It is this time of the year. The snappers and painted turtles of Lake Mendota are on their annual pilgrimage from the shallows of the University Bay marsh across the bike path and University Bay Drive to the edges of the Class of 1918 marsh and the gentle slopes of the new retention basin. It's time for the turtles to lay their eggs in the drier slopes of these areas, more protected from natural predators.
This journey is always precarious, and turtles get hurt and even smashed by cars. This year, the crossing was even more dangerous because the new metal turtle crossing signs, while attractive, weren't visible enough to drivers and because the new retention basin by Parking Lot 60 is surrounded by a chain link fence that was so close to the ground that turtles simply couldn't squeeze under it to reach the desirable more sandy slopes.
The first SOS call was raised by Mickey Schaefer, a UW alumni and teacher for 36 years, who bikes along Lakeshore Path almost every day and loves the wildlife there. On Friday afternoon she helped care for a turtle run over by a car; she got animal rescue involved, and she called me at home that the usual large sandwich board sign with the SLOW - Turtle Crossing was missing. By that time on Friday, the university was winding down for the weekend. But Gary Brown, Preserve Director, whom I contacted, got personally involved and confirmed that the current metal signs were too small to be seen.
Glenda Denniston is sharing her discovery of the nest hole a Hairy Woodpecker couple is proud to occupy at Frautschi Point.
Yesterday afternoon, the two growing owlets were observed being fed by Glenda Denniston. The bark of the tall spruce trees on the Frautschi Point path, just past the junction with the Big Oak trail, is an excellent camouflage for the owls. You have to look carefully to spot them.
Pat Becker, who checked each of the boxes on the Bluebird Trail this Saturday morning, reports:
"A hot, sunny day for the Blue Bird Trail monitoring.
The bluebirds are doing well –
three nestlings have fledged, two nearing fledge time, and
two beautiful new blue eggs in a box formerly inhabited by house sparrows."
Check the Bluebird page for more details.
Will and Louisa Waller walked the Bluebird trail this beautiful Saturday morning. The housing situation in the boxes has not changed significantly over the past week, but the bird families have been busy.
At BB6 two little Bluebird babies have hatched. The Bluebird nestlings in BB9 keep growing their feathers while staying snug in their nest and being fed by their busy parents. It will be at least another week before they fledge. The Tree swallows in BB7 have added another egg to their brood. The House wrens in BB2 added two more eggs. And the Tree swallows of BB4 are filling their nest with eggs. All is well on the Bluebird trail.
See the Bluebird page for details.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors