Friends in the news and Friends events - 2016
Bird and Nature Walk - A Holiday Hike on December 25
Over 30 people including a number of students, families and kids joined the 'Holiday Hike' Bird and Nature Walk on Sunday Dec 25 at the UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve to celebrate nature's gifts and our gifts to nature. Naturalist Paul Noeldner shared stories and facts about the successful recovery of the endangered Trumpeter Swan, our largest native waterfowl with an amazing 8 foot wingspan, from only 69 known birds in North America in 1935, to an estimated 42,000 today.
Trumpeters and their cousins the Tundra Swan fly like Santa all the way from near the Arctic Circle around this time of year. After stopping in Wisconsin and nearby states, they turn east to over-winter along the Atlantic coast. At the old beach house, several people using a high powered scope spotted what looked like a couple of Trumpeters in the mix, notable for their larger size, longer necks and narrow black bill wedges to the eyes with no yellow lores. However, those patterns can vary, and we did not hear any diagnostic Trumpeter calls, so ID can be tricky.
The group stopped for a welcome campfire and hot chocolate halfway out Picnic Point that helped keep away the not-so-bad-after-all wind and drizzle, and everyone eagerly resumed the hike. Hundreds of beautiful Tundra Swans rewarded them for their persistence with a cacophony of low squeeky-toy sounding honks. Looking almost like piled snowdrifts, Tundra Swans and other waterfowl lined the edge of the newly icebound Lake Mendota shoreline along University Bay and all the way around to Frautschi Point Bay.
Other birds included lots of Common Merganzers, Coots, Mallards, Canvasbacks, Ring-billed Gulls, Crows, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Flicker and a Coopers Hawk. Bald Eagles were not spotted but were undoubtedly present with reports of groups of 5 and 6 the day before in the general area. We were honored to have long time environmental advocate Spencer Black join the group. And special thanks to Barb Noeldner for assisting Paul.
Bird and Nature Walk - November 27
Fil Sanna, a National Outdoor Leadership School instructor, led 30 visitors including children and a dozen UW Ornithology students on that brisk day to the Picnic Point outlook and back. He shared nature readings and poems, which were supplemented by some of the participants. Everyone enjoyed hot chocolate around the campfire after the walk.
Geologic History of the Preserve and Madison Lakes - November 13
Exploring Past and Present History of the Preserve - October 30
On this crisp and cloudy Sunday, with late fall colors spreading their warm glows, Steve Laubach, Arboretum Education Specialist, led a group of nature and bird enthusiasts on a cultural and educational hike. Starting at Frautschi Point, after admiring the gnarly catalpa tree at the entrance covered with its stringy seedpods, we walked to Frautschi Point, listening to stories about the tent colony, the Gallistel House and Reginald Jackson seven gable manor house, now all dismantled. But Jackson’s favorite dog’s grave in the woods, remnants of his duck blind, once complete with stove to keep the hunters warm, and the Frautschi Point fireplace, as well as decorative tress planted by Jackson, continue to remind us of the past. While watching and identifying birds and trees on the way, Steve explained their significance in the forest ecosystem. He also wove in the significance of emerging management practices such a reduction of phosphor run-off into the lake from agricultural fields north of the lake, the use of the restorative power of fire, and the use of wildlife cameras for monitoring wildlife.
The group was rewarded by unexpected sightings of a wonderful selection of birds, from the cardinal to the red-bellied and downy woodpeckers, to the enormous pileated woodpecker, northern flickers and red-tailed hawk pair, to the haunting call of the loon heard in the woods, and then sighted at its usual place over the sand bar off Frautschi Point, as well as the crested cormorant. The high point came with a bald eagle sweeping incredibly low over the cathedral canopy of the red oaks along the lakeshore path. Thank you Steve. Photos G. Kutzbach
Fall Colors in the Preserve - October 16
On this warm and cloudy Sunday, but with a hint of sunshine, Laura Wyatt, Preserve Program Manager, guided more than 20 eager hikers through Frautschi woods to the lake shore, and on a circle loop toward the Biocore and back again past Big Oak to the parking lot. We were surprised about the wide variety of trees in this area, from red oaks that grew up in the open before the settlers came to the European spruce that makes those cuckoo-clock-weight shaped cones. Norway spruce, red and white pine, and cedar were mingling within an area of only a few yards diameter. Along the lake and up to the Biocore we walked under the magnificent canopies of white oaks and bur oaks with their rounded leaves and red oak and black oaks with their pointy leaves. These oaks were not planted, displaying magnificent root flares which point the roots at a shallow angle into the ground to spread and tie down the trees.
Trees don’t just leaf out when there is a warm day in early March, rather they follow precise ‘regulation’ by way of chilling units. A sugar maple needs only 200 chilling units before its sap starts to rise, oaks and others are more careful and have longer chilling requirements. Most vulnerable to sudden cold spells are flower buds, then leaf buds, roots, and the tree trunk. In fall, as the chrorophyl in leaves starts to break down, the yellow (xanthophyll), orange (carotene), and red/purple (anthocyanin) pigments in leaves become visible. The coloration depends on the formation of sugars and starches in the leaves, and the colors become more vibrant with cold nights, more sun and not too much moisture. Brown colors are associated with tannins. Transplanting trees is best when they are still small. They will soon catch up and grow in leaps and bounds, even an oak. Laura showed us along the savanna edge how the branches of a bur oak planted by Glenda Denniston in 2006 grew almost a yard in two years. Visitors, Friends, and students (of the “Living with Wildlife” class) gained a new appreciation for the treasures of trees in the Preserve. Photos Gisela Kutzbach
Friends Picnic Celebration and Nature walk - September 25
The picnic and nature walks were on – rain or shine. The forecast was 60/40 – yeah. At Picnic Point entrance Paul Noeldner played his euphonium to spread cheer. Sarah Goldenberg and John Kutzbach helped with greeting people. Patrick Noyes helped with Paul’s elaborate set-up, which included numerous posters and two pop-up canopies for the entrance and the fire circle, in case of rain. The fire circle crew used radio flyers to haul tables and chairs, poster exhibits and easels, food and water, blankets, fire pokers, children games and more. Doris and Dick Dubielzig, with their visiting intern Taryn Overton brought all the food, Gisela Kutzbach brought exhibits, handouts, games and chairs, Sue Denholm brought refreshments and games, and Seth McGee and his family took care of the wood fire and roasted the hotdogs and marshmallows, Pat Becker and Galen Hasler helped everywhere, Chuck Hendrickson and Paul guided the two nature walk groups. Yun-wen Chan helped with bird bingo. All in all a formidable effort and much fun for everyone involved.
The sneaky spoiler was a sudden cloudburst lasting for 10 minutes. But everyone at the fire circle, including our visitors found shelter under the canopy, and people on the nature walks found protection under the roof of the bathhouse. Soon enough the sun came out again, and Seth revived the fire and continued his expert roasting. The adventurous people who braved the weather forecast to visit the Preserve enjoyed the walks and their stops at the Friends picnic. An estimated 45-50 people joined us, over 25 for the two nature walks. We are planning a repeat for next September. The weather will surely be better.
Pleasure Bike Ride through the Lakeshore Preserve - September 18
Jeff and Arlene Koziol made it a fun day. Arlene photographed and Jeff took to his bike. Here is their account in images and words.
