So much about an autumn hike at Schlitz Audubon refreshes the soul. Activity abounds! Rewarding sights of travel-ready birds and butterflies welcome those inclined toward a morning jaunt. A variety of warbler and other songbird species, as well as waterfowl, are preparing for journeys to southern climes. It is both a fond wave goodbye for those of us remaining in Wisconsin, and an acknowledgement that nature has its own rhythms and patterns.
Yet sight is only one sense that is piqued during time spent out of doors. The crisp sounds heard while walking through fallen Maple, Ash, Oak and Basswood leaves along the trail are entertainingly loud – a favorite for children. Have you noticed that humans are not the only ones who make such noise?
Squirrels, both Red and Gray, and smaller striped chipmunks are scurrying about on their endless quest to find energy-rich acorns and other nuts in preparation for the coming winter. If you are exceptionally quiet, you may even hear a White-tailed Deer moving through the leaves before you encounter it. Leaves pack less crunch after a rain, making that the perfect time to search for deer. You might glimpse a male with antlers in the rut season looking for a mate, or possibly, one of the young born earlier this year and experiencing autumn for the first time.
Wild Turkeys, once extremely rare here, but now virtually ubiquitous, make an entertaining clatter while scratching the lowest layers of the forest in search of food. Turkeys eat both insects and plant matter, as they too add essential body mass for the lean winter season ahead. Decaying trees fallen to the forest floor feature a variety of fungi with fleeting colors and textures.
Those utilizing our accessible boardwalks, which we are actively increasing in footage, are just as likely to experience these moving natural encounters. Happy Hiking!