On December 19, Adam Gundlach, Field Projects Coordinator of the Preserve, and Steve Sentoff, Preserve Steward and also on the Board of the Friends, were out at the Willow Creek Savanna. Steve reports "we were doing some work in anticipation of seeding into that area, when Adam spotted this opossum on the ground. Although I think opossums are normally nocturnal, this one did not seem sick or otherwise impaired, and appeared to be simply foraging on the ground in the area that had been burned 11/29 this year."
The Virginia Opossum, North America's only marsupial, has been around for at least 70 million years and is one of Earth's oldest surviving mammals. It lives in a wide-variety of habitats including deciduous forests, open woods and farmland. It tends to prefer wet areas like marshes, swamps and streams, and is likely to be quite happy in the Willow Creek area along the University Bay. It eats most anything, being and omnivore. Since opossums do not hibernate, they avoid the really cold northern areas covered by snow. They breed 2-3 times a year, and can feed up to 13 babies in their pouch, where the babies stay about 55-60 days.
This opossum did not mind being photographed. But opossums can literally be scared stiff, "playing possum" and assuming a coma-like state.
Throughout this Decembe, Mike Bailey spent several productive birding walks in the Preserve. The water fowl will stay until the lake freezes over, and others stay throughout the winter. Bald eagles come all the way from the Wisconsin river to take advantage of the bountiful selection in the Bay. he observed three American Loons that day in the University bay. On December 14 he saw at least 40-50 Common Mergansers. And from the photo of the Northern Shovelers you can see how they arrived at their name. In addition Mike estimated at least 600 Tundra Sanna on the Bay by mid-month, during wind still days not only in the University Bay but also on the bay between Picnic Point and second Point. All photos ©Mike Bailey.
This Tuesday bird, photographer Mike Bailey reports, was a great day "with hundreds of Tundra Swans foraging and talking away in the University Bay." He is sharing with us four your representative photos of them along with one of several Common Goldeneyes. And not to be forgotten, he added one upside-down Black-capped Chickadee.
Thank you Mike. And Go and See for yourself the glorious sight at the bay.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors