,Koziol On her walk along Lakeshore Path on March 5, Arlene Koziol spotted two sandhill cranes at the marsh, fairly close to the location of the big snow pile. She believes they had just arrived from their arduous migration because she could approach them very closely while they were foraging for worms in the soft ground. Please look up Arlene's Flickr site for some short movies.
The Phenology Calendar for March on the Home page is filled with notices of spring arrivals and appearances - from opossums to painted turtles, to bluebirds and buffleheads. Hawks are also in abundance, hunting from their perches for small rodents like chipmunks, voles and more. David Liebl is once again walking Bill's Woods for his bird monitoring project in this area. He reports on a Red-tailed hawk who managed a good lunch today. The photos are taken from Daivd's personal checklist on e-bird.
David further reports "You may notice the piles of bark underneath the ash trees. Woodpeckers seem to have discovered the Emerald Ash Borer larvae. I assume those trees are (or will soon be) dead. Also, I noticed what looked like the remains of coyotes feeding on a rabbit along the footpath between archeology pit and the top of the service drive."
Pease tell us what you observes on your walks in March in the Preserve, either as Comment or in email to preserveFriends@gmail.com.
Chuck Henrikson put together a marvelous collection of birds in the Preserve in winter, as part of his Virtual Winter Birding Field Trip. Here is a symphony in white and red, snow and cardinals. There is still time to enjoy the Chuck's walk, on your next outing to the Preserve. CLICK HERE.
Lake Mendota froze officially on January 34, www.fishing.info/engberg_12_08_11.html2021. The median freeze date date for the lake is December 20th. With the lake freeze, the tundra swans and other water fowl left, and a new set of lake water foragers has arrived: Ice fishermen. Their arrival completes the annual cycles until spring sets in.
The deeper waters off Picnic Point are a hot spot for good sized perch. At this time, walleyes are still found in water less than 15 feet deep, but as the winter progresses, they will move to mid-lake. Also this early in the year, the fishermen catch fish attracted to the various baits throughout the day, but as winter progresses the best times are early morning and the later in the day. (see http://www.fishing.info/engberg_12_08_11 for more information on good ice fishing spots in Lake Mendota)
Rime frost and its cousin hoar frost have dazzled observers with their beauty since ancient times. In his book Μετεωρολογικά, Meteorologia, Aristotle noted
"Both dew and hoar-frost are found when the sky is clear and there is no wind. For the vapour could not be raised unless the sky were clear, and if a wind were blowing it could not condense." (347a26-28)
The term hoar frost derives from hoary which means gray or white in medieval English of the 14th century, and was used as adjective for a person with a white beard and hair. Hoar frost forms when water vapor in moist air comes in contact with objects that are well below freezing, like trees and grass during freezing night in winter, often with starry skies above. Here the water vapor, a gas, changes its state directly into a solid, the ice on the trees and surface objects, and we have frost.
The term rime frost derives from the 12th century, old Norse term hrīm or rimfrost. Conditions for rime frost are less likely in Greece or in England than for hoar frost, but occur regularly in snow covered northern landscapes like ours. Rime frost can form when layers of fog or mist develop in moist air over snowfields during cold nights with temperatures below freezing. The fog consists of tiny water droplets, cooled below freezing and suspended in the cold air.
When these supercooled water droplets come into contact with a freezing surface, such as a branch or grass, then the droplets of water, a liquid, change state from liquid to solid state and form ice on these objects. Since the droplets are so tiny, the result is beautiful feathery ice crystals of almost magical appearance.
Being both a meteorologist and historian of science by training, I take pleasure in tracing how people have always been fascinated with special weather phenomena and have tried to describe and explain them. We are grateful to Steve Sentoff for providing the photos.
After Madison’s Lake freeze, the tundra swans on University Bay will continue their migration to open waters in the Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere. During the migration period they gather in huge flocks. It is believed that the tundra swans mate for life. But after they mate and have reached their breeding grounds in the northern tundra, they fiercely defend their large territories and live as solitary pairs.
Perhaps this attitude when defending their territory carries over at times to when the tundra swans migrate in their large flocks, and would explain the at times aggressive social behavior that we observe on University Bay. In her photos during the last week of December, Arlene Koziol has captured the tundra swans' peaceful gathering along the ice edge and well as their downright nastiness toward one another. The juveniles, still colored gray, wisely stay out of disputes among adults and bend their necks and even crouch down to the water surface to show their submission. Please see all of Arlene's photos and short movies of the tundra swans here. Learn more at Birds of the World.
Will Vuyk, student Board member of the Friends, regularly visits the Preserve to observe changes of the seasons and lets himself be surprised by the beauty of nature. The heavy snowfall over the weekend drew the tundra swans from further north to the Madison Lakes. If you venture to the boat landing at University Bay, you will hear them chatter and carry on their disputes, displaying their beautiful wings and standing up tall in the water. Otherwise, they are intent on foraging, their heads under water and reaching almost a yard down with their long necks to find the choicest morsels of water plants in the University Bay.
Will writes: "The tundra swans have arrived with the snow! Lit from the west by the mid-afternoon sun, the postures and pursuits of these sociable birds are enchanting. If you are able to peel your eyes away from the swans, the Preserve itself, (while picturesque in all seasons) has been stunningly highlighted by the snow. Walk your favorite trail, enjoy your favorite spot, take in your favorite view, all accentuated in white." Enjoy Will's photos below. With the temperatures staying below freezing and no strong winds, the winter wonderland is till very much intact.
On December 13, a wondrous snowfall brought brilliant beauty of the purest white to the Preserve. Every tree, every path, every grass blade had changed. Soft tufts of snow were clinging to every twig and branch. At the Picnic Point Marsh, tree trunks have snow packed on their north sides, which were exposed to driving northerly winds all night. Arlene Koziol is sharing her photos of freshly fallen snow on her Flicker site.
On my weekly Tuesday morning stop at the bay, I was hoping to see some new arrivals on this crisp and sunny 1 December morning. And yes. The Tundra Swans have returned to the bay, showing off their brilliant white plumage. You can observe them from the boat landing at University Bay and close to shore along the path toward Picnic Point. Buffleheads, Common Goldeneyes, and masses of American Coots are close by. The first ice has formed along the shore rocks. Notice the strong mirage, the vertically elongated buildings on the opposite shore, resulting from cold air lying on top of still warm lake water. Gisela Kutzbach
The Purple Martin House monitored by the Friends is located on the highest spot of the Biocore Prairie, offering a 360-view of over a large open area and a convenient high perch. Throughout the year it is visited by many birds other than Purple martins. Our monitors have observed Red-winged blackbirds, an American robin, two Baltimore orioles, Tree swallows, a Song sparrow and even a Ruby-throated hummingbird. House sparrows try to invade the nesting cavities, and once in a while the Community Garden's resident Red-tailed Hawk will perch on the very tip of the house.
In the sequence of photos taken by Arlene Koziol on Nov 21, 2020, the hawk is watching the ground from up high, clinging to the tiny house top with its strong talons, then spotting some prey, possibly a vole or rabbit, and – with his eyes firmly tethered to the object on the ground – elegantly swooping down to capture the creature. See all of Arlene's photos at her Fllckr site.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors