed rest and re-fueling stop. If the marsh is experiencing low water levels in spring or fall, it may have the mudflats which these birds require.
In wetter years, the marsh may be too deep for shorebirds but the surrounding fields will be wet enough to get a good meal. In order to complete such amazing journeys, these birds also rely on the wind to help them on their way. When we have south winds that blow steadily throughout the night, we may see a great influx of shorebirds and songbirds on the following days.
Most of these birds migrate at night and can be found on the following days as they spend a brief period of time to rest and prepare for the next leg of a journey that will cover thousands of miles.
What a sight it is to see a mudflat covered with a dozen or more kinds of shorebirds to see so many kinds of birds dividing up the shallow to deeper water as they probe for insects. You may find the smallest birds on the exposed wet mud and the taller birds wading out in the somewhat deeper water.
To watch this display of birds is a moment of discovery, but to realize that we are only seeing a brief respite of these long-distance wanderers that traverse the continents is a revelation of one of the many wonders of nature. These birds come and go each spring and fall, traveling on the wind.