Printable Field Trip Descriptions

Saturday, June 1, 2019


 Early Birds (Dunnville Bottoms, Downsville) – 3 ½ hours

The floodplain terraces of the Lower Chippewa River contain a mosaic of dynamic ecosystems shaped by periodic fire and flooding. Habitats in the Dunnville Wildlife Area range from bottomland forests, oak savannas, prairies, brushlands, wet swales and open water sloughs. This mixture of natural communities hosts a unique array of bird species including Lark Sparrow, Bell’s Vireo, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Black-billed Cuckoo. This trip will allow you to visit these habitats and view these species and discuss species identification and habitat requirements. Please note: NO bathroom facilities at all on this trip. Please bring: Binoculars, field guides, extra water, snacks and bug repellent. Leader: Steve Betchkal – Limit 14

Directions: Please meet at 6:00AM at the intersection of County Highway Y and 524th Street (aka “Dunnville Road”). From Menomonie, travel south on State Highway 25 (go past Downsville) and travel on for more 4 miles. Turn east on County Highway Y. Travel for 3 miles, descending into the Red Cedar River Valley. Cross a bridge over the Red Cedar River,
immediately after which is 524th Street.

Link to map:
Other related Weblinks:

7:00 am

Canoeing the Red Cedar and Chippewa Rivers (Dunnville to Durand) – 4 hours

Canoeing the Red Cedar River

Travel on two different rivers as we paddle through the heart of the Lower Chippewa River Important Bird Area. We’ll start on the Red Cedar River adjacent to Dunnville State Wildlife Area and continue down the Chippewa River, taking out across from Nine Mile Island State Natural Area. Expect mostly flat water with a few riffles and bald eagles soaring overhead.

Bring shoes that can get wet, sunscreen and/or protective wear, sunglasses, (or rain-gear if that’s in the forecast), bug repellent (just in case), water bottle and snacks, a secure dry bag for anything you don’t want to get wet, a change of clothes if you feel that’s a possibility, and your sense of fun and adventure!

Leader: Anne Geraghty – Limit 14 Participants

Start time:

7:00 am if you’d like to bird in the launch area on foot first. Bring binoculars!

8:00 am if you have your own boat and would like to shuttle your car down to Durand after unloading.

8:45-ish if you will already have a car in Durand.

Link to parking in Durand:

Bring your own boat (canoe or kayak)

If you do not have your own boat, rentals should be arranged in advance through the Corral Bar in Durand.   (715) 672-8819

Questions/assistance email:

Directions:From Menomonie, travel south on State Highway 25 – stay on Hwy 25 past Downsville for another 4 miles. Turn east on County Highway Y. Travel for 3 miles, descending into the Red Cedar River Valley.  Meet at the boat landing on the southwest side of the bridge that crosses the Red Cedar River.  There is plenty of parking.

Link to map:

10:00 am

Beginning Birders (Hoffman Hills) – 2 Hours

Join Robin Maercklein, biologist, ornithologist and lifelong birder, as we explore the basics of birding. This field trip will help you to understand the basics of field identification and the use of field guides in successful identification of birds. Our emphasis will be on field observation and the types of clues to identification given by a bird’s shape, posture, behavior, voice, and pattern. We will sharpen our skills on just a few of the more common bird species, so this trip is truly geared for beginners. While they may be common, they are still beautiful! If you have a favorite field guide or a favorite birding app, be sure to bring it along! Also, please bring binoculars, long sleeves, long pants, a hat, and durable walking shoes. We will meet at the Nature Festival at 10:00 AM and will head out to Hoffman Hills. Limit 10 participants.

Directions: Meet at the Memorial Student Center on the UW – Stout campus

Explore Our Watershed via Pontoon Boat Rides – Lake Menomin – 2 hours

Elizabeth Usborne is the President of Tainter Menomin Lake Improvement Association and is a Watershed Technician for St. Croix County. She and other “captains” will take you on a pontoon boat tour of Lake Menomin, focusing on the
health of the watershed. Before the ride, you will see a 3D watershed model that demonstrates the link between land use and water quality, highlighting examples of good fish habitat, Wolske and Butches Bays dredging efforts, locations where storm drains empty into Lake Menomin, shoreline management examples (mowing to the water line at Wakanda Park, native planting at the Library, forested around the cemetery, etc.), and some history discussing the dams and the old fish hatcheries at Lakeside and Menomin Parks. ( 3D modelling is a mapping method which integrates local spatial knowledge with data on elevation of the land and depth of the waters to produce stand-alone, scaled and geo-referenced relief

The boat tour launches from Point Comfort Park. Vests will be provided for everyone.

Leader: Liz Usborne Limit 12
Link to map:
Link to Tainter Menomonie Lake Improvement Association website:

12:00 pm

Discover the Red Cedar Trail – Hike for Kids & Families (Red Cedar State Trail)

What do deer hear? Where do hummingbirds hide? Take a hike along the Red Cedar River and learn about some of the cool creatures that share your backyard! On this short children’s walk, we’ll look for common Wisconsin wildlife, as well as the tracks and signs they leave behind. And we’ll find out what we can learn by being careful observers of nature. Meet at the Parking Lot for the Red Cedar Trail in Irvington (5 miles south of Menomonie) Leaders: Julie and Adam Beston.

Link to map:

1:00 pm

Dragonflies and Damselflies of Wisconsin (Hoffman Hills Recreation Area) – 2 hours 

Join the President of the Wisconsin Dragonfly Society on the and ponds looking for insects of the genus Odonata. We will find the acrobatic flying adults, and also search for the mysterious and fascinating nymphs in the ponds. We will learn about what makes this group special among its insect cousins. We will discuss the different survival strategies, habitat requirements, and what these remarkable insects can tell us about the health of our ecosystems.

Dress for the weather, and keep in mind that your feet may get wet if you are near the ponds or would like to try and find some nymphs. If you have an aerial insect or aquatic sampling net, please bring it!

Leader: Ryan Chrouser – Limit 20 Participants

Directions: From Menomonie, East on I-94 to County Highway B
North on Cty Hwy B approximately 3/4 mile and turn right (east) on County Road E.
East on Cty Hwy E approximately 4 miles, turning left (north) on 740th Street.
North on 740th St. approximately 1.2 miles to Hoffman Hills entrance.
East (right) on 720th Ave. approximately 0.2 mile to main parking lot.

Weblink to map:

Foraging for Foods (Bjornson Environmental Site) – 2 hours

Jim Swanson is “A Man of the Woods” and has over 40 years of experience in wilderness travel. He is a part-time hunter gatherer who is able to put 50% of the food on his table without going to the grocery store. He is also an outdoor writer, editor and speaker. Join Jim and take a stroll through the woods looking for wild edibles together. We will be in the time to find the spring edibles that are fading and the summer edibles that are coming on – so hopefully we’ll find both. Jim will also point out many plants that produce wild foods in the fall. If nature smiles on us, we’ll gather and taste the foods. And prepare a meal with them.

Leader: Jim Swanson – Limit 10.

From Menomonie, take Highway 29 west (about 8 miles). Turn right on 238th Street and follow it for about 6 miles. Take 640th Avenue, about 4 miles, to the bottom of a very long hill. A sign for Bjornson Environmental Site will be on your left. You can park in on the dirt road, but please avoid parking in from to the gate.

Weblink to map:

Trout Stream Restoration – Gilbert Creek – 2 hours

Kasey Yallaly is currently a Senior Fisheries Biologist out of the Baldwin DNR office. She’s been in this position since January 2018 and has been working in fisheries management and research for the past 8 years for other state agencies including Illinois, Missouri and Idaho. Nate Anderson has been the Trout Habitat Specialist for the past 18 years out of the Eau Claire DNR office. On this field trip, we will discuss and observe the status of the pre- and post restoration in stream habitat practices, riparian restoration, DNR easement program and fish response to habitat restoration. Please bring rubber boats, potentially, to wear in the stream.

Leaders: Kasey Yallaly and Nate Anderson. No limit to number of participants.

Located just south of 29 and east of the intersection with County Hwy N.


3:00 pm

Nature Photography – Evergreen Cemetery (Menomonie) -2 hours

Mike Kolstad has taught photography for 25 years and has worked with many photographers. He is proud of his former students who have careers in photography, and posts many of his personal images on facebook. We will explore Evergreen Cemetery on Lake Menomin. Mike will present the “numbers” that the camera uses: shutter speed, f-stop, flash. The camera should be the tool to capture the image you want. We will examine landscape photography, close up images, and fill flash in daylight. He uses traditional techniques to achieve the picture that his mind “sees”. Bring your camera, and comfortable shoes. Of course extra lenses, a tripod, and/or filters are great, but you can get along without them.

Leader: Mike Kolstad – Limit 12

From downtown Menomonie, take Highway 12/29 going East (also Stout Road)
From Highway 12/29 turn left onto 13th Street. Follow 13th Street to the end of the road where
it turns into Evergreen Cemetery Road.

Weblink to map:

James Newman Clark Bird Museum Tour (UW-Eau Claire’s Phillips Hall) – 1 1/2 hours

James Newman Clark Bird Museum

The James Newman Clark Bird Museum is a circular collection housed in the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire’s Phillips Science Hall. It features the mounted skins of hundreds of bird species collected by Clark in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, including 3 Passenger Pigeons. In 2010, the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire decided to “freshen” the exhibits.

Steve Betchkal, who helped plan the changes will lead the tour. Limit 15 participants

101 Roosevelt, Eau Claire

Eau Claire and I-94 from the west:
Exit Interstate 94 at Hwy. 37 (exit #65) and turn right. Continue until you reach Clairemont Ave. (Hwy. 12) and turn right onto Clairemont. Turn right on Patton Street. Take a quick right onto
Lexington Blvd. Turn right on State Street (down hill). Turn left on Roosevelt Ave. (at bottom of hill). Go one block and the Visitor Center will be on your left. Phillips Hall will be beyond the Visitor Center, just around the bend on the right. Find Steve at the front of the Phillips Science Hall on the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Campus.

Eau Claire and I-94 from the east:
Exits Interstate 94 at Hwy. 53 (exit #70) and follow Hwy. 53 north. Take exit #87 off off Why 53 onto Clairemont Ave. (Hwy. 13) and turn left (to head west). Turn left on Patton Street. Take a quick right onto Lexington Blvd. Turn right on State Street (down hill). Turn left on Roosevelt Ave. (at bottom of hill). Go one block and the Visitor Center will be on your left. Phillips Hall will be beyond the Visitor Center, just around the bend on the right. Find Steve at the front of the Phillips Science Hall on the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Campus.

Weblink go map:

Crystal Cave Bat Program and Guided Cave Tour (Spring Valley, WI) – 2 hours + Travel Time

Crystal Cave Bat Program

Discover the wonders of Crystal Cave during this two-hour special event. We will explore the passages more than 70 feet
below ground and learn about the history, geology, and bats of Wisconsin’s longest cave! First, we will kick-off the event with a bat program, put on by the naturalists of Crystal Cave. The program will include information about the 4 species of bat that hibernate in the cave, there will be time for questions at the end. Afterwards, we will embark on our cave adventure. For the one-hour guided tour underground, we recommend you wear long pants, sturdy shoes, and a
sweater or light jacket in the cave but you can still enjoy the cave without a jacket or sweater, however it is 50 ° F in the cave, so plan accordingly.

Leaders: Eric McMaster and Hannah Lieffring

If you’d like to arrive early, there is the Sinkhole Nature Trail free to the public that encompasses a ½ mile hike through our secondary growth forest. Be sure to be back in time for the Bat Program that will begin at 3!

Limit: No limit in participants. If there are over 20 participants, the group will be split up into smaller groups for the underground portion of the program.

Crystal Cave
W965 State Rd 29
Spring Valley WI 54767

From Eau Claire or Menomonie to Spring Valley
Take Interstate 94 (I94) west to Exit 28 (Spring Valley). Turn south (left) onto Highway 128. Go five miles south to Highway 29. Turn right on Highway 29, following the signs to Spring Valley. Continue west on Highway 29 past Spring Valley for one more mile. Crystal Cave is on the left side of the highway.

Link to map:

6:00 pm

BIRD BOWL with host, Steve Betchkal


( DUKE and DAGGER – 120 6th Avenue West, Menomonie)

Did you enjoy the active field trips? By now, you’ve discovered that birds are fascinating — there’s so much to learn and love about them!

To round out your outdoor experiences, we are inviting you back indoors where Steve Betchkal will host “BIRD BOWL” – a competitive game of bird trivia. Participants are welcome to form teams, or go it alone in learning about birds.

Enjoy food and beverages (available for purchase), more games, and socializing. And there will be prizes!

Weblink for map:

Sunday, June 2, 2019

7:00 – 11:00 am

Tiffany Bottoms Bird and Plant Tour by Rail, Durand, 4 Hours

Tiffany Bottoms Train Ride

Leaders : Steve Betchkal, Kathy Ruggles and Dave Linderud

The Tiffany Bottoms — just 25 minutes south of Menomonie — is a forested and wild place. There are three ways to get to know it intimately: by foot, by boat, or via the Chippewa Valley Motor Car Association. We are offering “first class” seating as we explore the Lower Chippewa Important Bird Area by rail. Guided by wildlife biologist Dave Linderud and ornithologist (AKA bird expert) Steve Betchkal, the trip will explore the natural habitat of the Bald Eagle, Blandings Turtle, Massassaga Rattlesnake, Red-shouldered Hawk, and the Prothonotary Warbler. There may also be spring wildflowers! The Tiffany Wildlife Area is a must see enjoying the wilderness of Western Wisconsin in all its spring splendor. Remember to bring along water, snacks, insect repellent, sunscreen, binocular, and field guides — and wear appropriate footwear and field

Leaders: Dave Linderud, Steve Betchkal, and Kathy Ruggles. Limit 60

(Extra fee: $20 with weekend registration. Sunday only: Early bird $30, Regular $35 per person)

Video available:

Directions: The parking area is on State Hwy. 25 about 4 miles south of Durand. Parking will be on the right (west side) across from Thibodeau Road. There will be yellow signs about 200 yards from the parking area along the right of way stating “CAUTION AHEAD – CARS TURNING”. Crossing guards on the shoulder of the road will help guide cars into the parking lot.

Drive into the lot, go down a small hill and turn right. Some cars will park in the lot and others may have to go through the gate and up the road into the field. Park on the left side of the road in the mowed area of the field. Day of the trip ONLY – if you are lost, the trip leader can be reached at: 715-495-1104

Weblink to map: