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These spectacular photographs by Mike Bailey exemplify what is so unique about the Preserve: a natural area in an urban setting that abounds with a diversity of delights for its visitors. The Preserve is a favorite of area birders and photographers. Enjoy these photographs of a Baltimore Oriole near the community gardens, just after it launched from a perch, carrying food, and probably on the way back to a nest with young; the Prothonotary warbler at the Picnic Point Pond marsh; a pair of red-bellied Woodpeckers working on a huge dead tree in Bill's Woods, and a curious Yellow Warbler looking backward at Mike's camera. Thank you, Mike, for sharing these photographs with the Friends.
After the sky blues, pale yellows and fragrant white of the lupines, golden alexanders, and white baptisias of spring, the prairie is now erupting with the colors of summer: Bright yellows of Oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), brilliant orange of Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberose), deep purple of Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), magenta of Pale purple coneflowers (Echinacea pallida), the saturated white of Wild quinine (Parthenium intgrifolium). Come and see and enjoy the colors, the butterflies and the birds and insects living of the abundance of the prairie.
Much to the joy of the Friends and Purple Martins house monitors, 2 pairs of martins have found and moved into the Purple Martin house, which was installed on top of the Biocore Prairie just this April. Martins were first seen investigating the house by monitor Janis Cooper on June 9. Only two weeks later we have the following most exciting report by monitor Chuck Henrikson. To follow the news on the house, click here.
Chuck reports; "I visited the PUMA [short for Purple Martins] house today, June 21, 2017, from 11:00 – 12:15. When I arrived all 4 PUMAs were out flying around not far from the house. When I got close to the house they seemed agitated at first and made lots of vocalizations but after a couple minutes they became accustomed to my presence and quieted down. I brought down the house and checked the open Apts. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7). Apt. 4 had a nice nest, mostly of long grasses, but no eggs. Apt. 5 had a nice nest with 5 white eggs in it. Apts. 2, 3, 6 & 7 had a few starter pine needles in each put there by one or more of our group but no signs of PUMA or other bird species’ activities. I took photos of the nests in Apts. 4 & 5. After about 15 minutes I returned the house to its normal position. The whole time I had the house down the PUMAs flew nearby vocalizing. Once the house was up the PUMAs became quiet and returned to the house. Wow, 5 eggs, what a great start!
A male House Sparrow came to the house twice while I was there but really did nothing."
Mike Bailey enjoyed his time at the Picnic Point marsh, photographing the resident Prothonotary warblers. As well, the warblers enjoyed the beautiful day, preening and singing, oblivious to the people on the path nearby and remaining perched on the same branch to be photographed.
As every summer, Prairie Partner Interns sponsored by the Friends are working in the Preserve for 8 weeks. On the photo, Seth McGee, the Biocore Lab Manager who spends his summers working in restoration ecology at the Biocore Prairie, explained to the Intern crew the Biocore Prairie as a living laboratory, talked about the evolution of the grassland ecosystem and included some hands-on botany/plant ID work with them. The interns are Alex Gall, wildlife ecology major from UW-Stevens Point, Caleb Burst, zoology major from UW-Madison, Kaitlyn Kozak, studying wildlife ecology - research & management at UW-Stevens Point, Krista Farrell, majoring in landscape architecture at UW-Madison, and Emily Jorgensen, majoring in environmental studies at UW-Madison. This year, the Interns spend one day each week at one of the five Prairie Partners lands, including these sponsors: Friends of the Lakeshore Preserve, Madison Audubon Society at Goose Pond, Friends of Pope Farm Conservancy, Friends of Pheasant Branch, and Natural Heritage Lanstrust at West Port Drumlin and Patrick Marsh Wildlife area. In addition to working hard at these locations, the interns benefit from educational and training programs, including learning about wetland ecology, vegetation survey designing, prescribed fires and the UW Urban Canid project, as well as caring for mounds built by the native peoples, visiting the Aldo Leopold shack and other opportunities. Past interns have emphasized the great value of working in different locations and with different supervising staff. Here at the Preserve they work under the direction of Adam Gundlach, the Preserve's field projects coordinator. In the Biocore Prairie photograph by Bryn Sciver, Baptisia alba blooming abundantly in the foreground.
Mike Bailey has been birding in the Preserve for many years. Not only that, he has also spent much time observing birds in their natural habitats and capturing their unique behaviors in photographs. On his Blog, Elemental Landscapes, you can see more of his work, each photo presenting a small piece of our natural world in all its infinite detail. Mike regularly visits many birding sites in the Madison area. His observations in the Preserve are recorded on eBird, often with photographs. Enjoy these three birds observed this spring: 1) The Orange-crowned Warbler near Frautschi Point parking lot. It's unusual, Mike says, to be able to see the color in its crown. 2) The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher seen at the Picnic Point marsh, a moment before it snatched the bug out of the air. 3) The Green Heron at Picnic Point marsh, walking slowly down a tree at its hunt. We look forward to more photos from Mike. Please comment on any of our blog entries, if you would like to add anything.
Linda Deith has a new camera. We surprised her on one of her strolls trying out her fun toy, and were so pleased when she referred us to her photos on her Flicker site and told this story, illustrated by her photos below: "I've been enjoying spending time in the Preserve the past few days. With my camera and binoculars strapped on, I find I see more than when I leave them behind. Although not always—the pictures of the hawk are somewhat amusing when it launched itself into the air. There is the crisp shot of it raising its wings for flight, then three hopelessly blurry pictures of it flying towards me. Happily, I pulled my camera away from my face in time to watch it swoop past, perhaps 10 feet away and just above eye level. The great-horned owl, spotted courtesy a mob of crows, made me laugh when I looked at it through binoculars. How could you not, between its feathered “horns” being blown forward by the wind and that intense no-nonsense look in its eyes."
On Saturday April 9 the University contracted Quercus Land Stewardship Services to do prescribed burning in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Their crew, plus Adam Gundlach from the University Preserve staff and several volunteers, including Steve Sentoff and Seth Mcgee, burned nearly 25 acres. Seth reported that the burn crew was the largest he has worked on - it was a productive day. Burns were conducted in Eagle Heights Woods, the Biocore Prairie, Picnic Point and the Willow Creek Savanna. The video, filmed by Steve, shows the fire creeping through the oak leaf litter in Eagle Heights Woods. The photo below, by Seth, shows the burn at the Willow Creek mound savanna area.
Many of you have read this January that the beautiful Rusted-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) has been declared a rare species. Its habitat has shrunk from covering the entire northeast of the country to just patches in Virginia, Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.
You will be glad to know that the Preserve is one of these fortunate places that this bumble calls its home. View the summary of the July 20, (2014) field trip led by Susan Carpenter, member of the Friends and native bee specialist at the Arboretum. The Rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) was seen and photographed that day and other days. Glenda Denniston had her photographs confirmed by Rich Hatfield of the Xerces Society in Madison. These bees, Susan says, "have been documented in the Preserve in (July) surveys in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. These are photo records. My former student Emily Greinwald did more extensive surveys for her Preserve project in summer 2015."
As Susan Carpenter says in her UWMADSCIENCE interview on these special bees in the Arboretum, "In a way the endangered species designation is a stroke of good fortune. Only the female rusty-patched queens-to-be survive the winter, already mated with male bees before they began their hibernation. They will emerge in mid to late April to start new colonies in a world that is now far more aware of their (albeit reduced) presence. Some of us will be out there to spot and admire them in the Biocore Prairie.
Do not miss watching the award winning movie by Clay Bolt, A Ghost in the Making. which features his visit with Susan Carpenter and Rich Hatfield at the Arboretum.
I'm passionate about the Preserve. Gisela Kutzbach and contributors