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.
Year after year migratory waterfowl stop over at Picnic Point and the University Bay to rest and feed before heading further south. November is a spectacular month at the Bay, with Gadwalls, Common Loons, Buffleheads and a large raft of American Coots covering the water. It's a great time for photographers. Arlene Koziol captured these glorious photos of birds in motion.
“The Ojibwe (Chippewa) Indians called the loon "Mang" or "the most handsome of birds."
Loons are listed first in most North American field guides because they are considered to be the most ancient of birds. Adult loons are large, over 36 inches from the tip of their bills to the end of their feet when stretched out. They weigh between six and twelve pounds. Their feet are set back on their bodies so they cannot walk on land.
Loons swim low in the water because their bones are heavy. They are excellent divers and can vanish underwater to find food or escape danger without leaving a ripple. They reach depths of 200 feet or more. Their large webbed feet act as propellers, enabling fast travel underwater.
“To take flight, loons may run as far as a quarter of a mile on the water's surface to build enough speed to get aloft. In the air, they have a rapid wing beat and can fly up to 75 miles per hour. Loons can live for up to 30 years.
LoonWatch is a program of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute that protects Common Loons and their aquatic habitats."
Common Loons use Lake Mendota as a migratory stopover in the Fall. It is possible to see them from the shore especially in University Bay, Picnic Point and Frautschi Point.
“In late October and early November before lakes freeze, loons fly south to coastal seas, with some traveling 3,800 miles. Loons are one of the few birds found in both freshwater and salt water, from northern lakes to southern marine environments. Loons migrate south their first autumn and do not return to their breeding area for three years on average, says Andrew East, who has studied loons as a field biologist in Wisconsin and other states”.
Source: The Uncommon Loon, Glenda C. Booth, Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine
Beneath the Surface: A Natural History of a Fisherman's Lake. By Bruce M. Carlson
For more information, visit LoonWatch - Northland College, https://www.northland.edu/sustain/soei/loonwatch/,
On September 23, still cool in the early morning hours, the Biocore Bird Observatory crew had another successful day. A precious Lincoln Sparrow was measured, banded and released, as well as other song birds. Jackie Edmunds, Matt Hayes and Mark Berres are very pleased to continue the important research on birds in the Biocore Prairie.
A Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) made its way through the grassy area near the Water Utility plant, but it couldn't escape Glenda Denniston's camera eye. This species of praying mantis is native to Asia and the nearby islands and feeds primarily on other insects. It can be several inches long. These mantids have been observed eating the larvae of monarch butterflies.
September 3- On Roma Lenehan's End of Summer Birding Walk, Arlene Koziol observed with her camera this sequence of an Eastern-wood Phoebe feeding a fledgling. here is Arlene's story that goes with these photos:
"According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds Online, only 10% of the Eastern Wood Pewee’s are made up spiders and other invertebrates. So it was fortunate that we saw the young Pewee eat the Daddy-long-legs. The parent had great difficult feeding it to the fledgling. The parent had to try several times to shove it in the fledgling’s throat. It was necessary for the parent to break the Daddy-long-legs in two. The main diet of Pewees are flying insects. The birds capture the insects in mid-air."
The Osprey — also called fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk — is unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, This Osprey is a common sight soaring over the shoreline of Lake Mendota or watching the water from a high perch on a dead tree. The Osprey population has rebounded in North America and they do well around humans. Hunting Ospreys are a picture of concentration, diving with feet outstretched and yellow eyes sighting straight along their talons. Mike Bailey has masterfully captured this elegant bird, carrying a fish to a favorite perch. Ospreys can grasp with two toes in front and two behind. Barbed pads on the soles of the birds' feet help them grip slippery fish. When flying with prey, an Osprey lines up its catch head first for less wind resistance.
While the Lake is one of the hunting waters of this regular visitor to the Preserve, we do not know where it builds its nest. Ospreys have a cosmopolitan range, and this one could nest as far away as a cell phone tower off Fish Hatchery Road just east of the Madison Newspapers building, where Mike Bailey has spotted a nest. See also All About Birds
Off and on, between taking interesting photos of people and events, Robert Streiffer ventures into the Preserve and captures critters of all kinds and birds with his camera. Here is part of his series on the resident crane family. The colt is now just almost as tall as his parents. See the rest of the series on Rob's Facebook page .
I'm passionate about the Preserve. Gisela Kutzbach and contributors