Two curious owlets at the Willow Creek savanna are the joy of many photographers these days. They have left their precariously located basket nest and are now safely anchored on high oak tree branches, two fuzzy balls warming each other and seemingly well nourished. The watchful parents sit nearby, each in a different tree. Photos G. Kutzbach. Please send us your photos so we can post them. (preserveFriends@gmail.com)
On March 17, the CEE 578 – Senior Capstone Design team presented their preliminary report on the Analysis and Design of Storm Water Erosion Mitigation for the Eagle Heights Community Gardens. A panel of four judges from industry positively evaluated their presentation and report and also gave them feedback for further improvement. Several of their college mentors and professors were present, as well as representatives from the Friends, the Gardens, and Preserve staff. The photo taken before the presentation exudes the amazing team spirit of the group and their satisfaction to have completed real-world professional work. In this project, the students gained professional experience and the Garden Community now has a design plan for solving their storm water problem.
The team of two civil and four geological engineering students addressed the flooding, runoff, and erosion problems around the compost stockpile area in the southeast corner of the gardens. They were given certain design constraints, including not impacting any of the garden plots.This large stockpile consists of fall leaves collections, garden weeds, horse manure, and lake weed, leading to problems of nutrient-rich flooding during large rain events. The runoff drains into the adjacent Bill’s Woods. The students developed three alternatives to mitigate this problem and recommended a system of three bioswales to direct rainwater around the stockpile rather than through it. In addition, a rain garden to infiltrate all the water from the drainage area was proposed that would require use of Bill's Woods land and removing trees. The solution would also require a readjustment of the existing access gravel road toward the south. Capital costs were also presented. Some of the labor for installation could possibly be provided by gardener volunteer hours. The Friends provided some financial support for materials and printing, as well as mentoring. Photos by G. Kutzbach
Jeff Jaeckels sent us this expressive photo with us of the Great Horned owlet and parent. Thanks you you for sharing.
Faye Lorenzsson, who built the wire nest, writes: "It's hard to believe the owls finally chose the artificial wire nest over their usual natural hollow after snubbing it for 5 seasons. Perhaps their normal hollow is deteriorating, but I would have expected them to select that lovely nest box [attached to one of the oaks] over a tree fork" with a wire nest, but "there is really no accounting for taste =)" (see details in the previous blog)
Paul Noeldner, who networks with many birders in the Madison area reports: "A pair of Great Horned Owls in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve has already nested and hatched Owlets According to Chuck Henrikson with the UW Vet School, their normal nesting period in Wisconsin is Feb 14, Valentines Day to Mar 17, Saint Patricks Day. Since hatched Owlets were spotted by March 2 this year, this indicates their 32 day nesting period started at least 2 weeks earlier than normal, around the last week in January. Nelson Institute Capstone student Hannah DePorter who helped a Lakeshore Nature Preserve team implement an Owl Cam project last year, located and photographed one of the owls on their nest. The nest is an artificial wire and stick cone installed by a prior student Faye Lorenzsonn several years earlier as a research project to see if they would use a human provided box or stick nest, and which they prefer. We look forward to more pictures. The owl nest location is not being publicized to help avoid additional human presence that might disturb their natural activities.
Hannah also captured pictures of the Bock Laboratories Red-tailed Hawk nest and one of the Red-tail pair that have returned to the same nest location again this year and will soon begin laying eggs. More updates to come!
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors