Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve: Hikes, prowls and adventures

With fall fast approaching, birds including terns and sandhill cranes are beginning their journey southward. Appleton’s Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve, however, is launching their first year of fall hikes, where the public can discover species that have decided to brave the Wisconsin winter.

Bird hikes are set for Sept. 16, 23 and 30, from 8 to 10 a.m.

“A lot of finches are still around, along with warbles, cranes, great blue herons and green herons,” says Courtney Osenroth, program coordinator and naturalist.

People can view these birds with their own equipment or binoculars provided by the nature preserve. Attendees should expect to see species that will inhabit Wisconsin into the fall, as well as those passing through on their way south.

Fall bird hikes are free to the public — with no preregistration necessary — and led by Marc Leitermann, a long-time volunteer and instructor at the nature preserve.

Three additional hikes in the fall include a bat hike on Sept. 20 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., an “Owl Prowl” hike on Oct. 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. and a night hike on Oct. 17, beginning at 7 p.m.

The Owl Prowl hike should draw many visitors. “We are mainly going to focus on our great horned owl (during the owl hike), and one of the volunteers is bringing one of her own,” says Osenroth.

Ann and Fran

Volunteer Ann Rosenberg’s owl, Fran (pictured above), should be a main attraction for those who have never witnessed an owl in person.

Individuals will be introduced to the common owls of Wisconsin in a short presentation, before venturing into the night to listen for owls and practice their calls.

Finally, the bat and night hikes will help participants practice listening for animals in the dark. This is certainly a skill, adding to the educational experience at Bubolz Nature Preserve.

While the night hike is a much more independent discovery, Jamie Kozloski, an area bat educator, will teach participants about bat ecology and species occupying the nature preserve. Then participants can search and listen for bats during a short hike.

“The hikes are educational and family friendly — designed to get people outside of the preserve in a different way,” says Osenroth.

This opportunity to connect with nature before a long winter is something Wisconsinites will not want to pass up.

For information on all fall hikes, visit

— By Reid Trier

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