On her walks this spring in the Preserve, Friends Board member Olympia Mathiaparanam photographed a wonderful selection of early spring flowers ready to burst into bloom. Enjoy this virtual tour of familiar and fragile friends greeting us with ephemeral beauty during this Earth Day week. The Dutchmen's breeches hanging blossoms will mature into pearly white, the Jacob's ladder buds into azure blue, and the Bellwort shoots will strain upward for some time before nodding downward again with the weight of golden yellow flowers.
David Liebl observed this male Yellow-bellied sapsucker drilling sap wells in a young White Pine along the service road near the birding checklists—clearly, a methodical and persistent bird, not wasting any bark access that might yield nourishment.
On his bird survey walks in Bill's Woods this April, David Liebl encountered an American Black Duck, not often seen, especially in the woods. Apparently she had decided that this big tree trunk, exposed to the sun, was a good place for building a nest. the next day David saw her sitting on the nest ..., well camouflaged. Nearby, he also spotted a herd (!!) of six deer.
Every day there are new arrivals. Enjoy your walks along the Bay and to the tip of Picnic Point. And take a minute to stop and listen and locate the many hopeful spring arrivals in the Preserve. Arlene and Jeff Koziol are capturing these gorgeous spring photos for us to view. To see more of Arlene's work, please visit her Flickr site.
On his frequent walks in the Preserve and Bills Woods, David Liebl spotted this Great Blue Heron on March 31. He reports, "While Great Blue Herons typically nest in the tops of wetland trees, this solitary bird was seen roosting above the Cedar knoll at the east end of Bill's Woods." Thank you, David, for sharing.
It is a time of waiting, in so many ways, a time to appreciate the signs of spring popping up all around us. Already during the first week of March, Arlene Koziol, on her walks in the Preserve, noticed the snow cover losing depth and showing openings and dents. And University Bay opened. She reports: "I have been spending some time in the Preserve. University Bay is open water. ... looking to Maple Bluff, there is ice. The ice is black and melting around the edges. I think that we will have open water soon. New migrants are arriving every day." She also observed a the muskrat in the bay.
While Arlene's photos of March 4 above shows looks like late winter, a week later on March 11, the snow is all but gone and brown soil tells of plants emerging. Fungi begin their decomposing work.
Arlene adds this quote for us:
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature— the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” Rachael Carson
On his walks in Bill's Woods to survey birds of this area, David Liebl also "came across two opossum, one foraging in the large compost pile in the SE corner of the gardens (see photo) and the second dead under the pines just east of the pile. The second had fresh wounds on its tail and looked like its spine had been bitten. There were no tracks," but David suspects a dog, "because none of it was eaten."
Read more about Opossum in the Preserve and Wisconsin in the recent winter issue of the Friends newsletter. "The male opossum forages farthest. Females stay closer to the transient shelters they adopt: rock shelves, brush piles, hollow logs, or old mammal burrows." They bear two litters a year, in midwinter and spring."
On this balmy Sunday, February 23, when the path to Picnic Point turned from ice to slush, this mallard couple delighted people on the Friends Birding field trip and passersby as well. Lila Walsh, on these walk with MJ Morgan, captured them courting with her camera. They were enjoying one of the few spots of open water along the shore. Mallard breeding season begins in early March. Female mallards like to breed where they were hatched!
Stephanie Sykes posted this impressive sequence of a Red-tailed hawk roaming for prey on the Bay side of Picnic Point. in early January before freezing of the Lake. The hawk is scanning the surroundings below and than taking off. Note that this hawk has been banded. Stephanie's sequence of photos is posted on iNaturalist.
This year's warm winter has caused some unusual winter sightings of birds that normally would have migrated south. Likely attracted by the flowing water, this Gray Catbird dumetella carolinensis was seen by David Liebl on January 24, 2020, along University Bay Dr. where the 1918 Marsh drains to the yellow pump house.
I'm passionate about the Preserve. Gisela Kutzbach and contributors