Jeff recalls: "What a fun afternoon ! Daniel Einstein led a enjoyable, relaxed, sun filled, two hour bike ride on the Lakeshore path. We met at the Willow Creek bridge and finished at the wooden bridge in Shorewood Hills. Twenty-plus riders took part. Dan is a fountain of knowledge. When we stopped at Picnic Point, Dan told the most amazing story. All of the Picnic Point area to University bay in the 1920’s was owned by Edward Young, a wealthy lumberman. He had built a large mansion, horse stables, riding trails and the stone wall at the entrance that still remains. He had plans to build a race track and expand the horse stables. These plans fell apart when the 1929 market crash occurred. Who said the depression was all bad? In 1935 the family house burned down, and the Picnic Point area sold to the university . The Young family moved down the road. Dan talked about the effigy mounds, ancient peoples, tent colony, the rest of Preserve land acquisitions, Shorewood Hills bridge, 500 generations of people living in this area, and so much more. You have to join him on his next tour!"
To see all of Arlene's 43 photos of this field trip, click on here for her Flickr album.
Fall Birding in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve - September 3
It was a GOOD morning for birding: sunny skies with a few tufty white clouds, temperatures in the 70s, light wind, plenty of bugs for warblers and other insect eaters. A group of avid birders had come together to spot the early migrants with Roma Lenehan, our expert leader. Susan Slapnick kept track of the birds, and Marty Evanson, partnering with Roma on many birding trips in the Preserve, helped with identifying the fast moving birds way up in the canopy by appearance, behavior and song. Most welcome was the beautiful call of the Carolina Wren. All in all the group identified 50 species, some of them only by their call, on their two-hour walk with many stops, winding through Frautschi woods, along the Prairie and into the Community gardens. Photos Kutzbach.
A Sensory Visit to the Preserve- August 7
Birding and Nature Walk with Sean Gere- July 24
Sean Gere, certified arborist and owner of Gere Tree Care, led the Sunday, July 24th afternoon field trip at Picnic Point. Doris Dubielzig reports: Despite temperatures rising above 90 degrees, 15 people came to join him on the free tour and to learn about the trees in the Preserve. Passionate about trees since he was a child, Gere demonstrated the leaf attachment and characteristic appearances of highbush cranberry (Viburnum); gray dogwood; American and gray elms; sugar, silver and Norway maples; mulberry; green ash; black walnut; red pine; sumac; black cherry; and hackberry. We sampled mulberry and sumac fruits, and inhaled the fragrance of black walnut leaflets. Gere’s extensive knowledge of tree habitat, distribution and diseases was supplemented with nature observations by the attendees. Paul Noeldner shared binoculars, water bottles and Preserve maps with the newcomers on the tour, and showed how tree-shaded areas on the Point were at least 10 degrees cooler than adjacent sunny parts. Mark Wolff spotted downy woodpeckers and identified American toads. At the close of the tour, Sean Gere and friends went for a swim at Picnic Point Beach. What a nice field trip it was. Sean didn't disappoint the little 4-year old boy who came to "see the forest".
Groundwater Resources of the Preserve- July 10
How does the Preserve contribute to our city’s groundwater? What is the quality of our groundwater? Questions like these came up in yesterday’s informative fieldtrip on the hydrology of the Preserve, led by Wisconsin Geological natural History Survey hydrogeologist and Board member Mike Parsen, and assisted by the Madison Water Utility's Joe DeMorett, City Water Supply Manager, and Marie Van Aarten, Water Quality Specialist. After Mike explained the hydrological cycle of the University Bay and the Picnic Point area, he took us first to the low-capacity Well #2 behind the bathhouse, which pumps 0-200ga/day and is used on site. Then Joe and Marie led us to the high-capacity City of Madison municipal Well #19 at the top of the hill near the Frautschi Point parking lot and gave the attentive group of 16 a tour of the facility. Well #19 pumps at a rate of 2,200 ga/min, serving the University of Wisconsin, the VA hospital and Shorewood Hills. The water is pumped up from the deep bedrock aquifer system more than 700 feet below the surface. This deep groundwater, which accumulates in the Mount Simon sandstone aquifer resting on the Precambrian crystalline basement rock, is excellent for drinking. This aquifer is protected from pollutants by the less permeable Eau Claire shale above it. Water conservation is helping to maintain this aquifer. After pumpage in Madison rose steadily over the second half of the 20th Century, it is now back to levels of 1969. Way to go, Madisonians! Learn more in Mike Parsen's newsletter article winter 2015. Photos Gisela Kutzbach
Spring planting with the Friends - May 22
What a wonderful Volunteer Day it was - planting wild flowers in the Preserve for the many visitors and all of us to enjoy in future years. A very big thank you to all of you who made room for the planting in our busy schedules, especially this time of the year. We started out with a long row of seedling trays, but in the end only a few were left. Now let’s hope for a good rain, so nature can do the rest and make our planting grow.
Glenda Denniston had seeded trays and trays in winter, in the greenhouse, and then transplanted the seedlings into larger pots in trays, as soon as they could be handled. The species ranged from spring flowers to mints, hyssops, asters, and zig zag goldenrods blooming in summer and fall. Bryn Scriver, Preserve volunteer coordinator, brought in a selection of beautiful plants flowering from the Nursery, even some bare root wild strawberries. View the complete list. The photos tell the story of this beautiful, warm May day at Frautschi Point. There was also lots of visiting and sharing stories, as well as refreshments. Volunteering is fun. Photos Glenda Denniston, John Kutzbach and Peter Fisher.
Garlic Mustard pull with the Friends - May 14
The timing was right – for pulling Garlic Mustard at its highest, almost waist high, blooming, and quite pretty in its large stands. This was a cool morning after another overnight rain, making it easy to pull the large plants. Roma Lenehan led about 15 volunteers past Big Oak to the narrow Frautschi Point cut-off trail. She paired us up into seven groups along the trail, equipped us with trowels and two big black bags each, and let us loose to clear the area, westward. Bryn Scriver of the Preserve staff helped coordinate. After an hour or so Doris Dubielzig, commented that pulling this invasive is “addictive”, and she and Janis Cooper even offered to continue next weekend. In the end, we had to haul 50 bags exactly to the main path, which is more than 4 bags pulled by each volunteer in less than two hours. Is this a record? Afterwards, we pampered ourselves with still warm Garlic Mustard quiche, coffee, strawberries and cookies. Plan to join us next year. This is a fun event, believe it! Photos G. Kutzbach and Bryn Scriver
Warblers of Frautschi Point - May 11
After an .85” rainfall measured in our Shorewood rain gauge for the last 24 hours, the woods at Frautschi Point this morning were misty and moist, perhaps like in a temperate rainforest, hardly a breeze, soothing air – perfect weather, it was apparent, for warblers and their allies to forage for insects high in the trees and everywhere. Susan Slapnick recounts, “The birds fell out of the sky, singing and chattering everywhere. We were delighted and felt lucky to be a witness to the magic. Over twenty warbler species?”
Roma Lenehan, who led this remarkable Birding field trip, told us that often you see one (1) bird of a species on a walk, but our group of intrepids, disregarding the weather forecast made for people rather than birds, saw entire flocks of Tennessee warblers, entering the trees from the Biocore. We tried to track a dozen or so Rose breasted grosbeaks flittering from tree to tree at the entrance and heard them sing their “sweet” robin song. We listened to the “hoarse” robin song of the Baltimore oriole, and Roma also spotted a Scarlet tanager, the newest arrival from down south. We saw American redstarts feasting in the underbrush, taking time here and there to tsee tsee tsee tzirr their songs.
It seems like we saw the entire slate of warblers commonly seen in the Preserve in May, including the rarer Mourning warbler. They tended to be high up in the trees, seeking out the buds of oak leaves that host large amounts of insects. Roma spotted the elusive Prothonotary warbler, taking off from a shore tree toward the Picnic Point pond marsh. We seemed to hear more than a dozen Ovenbirds crying “teacher, teacher”. Roma reported that they nest all over Wisconsin, but unfortunately on the ground, and so many are not very successful in southern Wisconsin. We gave due respect to the Red-eyed vireo, who sings all day long, perhaps to make up for its non-distinct appearance. We saw the Great-crested flycatcher, the one flycatcher in the Preserve that nest only in wood cavities. The Barred owl was calling from the distance. Susan Slapnick, who knows every bird call and so doesn’t even have to see them to call out their names, recorded it all. Roma was the last of the group to leave the magic of this morning at Frautschi Point. Thank you Roma and Susan, for a wonderful treat. Photos G. Kutzbach
Frautschi Point Mothers Day Wildflower Field Trip - May 8
"Mother’s Day 2016 provided a perfect backdrop for a wildflower field trip at Frautschi Point. As always," Peter Fisher of the Friends reports, "field trip leader Glenda Denniston lent her extensive expertise on the history of the Preserve and the flora that she has tirelessly promoted there over the years. We wound through wooded trails and enjoyed identifying the new spring growth – from Bloodroot to Wild Violet. The group was treated to some wonderful newly arrived spring birds such as orioles and warblers as we walked along the transition between the Biocore Prairie and the Eagle Heights Community Gardens, and even spotted an owl in the canopy above the woods. We also saw a deer foraging in the woods in the early morning. The Preserve was alive with so many families taking advantage of the beautiful weather." Photos by Peter Fisher.
Nelson Institute Earth Conference - April 25
Bird and Nature Walk - April 24
Spring Returns to the Preserve! Temperatures in the 70s rewarded about 15 nature lovers who braved the threat of rain to join UW Arboretum Naturalist Steve Laubach on the April 24 Sunday Bird and Nature Walk at the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Steve entertained and enlightened the group with an educational tour of some of the ecological and historical highlights. The Native American effigy mounds and restored woodland areas where invasive Honeysuckle and Buckthorn have been removed were flourishing with displays of beautiful Spring ephemerals native to Wisconsin like Toothwort, Trout Lily, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Solomon’s Seal, May Apple and Trillium. Earth Day was honored by stopping to pull some small patches of invasive Garlic Mustard that had cropped up along well traveled trails. Some participants enjoyed doing Bird Bingo along the way, spotting and checking off birds, tree leaves, moss and other clues to win plastic bugs and rubber ducky prizes back at the docent table. The group also learned about resident owl species and enjoyed watching a Red-bellied Woodpecker pair coming and going at their nest cavity high in a tree. Photos Paul Noeldner.
Earth at Eagle Heights Community Center - April 23
As in previous years, the Friends added to the Earth Day festival at Eagle Heights Community Center. Most certainly over 200 families enjoyed this popular event. UW housing provided scrumptious food, like strawberry parfait, fruit, bagels, and lemonade, and a local Bicycle provided free safety instructions, helmet checks, and bicycle tune-ups. The event ended with a huge ruffle give away. In between these activities the 3rd and 4th graders loved the challenge of our Preserve Trivia game that we normally offer to students. They were very good at guessing the deepest point in Lake Mendota (80 feet). Not everyone could explain the role of fungi in the Preserve, but everyone knew, from a list of 12 animals, which of them don't live in the Preserve. They also knew about the glacial origin of the many big boulders. But the favorite was our mystery box - you reach in with your arm and hand without being able to look inside and guess what you feel - such as a hickory nut or its shell, or an acorn cup. Of course they were hoping for bones and such. Some taught their parent what they had learned. Adults were interested in field trips, and people told me of their enjoyable walks in the Preserve. Photos Gisela Kutzbach
Over 20 people, including 2 families, joined Carolyn Byers, educational director at Madison Audubon Society, and her husband BJ Byers on this evening trip, designed especially for birders looking to grow their skills. It was a magical evening with a fiery sunset over the western horizon bathing Picnic Point in gorgeous reds, and then dusk falling over Biocore Prairie, quieting the birders voices as they strained to hear owls.
Carolyn made bird watching fun and educational. Everyone will remember her story about Brown-headed cowbirds, who used to follow herds of bison before the white settlers arrived. The bisons didn’t stay in one place long enough for the cow (bison) birds to build their own nests. So these birds would drop an egg at a time into some other bird’s nest, and in turn remove an egg already in the nest – for most birds can count. The cowbirds would even watch, if there was time, that the nest mother would take care of their chick and if not, they would simply destroy the nest. Wow!
And who would have known it – Red-winged blackbirds can be monogamous or polygamous, depending on the quality of the habitat. If conditions are favorable, the male can afford to have several wives and even helps with caring for the nestlings of all of them. But if food is scarcer, he will be happy with just one wife. Here in the University Bay we saw Red-winged blackbirds very close to each other perched on the cat tails tops and gurgling and rattling off their harsh territorial messages – a relatively dense population indicating good habitat and many wives. On the trail, aside from looking for birds, we also stopped to admire trout lily and Dutchman’ s breeches in full bloom. At the vernal pond near the narrows we were greeted by a loud chorus of American toads enjoying the balmy evening and a few deep croaks of Leopard frogs. We also admired Wood ducks and a Northern Shoveler floating gracefully thorough the reeds.
Annual Meeting at the Arboretum Auditorium - April 5
Science Expedition -Outdoor lab of the UW at Picnic Point, April 3
Eagle Heights Community Garden Seedfair - April 2, 2016
Every year in early spring the Community Gardens sponsor a most popular Seed fair for hundreds of families, who have registered for the 600 garden plots located in the Preserve. Each family can pick up 14 seed packets for free and attend classes on gardening. The event is organized by University Housing. Volunteers of the Friends help the many children who come along to the fair, to learn about seeds, soil, and the Nature Preserve.
This year, naturalist Sue Denholm, with Gisela Kutzbach, had the children explore the many features, virtues, and squiggly behavior of earthworms. Sue Denholm brought all the supplies, the soil, flashlights, magnifying glasses and the worms, captivating the children's attention. Thank you, Sue! Photos, by Gisela, show the range of responses, from recoil to marvel to delight in holding them.
Bird and Nature Walk - 4th Sunday field trip February 28, 2016
"Lured by unseasonably warm weather and the hope of seeing Great Horned and Barred Owls, more than 35 visitors joined Paul Noeldner on his monthly 4th Sunday walk that departed from the Picnic Point parking lot," Doris Dubielzig reports. "While we saw no owls, individuals saw and heard Brown creeper, Blue jay, Robin, Tufted titmouse, and Downy woodpecker, in addition to the Canada geese and Mallards floating on University Bay. One of the most observant visitors was a 7-year-old who spotted coyote scat and the brown creeper. The tour ended with a stop for hot chocolate and marshmallows around a Picnic Point campfire. The monthly walks are cosponsored by the Friends, Madison Bird City Friends of Urban Nature (FUN), and Madison Audubon Society." Photos Doris Dubielzig, except Brown Creeper, Audubon Society.
Nature's gifts to you – Bird and Nature Walk - 4th Sunday field trip December 27 -
About 16 people of all ages including 2 families with kids participated in the last Sunday Bird and Nature Walk of 2015 at the UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Will Waller, President of the Friends group, led the walk and talked about some of nature's gifts to us all at the Preserve and how we can give back. Highlights included a giant Pileated Woodpecker hanging almost upside down eating berries near the gathering spot, and a very cooperative and beautiful Barred Owl sleepily esconsed in a hollow tree along the trail near the end of Picnic Point.
As of 2016, all 4th Sunday Bird and Nature walks begin at the Picnic Point Parking lot. The docent table at the entrance stays up during the walk and a volunteer stays at the docent table during the walk to greet and engage additional people. Photos Paul Noeldner