Three weeks ago Mike Bailey photographed these two juveniles near the Biocore Prairie. And since then they have grown in leaps and bounds. It's a good year for sandhill cranes at the Preserve, with two pairs raising each a family of two.They are regular visitors to the Community Gardens, where gardeners are very much used to them and where cranes find abundant food.
On June 7, Arlene Koziol reported "Jeff and I are water quality monitors for Lake Mendota for the Clean Lakes Alliance. We live in Spring Harbor where there is an extensive Blue-Green Algae bloom. This morning when we did our water testing at 7:30 am, the air temperature was 72.5, water temperature 71.7, turbidity 55 Units, At 4:52 pm the changes were shocking. The air temperature was 83.2, water temperature 86.8, turbidity 5 cm. I was heartbroken to see a family of mallard ducks foraging in the scum. Also saw people recreating and working in the bloom". The scum and foul smell were horrific. All photos Arlene Koziol.
That day, Arlene consulted John Magnuson, who reported "It was a bluegreen bloom. Bluegreen are photosynthetic cyanobacteria. Bluegreen stay in the sunlight (they need light for photosynthesis) with gas vacuoles for flotation. If it is calm they float to the surface, if there is a slight breeze they tend to accumulate on the downwind side of a lake. When the cells age their membranes breakdown and the water turns into a bluegreen paint-pot appearance from the release of their photosynthetic pigments. The grey you saw is bacterial growth growing off and decomposing the bluegreens. That is what smells. A good wind mixes bluegreens downward in the water column and there would be none of the surface signs but the decomposition could be occurring beneath the surface. My guess is that what you are smelling in University Bay.
Not all cyanophytes have toxins. There is a diverse set of species living in Lake Mendota when the water has warmed and the nutrients pour in as they have in the last week. An extensive bloom can cause a decrease in dissolved oxygen in the waters because the bacteria decomposing the dying bluegreen algae need and use oxygen in the process. Sometimes this also causes a fish kill if the dissolved oxygen levels become too low.
The Dane County muck removal project to remove phosphorus loaded sediments from the lower reaches of streams near near their outlet to Lake Mendota, will reduce the phosphorus that enters from these storms. It should have a more immediate effect than, for example, cleaning up a particular farm high in the watershed."
The photos cannot truly portray thermal situation, with sound and smells added. "The blooms do form pancake-like patterns. The pancakes are maintained by growth (cell division) in the mid-pancake and shearing by currents at the edge. A boundary occurs where the loss rate by shearing exceeds the expansion rate due to growth of the alga," according to Steve Carpenter.
The blue-green algae bloom forced the closure of several Madison-area beaches including a stretch of Lake Mendota from UW-Madison to Middleton. Kynala Phillips reported in the Wisconsin State Journal. She also interviewed Jeff and Arlene and you can read last weeks front page article about the issue in the Wisconsin State Journal.
"The toxins can cause issues such as upset stomach, rashes and respiratory problems. Such blooms can also lead to fish kills once the bacteria sinks, according the UW Center for Limnology. Their website reports: "The conditions were ripe for an algae bloom. .... [Our area] received anywhere from 4 to 5 inches of rain more than the long-term average for the month of May. ... Rain, especially the “gullywashers,” carry tons of phosphorus-laden soil into nearby creeks and streams, where it eventually ends up in our lakes and is just as good at growing algae as it is soybeans. The weather got warm... Cyanobacteria like it warmer than other algae and they grow fast in warm water... the wind stopped...these kinds of algae are boyant and they just floated to the top in this awful scum."
The Public Health Department takes water samples weekly, but the department also depends on citizen reports and organizations like the Clean Lakes Alliance to get a real-time understanding of the lakes’ conditions.
You can learn more on July 11, 9:05 am, when Trina Mahon will speak about Blue-Green Algae Bloom at the monthly Yahara Lakes 101 event organized by Clean Lakes Alliance (at the Edgewater Hotel).
Arlene is consulting with a host of scientists and government agencies in an effort to summarize the causes, toxins released, effects, and possible actions regarding cyanobacteria blooms on our lakes. – Gisela
This morning on one of his frequent birding walks in the Lakeshore Preserve, Mike Bailey spotted a family of Sandhill Cranes with two very young colts. He met up with them at the Biocore Prairie. "...due to the size of the youngsters, they had to have been hatched nearby," Mike states. How great it was to see them close up! When we compare the size of these young colts with the two colts on the preceding blog post, photographed by Glenda Denniston on May 19, it appears that these cannot be the same family of sandhill cranes. According to Mike, it's "only 1200-1300 feet from the Class of 1918 marsh to where I took the photos today, so being the great walkers they are, they could have covered that distance... It'd be quite a coincidence for there to be two sets so close to one another, but who knows?" In the nineteen days since Glenda's photo, the colts would have grown noticeably, too.
If any of you birders out there can confirm, please respond to this blog. Gisela
On May 19, Glenda Denniston took this photo of the crane family with 2 colts. The Sandhill Cranes pair, annual residents at the Lakeshore Preserve, are raising these colts the Class of 1918 Marsh.. Watch our for them when you pass through on University Bay Drive.
Arlene Koziol saw him"out of the corner of her eye", while pontooning in the late afternoon on this beautiful Sunday, and "you can see that he was looking right at" her!
Linda Deith captured on video how the Barred Owlets in Bill's Woods are practicing their flying skills–a precarious yet necessary part of growing up.
The Demands of Parenthood: Observations of a Barred Owl Family in The Preserve
A family of Barred Owls, Strix varia, are living in a large natural cavity in a dead oak tree snag in the UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve. The first time that I saw the Barred Owl family, there were three owlets in the nest cavity. One parent was keeping watch in a nearby tree, while the other parent was out hunting for food. Within the next few days, the owls had “branched”. The owlets were able to climb the trees using their beaks and talons. In branching, the owlet grabs the bark with its beak and walks with it’s feet up the trunk while flapping it’s wings. The owlets practiced branching in the nest by holding on to the sides of the cavity with their beaks and talons, flapping their wings vigorously. The larger and stronger of the owlets went several trees away from the nest, while the smallest owl with the most down stayed closer to home. Yesterday when I observed them again I discovered there are four Barred Owlets!!!
Here is the link to my pictures
When the owlets were awake, they would make frequent begging sounds which can be described as a squeaky hiss. The guardian parent would periodically reply with hissing sound. Click on this link and go to Juvenile Sound to hear the begging. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barred_Owl/sounds
I lucky enough to see about a dozen feedings. Prey that was captured were voles and fish. The hunting parent would bring the prey to the guardian parent. Next the parent would bring the whole feeding to the owlet, present it and rub the prey on the owlet’s face. I wonder what was the reason for this behavior? Owls locate their prey by their their highly advanced vision and superb hearing, so it was not to teach the owlet about smell. The parent brought the prey to another branch for shredding into little pieces that an owlet could easily gulp down. One time, the parent decided to eat the whole vole in a few gulps. After eating, the owls would clean their bills by rubbing them on a tree branch. My husband Jeff and I watched a parent owl fly down to the University Bay Marsh, bringing back fish to feed the young. Jeff saw the parent perched on a tree about 8 feet above the ground overlooking the marsh. I have alway thought of Ospreys and wading birds catching fish in University Bay, not owls!
The vigilant parent guardian also has the job of protecting the owlets against other animals and predators. I saw songbirds, woodpeckers and squirrels mob them, which is called non-predatory interspecific interaction. When the squirrels were attacking an owlet, the baby flapped it’s wings and hissed. The parent dive bombed the squirrels until they retreated. The Barred Owl’s main predators are other owls and hawks, as well as raccoons and weasels.
Another behavior observed was the parent preening an owlet. I do not know if the parent was caring for the feathers an/or removing parasites.
Barred Owls are crepuscular and nocturnal hunters, so they sleep a lot during the day. They are beautifully camouflaged while they remaining motionless perched or laying down on the branches.
Barred Owls are opportunistic predators that like to live in large, mature forests with both evergreen and deciduous trees near water. This habitat supports a diversity of prey and has large trees for nesting cavities. The UW Lakeshore Preserve provides just the perfect habitat for Barred Owls. The conservation of the UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve and Yahara Lakes watershed in these times is more important than ever,
Thanks to Alenka Weinhold and Glenda Denniston for sharing the Barred Owl family with me.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birds of North America, Barred Owl, Kurt M. Mazur and Paul C. James
Spring - a glorious time for birds and birders. Here are a few of the smaller-sized birds, at times better heard than seen. Enjoy these photos by Mike Bailey. A large number of Fox Sparrows had a good-sized area cleared out in Bill's Woods as they foraged. Many were singing. A Brown Thrasher was taking a break in Second Point Woods near one of the gullies that had running water from snow melt. Swamp Sparrows were foraging in the muck at the edge of University Bay. Yellow-rumped Warblers were mingling with the Swamp Sparrows. Dark-eyed Juncos were singing.
Avid birder Roma Lenehan reports "Tonight (Saturday) there were at least two (maybe three) Woodcocks displaying in/over the prairie at around 8:30 PM. One sounded like it was toward the lake from the Purple Martin house (it sounded quite close) and another one (distant) sounded like it was near the original prairie toward the north. There may have been a third distant bird near the orchard. At least two flew multiple times (less than 10 but more than 5 times) and "peented" persistently (between flights). The close one was still peenting when I left, but there had been no flight for a while. This was a good night because it was warm and calm. They also like clear nights and a moon.
At about the start of April a huge number of these tiny fluff balls of beauty flooded the area. Dozens of Golden-crowned kinglets ended up in the woods around the Lakeshore Preserve where Mike Bailey photographed them from all possible angles. After a week, the numbers were less, but many are still scattered about in the woods. These photos showcase their stunning coloring.
During migration, kinglets frequently join other songbirds, such as warblers. The last photo in the sequence shows one of the first Yellow-rumped warblers in the area. The tiniest of birds, kinglets winter throughout much of the continent often in dense conifers which provide some protection in cold climates. They tend to breed in the northern forests. They are hard to spot, as they flit about among the branches, often hanging upside down to glean insects.
I'm passionate about the Preserve. Gisela Kutzbach and contributors