You can capture two fall happenings at one time by traveling over to Horicon Marsh in Eastern Wisconsin. Horicon is a 33,000 acre (right, count the zeros) of wildlife, freshwater plants and a fall bird migration stop just south of Fond du Lac and about 1.5 hours north of either Madison or Milwaukee. Its bordering trees make photos here picture perfect.
Divided by two government entities, the north two thirds is operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. The southern third is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area.
You can hike, bike, kayak and canoe. To say bird watch would be an understatement. Thousands of ducks and Canada geese land here each fall.
The marsh is the largest redhead duck nesting place east of the Mississippi and sees the largest migrating flock of Canada geese. Mid-September is fine but to capture nearly 200,000 geese in your lens go in mid-October. As with TV that ads say, “wait, there is more,” you are likely to see some of the marsh’s 300 bird species including cranes and pelicans.
Among the largest freshwater marshes in the United States, Horicon is filled with muskrats, fish, frogs and red fox. Check events at the HoriconMarsh.org site for hikes.
There will be a guided hike and bird watch event Oct. 3 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Also a sunset crane watch is at the Palmatory Overlook, 1210 N. Palmatory St., Oct.17 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
A good intro to the marsh is the Emporium, a new interactive center that is fun for kids and adults.
Turn the trip into a vacation by staying nearby at the Honeybee Inn. The breakfasts are great, the rooms comfy and innkeepers/owners Barb and Fred Ruka are knowledgeable about the marsh and other area sights.
The Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is on the east side of Horicon Marsh, 3.5 miles south of State Highway 49 on County Road Z at W4279 Headquarters Road, Mayville, WI 53050, 920-387-2658. The Wildlife Center is at N7725 HIGHWAY 28, Horicon, WI 53032, 920-387-7890.