Fungi in the Preserve grow every months of the year, but they tend to flourish in warm temperatures and in the moist conditions we currently have in the woods. From the plethora of fungi photos submitted this month to iNaturalist, a selection is shown here, many of them photographed by Friends members. The Kingdom of fungi has its own classifications of families and species, but here is a grouping by color, mainly white. It includes many common gilled mushrooms, as well as shelf fungi, bracket fungi, rust fungi, and even jelly fungi. One reason there are so many white fungi is that they have no chlorophylls. They recycle important nutrients in the forest, and they extract the energy they need from organic compounds, such as sugars or protein, in living or dead organism. These processes take place mostly beneath the surface or in the soil, and the function of the visible part of the fungi is to ensure reproduction by producing and releasing spores.
June 7 was a beautiful day to go on a hike. David Liebl, on his own hike through Bill's Woods that day surveying nesting birds, watched the resident Sandhill crane family doing the same—striding from the old apple orchard, along the Biocore Prairie, to the Eagle Heights Community gardens where plenty of food is in easy reach on about 300 garden plots.
Along the southern edge of the Western UW Playing Field, large puddles form when there is plenty of rain. In this case the puddle formed in a rut made by a large tire. The mud seems to be just right in consistency for Cliff Swallows who are collecting mud for building their nests along cliff sides. Arlene Koziol has recorded with her camera, how they gather mud in large groups, in sync with each other. They bring these tiny pellets to their nesting site, up to half a mile away, adding to the nest rim of the mud construction they have "glued" to the cliff.
Please visit Arlene's Flickr site for a movie and an amazing sequence of photos.
David Liebl, on his walk in in Bill's Woods on May 24, spotted this proud Red-tailed hawk. He observed: "Chipmunks, while predators of song birds, are themselves predated upon by hawks, owls and crows. This Red-tailed Hawk is likely procuring food for a nest of hungry chicks somewhere near to Bill's Woods." Perhaps this is the same hawk that Glenda Denniston spotted with a toad in the previous blog.
Glenda Denniston is one of Friends Volunteers who have bee pulling Garlic mustard in the Preserve during the last two weeks. She reports: "This little guy (Gray tree frog, Hyla versicolor) was hiding on a garlic mustard plant in the Open Area of Upper Bills Woods. It changes color to match background." Glenda always has her camera on the ready. That's why we have this photo. Thank you!.
A day earlier, Glenda Denniston, witnessed a drama of sorts in the Open Area of Upper Bills Woods, while she was digging garlic mustard. She reports:
"I was carefully watching out for an American toad that kept one step ahead of my shovel as I moved along the patch. Didn't want to slice it. All of a sudden I was startled by a whoosh right by my ear and caught a glimpse of red-brown feathers. Then watched as this Red-tailed hawk flew up into a nearby tree. Walked closer and took this photo. Yes, it was my companion toad—lunch for a hungry hawk who no doubt had been as closely watching my toad as had I."
When we spent some time in the same spot in nature, we begin to notice things that would escape our eyes and ears, if just walking through. That is certainly one benefit of pulling Garlic mustard, in addition to reducing the presence of this invasivs and helping our native plants thrive.
David Liebl, who regularly monitors wildlife in Bill's Woods, observed this deer on Saturday, May 9, one of a herd of five. He previously sighted the herd on April 18 in the woods.
The past few post have given us glimpses of the diversity of spring flowers in the Preserve. And more are emerging every day. Many of these plants are tucked away, but Jeff Steele has a keen eye to spot them when just a few leaves are showing. Here we are following him on his walk this past Monday (5/4) in the Lakeshore Preserve. Jeff's posts on iNaturalist document that spring wildflowers grow all over Madison, in parks of course, and protected places, but also in backyards and front yards and some unlikely nooks and crannies. Test your memory when you peruse these leafy photos and picture the flowers that go with them.
Great waterleaf and Virginia waterleaf often grow next to each other, but one has more serated edges than the other. The Common jewel weed has formed its first round leaves, almost quarter size, the Mayapples are ready to fan out their umbrellas over large patches of ground, the Royal fern is uncurling its delicate young stem and leaves. In the case of Baneberry, it's hard to distinguish between the red- and white-berried Baneberry as their leaves are almost the same, but their fruits will tell. The Early meadow rue, so graceful, carries male and female flowers on separate plants (it's name Thalictrum dioicum means literally two households). On Jeff's photo the flowers have yellow stamens that hang like small tassels. The last two photos show the (smooth-leaved) Solomons seal and the Hairy Solomon seal, just emerging in one strong stalk. The leaves of the Hairy Solomon seal feel - yes - hairy on the underside. Check it out if you happen to see them in the woods. Thank you, Jeff, for sharing these photos.
Arlene Koziol spends many days documenting behavior of birds and water fowl. She reports: "When I watch the behavior of a common bird such as the Mallard duck, it becomes a new and exciting bird to me. Their social displays are happening in most of the ponds and lakeshores in Madison. In fact, as soon as I get out my door I am always aware of bird behavior. Now in my backyard, Black-capped chickadees are building a nest in our bluebird house and driving off intruders. Fascinating bird behavior can happen anywhere!" In the words of Paul Williams, Arlene provides us "with eyes and insight when [we] have to be other places." Enjoy the entire sequence of two male mallards in hot pursuit of one female. Arlene's Flickr site.
Spring also presents us with uplifting, peaceful displays of caring social interactions. On a recent cold morning, Jeff Koziol captured this scene along the lakeshore: A mama Canadian goose providing shelter for its little Gosling. She covers the Gosling with her spacious wing, her head turned toward her offspring, and the Gosling, already somewhat protected with down and feathers when hatching, snuggles into the warm goose down of its mama.
In springtime, visitors to the Preserve are in for so many treats of colors, sound and beauty, lifting our spirits and inviting us to contemplate the cycle of life. These earliest of flowers are already frequented by insects, busily gathering food and also pollinating for the next cycle to begin. Here is a small collection of photos from Glenda Denniston and some insects photographed by Mark Nofsinger and posted on iNaturalist. The big bumble bees seen in early spring are the queens that overwintered and are now gathering nectar and pollen to build cups and food balls for the next generation of bumble bees.
On her walks this spring in the Preserve, Friends Board member Olympia Mathiaparanam photographed a wonderful selection of early spring flowers ready to burst into bloom. Enjoy this virtual tour of familiar and fragile friends greeting us with ephemeral beauty during this Earth Day week. The Dutchmen's breeches hanging blossoms will mature into pearly white, the Jacob's ladder buds into azure blue, and the Bellwort shoots will strain upward for some time before nodding downward again with the weight of golden yellow flowers.
I'm passionate about the Preserve. Gisela Kutzbach and contributors