Common Muskrat, Mississippi River, Goose Island County Park, Wisconsin

Many things that happen in the outdoors here have to do with the Mississippi River, one way or the other, and I will continue writing my little stories from and about the big river in 2016. Today I had a meeting with a customer in La Crosse, Wisconsin and the drive up north, mostly just parallel to the Mississippi, is one of my favorite routes. It doesn’t matter if you drive on the Iowa / Minnesota side or east on the Wisconsin side of the river, the landscape is beautiful and there is always something interesting to see. I was not surprised to see many long stretches of open water already, although there are still parts of the river covered with ice. The winter was mild so far.

All images: Nikon D750, Sigma 150-600mm / f5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens,

On my way back to the Dubuque area I stopped at Goose Island County Park, located just south of La Crosse, WI. This park with campsites, boat ramps, and other tourist amenities is probably busy in the summer but today I saw only a few fishermen and bird watchers.

I had the camera already in my lap when I discovered this Common Muskrat getting in and out of the water. Their dense, glossy winter fur is just gorgeous. This one used the ice floats as a feeding platform and was chewing on aquatic plants. The backwaters of the Mississippi, with its marshlands and water arms between countless little islands, are an ideal habitat for these large rodents.