Madisonians came out in droves, walking and jogging to Picnic Point and enjoying the balmy spring air. When John and I joined in the fun, with binoculars around our necks, people told us with great smiles, “You must see the Sandhill Cranes at the retention ponds,” and “Did you see the Owl at Willow Creek? It’s huge.” Yes we saw a group (that’s a sedge) of 13 cranes fly overhead, and on Thursday evening we saw cranes land in groups of three and four in the marshy Bay area east of the Willow Creek Bridge. The Great Horned Owl roosted watchfully on its favorite branch of the huge silver maple tree trunk he “owns” in the patch of oak savanna by Willow Creek. Then, looking for an early supper, the Owl silently swooped down toward the lake, causing a loud chattering and commotion among the cranes and geese.
Today was different. Cold, northerly winds moved in, breaking up the remaining ice on Lake Mendota and pushing the broken pieces into the southern and eastern shores. The Cranes and other birds kept warm in the reeds and the Great Horned Owl took shelter from the wind behind its thick branch, with an eye half closed much of the time, as if napping. But the tree buds on the tiny branches up high looked ready to burst. Spring is here. Gisela K.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors