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.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors