Friends Field Trips 2020
Because of COVID-19 concerns, all in-person field trips continue to be canceled for the time being. Enjoy our Self-Guided Walks instead.
The UW-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve is currently only open from sunrise to sunset each day. The fire circles on Picnic Point are closed and no fires are allowed. Dogs on leash.Questions? Please contact Doris Dubielzig.
The nearby sandstone was formed from sand deposited on the bottom of a Cambrian sea, 490 to 500 million years ago.Having survived mechanical destruction by and meltwater from the most recent glacier, which began its retreat 20,000 years ago, the soft stone at lake level is slowly being eroded by the three W’s: weathering, wave and wind action.
This part of the Preserve was gifted by newspaper editor and UW regent George Raymer to the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association. 2,3 At the turn of the 20th century, the pleasure drive to Raymer’s Cove brought urban families by horse and carriage for Sunday picnics in a natural setting along the lakeshore.2 More than a hundred years later, the Cove shares its beauty and challenges through every seasonal cycle.
In autumn, a blaze of oaks and sumac line the lake.
In winter, dramatic scenes of ice and snow illustrate the process of weathering.
In spring, the first of the cyanobacteria blooms tarnish the beach.
In summer, Barn Swallows build nests in sandstone crevices to raise their young.
1. Exploring Wally Bauman Woods
Hello, walkers! I'm MJ Morgan, newsletter editor and lover, especially, of Wally Bauman Woods. My husband, Tom, is the photographer; he captured all of these images on a single walk in September 2019.
The trail to Wally Bauman Woods, west of Raymer's Cove, begins with a steep, rocky ascent, as if you are climbing into a castle keep -- or a hidden world. And it is! Once you are on the upland trail you glimpse the lake through slender trunks.
Older trees on the southern side of the trail offer beautiful circles and whorls of lichens, such as this basswood trunk with an array of shield lichens. If you are lucky, other ephemeral treasures appear. Here, a yellow-collared scape moth, a common resident of the Preserve woods, pauses on goldenrod.
Stand a moment to honor Wally Bauman for his vision, for this small, hidden gift of brilliant, active life along the lake. The Dane County Natural Heritage Foundation was later renamed the Natural Heritage Land Trust and in 2017 received its current name Groundswell Conservancy.
Next, walk up the path uphill toward Lake Mendota Drive and cross it into Eagle Height Woods. See map above.
3. Eagle Heights Woods –
a place of respite and wellbeing
Gisela Kutzbach has served on the Board of the Friends for more than 10 years and was President for three of them. She is co-chair of the Membership Committee and our website manager. Gisela led significant fund drives for the Heritage Oak and Eagle Heights Woods restorations. Here she guides us through Eagle Heights Woods.
After crossing Lake Mendota Drive, locate the path to the top of the hill.
Close to the top you reach a gorgeous, exposed limestone cliff, layered on top of the older sandstone cliffs. The limestone was formed from the skeletons of sea creatures, including trilobites, that lived 480 million years ago. These cliffs are covered with beautiful wildflowers in spring.
As you walk up to the top, you reach layers shaped by glaciations. The first glaciers formed with cooler climate about 70 million years ago. The most recent one started to retreat 20,000 years ago, when the climate began to warm again. It left behind sediment called till, ranging in size from clay particles to big boulders, called erratics. At the path juncture at the top, walk right toward the lake until you reach a cluster of 5-6 large rocks to the left of the path. One of these erratics, a pinkish-orange rhyolite rock, is a volcanic rock transported here by glacier all the way from north of Lake Superior!
The hill of EHW is a drumlin, one of the thousands of Wisconsin’s elongated hills formed by sliding, scraping glacial motion. Glaciation partly filled the old Yahara River valley with till. What was once a steep cliff of 500 feet has been reduced to 160 feet. Still, Eagle Heights hill is the highest point on the south side of Lake Mendota. To learn more, click on Prof David Mickelson’s slideshow.
Continue north to the large conical mound overlooking Lake Mendota. Eagle Heights Woods was a sacred place to the Native Americans, who built this circular and two linear mounds at the top of Eagle Heights, about 1500 years ago. During this early mound building period, which lasted about 400 years, round cone mounds were used for burial of people of significance.
From this, the highest point along the south shore of the lake, the mound builders then, and we today, have a commanding view of the northern shoreline. Once studded with hundreds of mounds, often in the shape of animals, many of them were built by a second group of mound builders, who were ancestors of today's Ho-Chunk and other nations.
Continue along the path westward and loop back to the junction with the cliff path toward Raymer’s Cove. Along the way on your left, notice the two long linear mounds.
A major restoration of EHW began in 2014, with major funding provided by the Friends, and is still ongoing. The magnificent, mature oak forest has been cleared of buckthorn and other invasive vegetation, so you can enjoy again expansive views across the heights on your walk. The mounds are now free from trees and have been reseeded with native grasses to prevent further erosion and destruction. Continue past several exposed limestone outcrops toward the trail junction back down. The beautiful, quiet woods is home to an abundance of birds and wildflowers. Eagles are roosting here again and watch for prey along the shore. Enjoy the easy, soft trails and the spectacular views across the lake.
Self-guided Friends Board Walk for November, Part 2:
Frautschi Point to Raymer's Cove
Park in UW Frautschi Point Lot (2662 LAKE MENDOTA DRIVE). ThIs parking lot is fee-free.
1. Wildflower Planting along the New Trail from Frautschi Point Lot to Biocore Prairie. In his fourth year on the Board, President Steve Sentoff came to us through his frequent, knowledgeable, and quality volunteer work in the Preserve. Here Steve describes the recent construction of a trail from the Frautschi Point parking lot area to Biocore Prairie, and the wildflower plantings that he organized, with Preserve staff, along the trail.
A short walk south from the Frautschi parking lot will take you to the newest of the Friends' restoration project sites. Follow the low stone wall until you reach the entrance of the trail that ultimately leads to the Biocore Prairie.
On both sides of the trail, the area was prepped by volunteers and Preserve staff, who removed invasive brush as well as spread some seed. In the summer of 2018, the trail was laid out by the Preserve staff. Then the Prairie Partners Interns (sponsored by the Friends' organization) created the path and added a layer of wood chips. The Friends and the Preserve staff worked jointly to determine a set of planting sites along the new path and to order plant plugs for those sites. The Friends organization paid for the plants. The photos above show the site just before the Spring Wildflower Planting event on May 18, 2019. More than 20 different species were planted in differing areas based on the amount of sun reaching the floor and how wet the soil was.
The photos above show some of the sixteen volunteers who participated. As you visit now in the fall of 2020, you'll see the site much like the third photo, which was taken from about the same point as the first, so you can clearly understand the effect of this project.
Walk north toward Biocore Prairie. Take the grassy path eastward between the Prairie on your left toward the Eagle Heights Community Gardens.
2. CALS and F.H. King student research gardens, and Eagle Heights Community gardens. Tom Bryan has been has been working with students at UW-Madison for over 13 years, first as a student and now, with degrees completed, as manager of the GreenHouse Learning Community located in Leopold Hall. He serves faculty who use the Allen Centennial Garden. Tom joined the Friends Board as a student and is now in a 3-year Board term, serving on the Annual Meeting (our tech wizard) and Outreach Committees.
Tom says: While at the Eagle Heights Community Gardens, I became friends with a grandmother from a few hours outside of Beijing. She had a plot up the hill, mine in the valley. We would always wave to each other, smile, and enjoy the weather passing each other on the pathways. I gave her some plants. She gave me some plants. We would show each other plants and food on our phones and tell stories through gesture. In her plot, she taught me how to cook garlic chives and eggs—miming the motions—as she dug up some of her garlic chive plants for me to grow in my plot. I will never forget that recipe (see below), and I cherish those garlic chive plants. We never shared a spoken language, but we developed a relationship that I treasure deeply. The languages we shared were those of plants, food, and land. The Preserve is a place that makes these connections possible.
Eating and gardening are some of the most intimate interactions that individuals can have with their non-human natural surroundings. Eagle Heights Community Gardens is a place where hundreds of people do just that. It is one of the largest and oldest community gardens in the United States. Come on by. Who knows, maybe you’ll leave with an unforgettable recipe and a new friend.
NEXT, Walk around the east and north sides of the Biocore Prairie to the Lakeshore Path, and follow it to Raymore’s Cove.
3. Frautschi Point to Raymer’s Cove via the Lakeshore Path
First year Board member Will Vuyk is one of our two student Directors. The UW Junior is on the Outreach and Communication Committees. The article he wrote, of his impressions of and reactions to the Preserve, appeared in our August newsletter. See Will Vuyk’s “Come Wandering” on p. 7 of the Preserve.
When I find myself here, on the stretch of trail between Frautschi Point and Raymer’s Cove, it has been a good day. As the fall sun looks me square in the eye from the west, all of the Preserve behind me still runs fresh through my mind. My journey must always begin from the heart of campus, traversing gravel, pavement, roots and soil; through Muir Woods, over Willow Creek, along the Marsh, and around University Bay. I then turn right into Picnic Point and plunge left into the forest, rolling with the lake shore up, down and around Frautschi Point.
Imagine me meeting you here for this section of the Board Walk winded and a little flushed, but overjoyed.
What can I tell you about this part of the Preserve? First I urge you to read about the geology and cultural history of the land, for I am just as much a student in these matters as you all, and the Lakeshore Nature Preserve website (here) makes this fascinating information easily accessible. A more recent history of the summer student encampment, for which the Tent Colony Woods are named, is also provided by the Preserve and can be accessed here. My expertise lies in my own taste. In autumn this stretch of woods is my favorite in all the Preserve.
I am always drawn to the maples, as I gesture to the gleaming saplings around us. In the slanting afternoon sun, their yellow leaves shine like stained glass between backlit branches. Vibrant against a cool gray autumn sky, they cast a happy yellow shade. When the wind sweeps off the lake, they beckon like a dancing flame, drawing us farther and farther down the trail. Who could resist?
Mesmerized by the maples we arrive at Raymer’s Cove. The sun still slants through the trees and my mind races with excitement for what the rest of our walk has in store. A good day in the Preserve continues — thank you for joining me today, and off we go!
To return to your car, follow the trail back to Frautschi Point and turn right toward the parking lot.
Self-guided Friends Board Walk for November, Part 1:
Picnic Point to Second Oak
Park in UW Lot 130 (2003 University Bay Drive). The parking lot is fee-free on the weekends. Your field trip committee, Doris Dubielzig, Eve Emshwiller, Paul Noeldner and Lillian Tong, and President Steve Sentoff.
1. The Tip of Picnic Point. Begin at the entrance to Picnic Point, across from UW Parking Lot 130.
Walk straight toward the end of Picnic Point, passing rafts of coots in University Bay on your right until you reach the grand fire circle at the tip of Picnic Point. Nancy Breden, relatively recent transplant to Madison and Board member, shares the following story. Nancy brings her environmental experiences and organizational skills at The Nature Conservancy to the Friends. With us, Nancy is providing input and assistance to the reorganized and refreshed Membership Committee.
"I was introduced to the Preserve while on a run with my daughter. We explored all the trails and ended up at the end of Picnic Point. It had been such a pleasant surprise, to find this wooded oasis surrounded by water so close to downtown. I looked down and spotted a well-worn plaque on a rock that said, “Touch here for an official Picnic Point run. Art. 1996.” I never had the good fortune to meet Art Hove, but every time I turn around and head home after officially recording my run by touching that rock, I reflect on those who have come here before me, and those who will come after."
2. Picnic Point Marsh and Beach Trail. Walk back, past the old pump on your right, toward the fire circle at the Narrows. Take the sandy trail to the right along the beach. The rustic toilets are on the left. Further along, white foam lines the beach on your right, and a few mallards swim in the Marsh on your left. Just before the former beach house is an attractive bench for contemplating the lake on the one side, the Pond Marsh on the other, and Paul Noeldner’s reflections.
Paul enjoys being on the Friends of Lakeshore Nature Preserve Board with the wonderful people, nature and opportunities to help out! The Wisconsin Master Naturalist and birding expert recruits leaders for the 4th Sunday Bird and Nature Outings that inform and engage students, Friends members and visitors with the Preserve throughout the year.
Paul Noeldner: "My favorite place is the Picnic Point Marsh and Beach Trail. The path goes from the old, repurposed Beach House next to the hidden lagoon and Lake Mendota to the beach at the Picnic Point narrows. This vibrant, yet quiet natural area has multiple habitats -- it is alive with birds and nature all year round. Here’s a link to a short video I made of the area on October 28th.
My favorite Friends of Lakeshore Nature Preserve Board activity is helping to organize and lead year-round, free Madison Friends of Urban Nature (FUN) Bird and Nature Adventures, which are co-sponsored by the Friends and Madison Audubon. We offer a variety of fun and educational nature topics with a special mission to help connect students, families and kids with the Preserve and nearby urban nature. I also enjoy volunteering with the Friends Citizen Science research projects including the Biocore Prairie Bluebird Trail and the Purple Martin house. We welcome additional volunteer help!"
3. Biocore Prairie Observatory. Next, turn left and walk past the Beachhouse. Turn right at the next intersection, and immediately right again on the trail to the Biocore Prairie. See map. Continue this lovely walk through the woods until emerge at some sheds and a service road crossing. Continue straight up to the prairie and turn right onto a wide, grassy path. Now the Prairie is on your left. Walk past the stand of mixed hardwood trees until you spot a picnic table between a black cherry and a mulberry tree. This table is bird banders’ workstation. Stop here to admire the Prairie, the view of Lake Mendota, and to read Lillian’s account.
With her background in neuroscience research and improving and expanding undergraduate science education, Lillian Tong joined the Board in April 2018. A talented networker, Lillian has been active with the Field Trip Committee and is Chair of the Nominating and Outreach Committees.
I love birdwatching, but as an amateur I can’t always locate the bird, and even then can rarely get the binoculars to cooperate before the bird has flown off. When I do manage to see the bird through the binoculars, what do I look for to distinguish it from others? So, if you are a bit like me, you will also love one of my favorite places, the Biocore Prairie Bird Observatory (BPBO). Normally, from April to October, bird banding at the BPBO occurs every Saturday morning. The UW-Madison project is facilitated by Master Bird Bander and Director Dr. Mark Berres.
You can go there on your own, or take a Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve field trip when the band of bird banders is expecting visitors. This past summer of 2020, bird banding, like all other non-essential activities at UW, has been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, when it resumes, I highly recommend a visit to the BPBO for people of all ages, but particularly to parents with young children.
I first became acquainted with the Observatory when I was the Board host for a Friends field trip. The 7:00AM start time was early for one of our field trips, but volunteer Jackie Sandberg (whose day job is Wildlife Rehabilitation Training Coordinator with the Dane County Humane Society Wildlife Center) and her crew of volunteer banders had arrived hours earlier, to set up mist nets to catch the birds, and organize the visitors’ information table and the picnic table with all the tools and reference books where the real work was done. Though the bird banders were focused on collecting the data quickly to minimize stress on the birds, they explained what they were doing and answered questions. Handling two birds at a time, a total of 22 birds were identified, measured, assessed for age and health, and banded before the 10AM finish. It was a joy to see the birds up close and we all learned so much!
It was fun listening to discussions among the bird banders as they helped each other learn and make decisions. Who would have guessed that blowing the feathers on the body of the bird would reveal so much information about age, health, and whether there is a brood patch! All the data are entered into a spreadsheet. The data eventually go to the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, which monitors the status and trends of migratory and resident birds in North America. The data are used, among other things, to answer questions about breeding, population increases or decreases, general health of bird populations, and movement of individual birds. For more information, see the Bird Observatory page.
4. White Oak Protection Area. Continue along the trail until to reach the woods. Turn left and continue on the trail between prairie and woods. When you reach the bottom of the hill just beyond the prairie take the first right and up onto a recently wood chipped trail. The Second Oak and its red-leaved branches are straight ahead. Kelly Kearns chose to share this area with you.
Kelly works as the Invasive Plants Program Coordinator with the Natural Heritage Conservation program of the Wisconsin DNR. In this, her first year on the Board, Kelly is already serving on the Friends Nominations Committee.
"Prior to European invasion of North America, the Ho-Chunk people managed the lands of Dejope, the Four Lakes region, with fire. The result was a mosaic of oak-hickory dominated forests, open prairies, and savanna. The technique created the ecological blending of fire-resistant trees with a grass and forb understory. With the decimation and removal of the indigenous people, the forests were cut, the prairies were plowed, and the savannas grew into forests. Eventually some of the plants that the Europeans brought with them began to flourish. The Lakeshore Nature Preserve staff and volunteers have been working to free the old open-grown oaks and return this part of the Preserve to the savanna landscape that it was for thousands of years prior to European settlement. They are cutting and treating invasivebuckthorn and honeysuckle to “day-light” the oaks and let them flourish.
The Second Oak stands at the center of this effort and is testimony to the importance of the restoration project begun in the winter of 2019-20. Partly damaged by storms but now able to receive the sun’s rays, the large old oak holds on, retaining the memories of the plants and wildlife that were once in abundance here, and the fires that sustained them.
From the Second Oak return to Picnic Point, past the Eagle Heights Community Gardens. See map.
Self-guided Tour for October
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood of Raymer’s Cove!
Short-term parking at the (small) Raymer’s Cove Parking Lot, 2900 Lake Mendota Drive, and outside the Eagle Heights Community Center, 611 Eagle Heights Drive. Doris Dubielzig wrote the walk and took the photos.
1. Roma Lenehan wrote: The birding in the parking lot area can be spectacular in migration. At any season (when the lake is open), you might see or hear a loon or see diving ducks or grebes during migration. Now is also the time that rafts of coots begin to congregate on Lake Mendota and in University Bay. See also the October phenology calendar on the Homepage.
2. Take the wooden staircase down to the stony beach. Admire the view of the lake and the sandstone cliffs bordering it. The sandstone was formed under a shallow sea, in the Cambrian Period, 490 to 500 million years ago. This sandstone is slowly being eroded by the lake water.
3. Return to the parking lot level and walk eastward on the Lakeshore Path. The grand white oak (Quercus alba) is in its autumn glory, and its colorful branches stretch over the trail. Its rounded lobed leaves distinguish it from the red and black oaks that have pointed lobed leaves. As the days shorten, less of the green pigment chlorophyll is produced, and the remaining chlorophyll is broken down and taken back into the tree. The remaining yellow (xanthophyll) and orange (carotene) pigments that were masked by the chlorophyll now appear. While most trees are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves by the end of fall, white oak is one that hangs onto its leaves, especially on the lower branches, which don’t shed leaves until the spring. Small, low patches of purple New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) and yellow zigzag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) bloom on the other side of the path.
4. Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum) on both sides of the path bear abundant 5-lobed yellow leaves arranged opposite of one another on the stem. The sugar maple is Wisconsin’s state tree. Important both economically and ecologically, it is a source of maple syrup, maple sugar and lumber. One of the slower growing maples, it provides food for insects and mammals and nesting habitat for birds. As Sugar Maples and Red Oaks prepare to shed their leaves, a layer of cells grows between the leaf stem and the tree branch. Trapped in the leaves behind that layer of cells, remaining sugars and tannins create anthocyanins pigments that produce dramatic red and purple colors. Typically, the side of the tree receiving full sun turns red, while the shaded side turns yellow. Some of the young maples have spots of gray lichen growing on their bark, mostly on the lakeside of their trunks. One old maple on your right has a huge hollow trunk supporting its branches high in the sky. How does it do that?
5. Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) occurs on both sides of the path. The trees have distinctive large, curving strips of bark on their trunks and large, 30 – 60cm compound leaves with 5 to 7 leaflets. When each leaf falls off in the autumn, a prominent scar remains on the stem. Many of the leaflets appear to be spotted with Hickory anthracnose or leaf spot fungus. Shagbarks are native to the Midwest; the species is a member of the walnut family and makes an edible nut. Hickory nuts were a food source for Native Americans and are still prized by locals.7 But 2020 was an off year for nut production, frustrating our local collectors – see if you see any!
Maple leaves, Goldenrod, Sunlight
All flaunt their farewell.
by Doris Dubielzig
Self-guided Tour for September
Successful Purple Martin Housing Development in Biocore Prairie!
Will Vuyk, our student Board member, writes in the Friends Newsletter, "Come Wandering", “Fall is a wonderful time to lose oneself, and the Lakeshore Nature Preserve is a magical place to go astray.” In this tour to the Purple Martin Housing Development, enjoy the changing seasons in the Preserve and take satisfaction in the Friends’ success in attracting and nurturing Purple Martins, the largest members of the swallow family in North America.
Begin at the entrance to Picnic Point, across from UW Parking Lot 130 (Parking fee M-F, 8-4:30 pm).
Take a left, walking on the service road up the hill with Bill’s Woods on your left.
At the first intersection, go left — Bill’s Woods is still on your left — toward the Heritage Oak on your right.
Just before the Heritage Oak, make a right onto the path to the Biocore Prairie. Winding through maple woods, the path ends at the Biocore Prairie. From Will: “Not a single cloud floats through this clear sky as the last rays of summer break upon your face. Instead, bright plumage fleetingly whispers “white” as seagulls dance like daystars high above.”
Turn left toward the Eagle Heights Community gardens, with their great variety of produce and designs. Look down for voles scampering across the path; look up for a red-tailed hawk hunting the rodents. Make a right on the path between the Biocore Prairie (right) and the Community Gardens (left). In front of you, the Purple Martin Housing Development points to the sky.
Three years ago, in the spring of 2017, a Friends’ team of Purple Martin (PUMA) enthusiasts installed this new Purple Martin house at the edge of Biocore Prairie.3 The site was carefully selected to provide the birds with open flyways and easy access to Lake Mendota. Purple Martins (Progne subis) have a short slightly-hooked beak, broad chest and forked tail. Adult males are uniformly bluish-black. The cavity-nesting Purple Martins use cavities that are already created, either by other animals or in natural cavities of cliffs and rock formations.Traditionally, Purple Martins nested in natural cavities such as old woodpecker holes, on rock ledges, or in dead trees. However, thousands of years ago, people began providing man-made housing for the birds in the form of dried, hollow gourds. Over time, successful nesting of Martins in these man-made homes, paired with the decline of natural cavities, led to a complete behavior shift within the population east of the Mississippi.The artificial/decoy Martins atop some of the compartments attract the real birds to our manmade cavities.
With UW-Madison Forest and Wildlife Ecology Prof. Anna Pidgeon as faculty advisor for this project, the house is maintained by a group of six volunteers, who monitor the house closely throughout the summer months, and keep the compartments free of nests built by other species. By June 2017, the structure had attracted four Purple Martins (PUMA), two of whom nested and produced young. Their four offspring are believed to have fledged successfully in early August 2017.
In 2018, the house attracted two pairs of Purple Martins, but the presence of starlings prevented them from nesting successfully. Consequently, in spring 2019, Starling-resistant entrances were installed. Despite interest by passing PUMA, none nested there.
This year the PUMA apartment house drawers were cleaned, lined with pine needles and opened for occupancy on April 3, 2020. A few days later, monitor Chuck Henrikson was dismayed to see male House Sparrows, “up to no good” — entering and exiting the PUMA compartments — and being watched by a female House Sparrow. By late April, after discouraging the House Sparrows and readying the compartments again for PUMA, we awaited the arrival of the subadult Martins. And waited….See the detailed account of how Citizen Science at work.
Monitor Richard Ness suggested to the team that we might have more success with gourds. Some gourd-raised Martins prefer to build their nests in gourds. In addition, Sparrows avoid the gourds because of their swinging motion, thus removing competition for that real estate. On May 23, Richard Ness installed the two gourds that hang below the house.
Bingo! By June 5, three, year-old, Martins were chattering and gurgling as they solved the problem of entering the Starling-proof gourd entrances. By June 18, four eggs were sighted in the northeast-facing gourd. “Yeahhhh!” By July 2, three of those eggs had hatched, and the nestlings were being nourished with dragonflies, caught by their parents, from Biocore Prairie. The parent Martins removed fecal sacs from the nest, and, with the third PUMA, guarded the gourd and the house from inquisitive House Sparrows.
In the last week of July, as our knowledgeable monitors increased the frequency of their observations to catch the fledging of the three young Martins, they spotted the nestlings poking their heads out of the gourd entrance. The monitors were joined by NINE subadult PUMAs perching on the top bar. And by July 30, the gourds emptied, when the three young PUMA fledged. Escorted by several older Martins, the young birds took their first flights over the prairie toward the lake. Chuck Henrikson wrote, “It takes a village to raise a family, among the PUMAs.”
By mid-October, the PUMA monitors will winterize and close the housing complex. They will remove nest insets, clean the apartments and seal the entrances, lubricate the wire and winching mechanism, and encase the winch with plastic and aluminum tape.
Expecting greater demand by subadults and returning Martins, the PUMA monitors plan to add two more gourds in 2021. See detailed story HERE.
As you continue around the Prairie, through the woods, and back to the entrance, enjoy the fall migration of the warblers and the lake birds that are starting to pass through this Important Birding Area.
Marjorie Rhine's Self-guided Tour for August
Discover the Drama of a Long-Ago Landscape!
Begin at the entrance to Picnic Point, across from UW Parking Lot 130. Notice how the land you are standing on is not far above the level of the lake. Now, consider how geologists have determined that long ago this peninsula, Picnic Point, was a 500-foot bluff made of sandstone and dolomite that towered high above two rivers. What do you think happened to change the landscape? You might think (correctly): the glacier flattened this area. But now ponder: did the glacier shave off the bluffs, or did it fill deep river valleys with rocks and other glacial debris?
Now take a look at the rock wall to the left of the entrance. When Picnic Point was private property and farmed, the owners created this rock wall in 1923 out of field rocks that were collected in the Cross Plains, Wisconsin area. Most of these rocks are glacial erratics, rocks that do not match the bedrock of this area and arrived via the glacier. Why do you think Cross Plains in particular would be a good place to find a lot of glacial erratics? (Hint: Cross Plains marks the beginning of what special area in Wisconsin?). If you want to have more fun with this rock wall, you can use a key available online that identifies all of the rocks: https://www.friendslakeshorepreserve.com/rockwall.html
Now, start walking along the path toward the end of the point with University Bay on your right. Native Americans called this spit of land "Strawberry Point" for the wild strawberries once covering it. At Fire Circle #2, look across the lake at Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus. It's the tallest building you see that looks like a tan rectangle. Van Hise is 243 feet tall (19 stories). When the most recent glacier (the Green Bay Lobe of the Laurentide Ice Sheet) was scouring this area thousands of years ago, the massive ice blanket covering the area was 600 to 800 feet high. Try to imagine ice as high as three Van Hise Buildings stacked on top of each other! Try to picture how the glacier pulled huge boulders and other rocks along beneath its crushing weight, filling what was once a deep river valley with debris. See also Prof. David Mickelson's "Introduction to the Geology of the Preserve" at https://www.friendslakeshorepreserve.com/geology1.html.
Continue your walk to Fire Circle #3. Read the sign on the rock on the right noting that people have gathered on Picnic Point for 12,000 years, from about the time the most recent glacier retreated and the land opened up for habitation. This area’s first inhabitants were descendants of people who migrated across the Bering Land bridge (or, some scholars now argue, used boats to move down the coast of North America before heading into the interior). These people, whom archeologists call the Paleoindians, hunted huge animals like mastodons, beavers as big as bears, and giant sloths as big as our elephants today! Close your eyes and imagine a loud trumpeting call of a mastodon coming from the woods! (You can learn more about these extinct animals, known as Pleistocene megafauna, by doing some research later: look for a book at the library! Or visit the Geology Museum on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus when it is open!). Much later, after Wisconsin became a state, but before 1920, dairy cows would amble to the narrowest part of the peninsula, "the Narrows," and drink from the lake.
As you continue exploring, remember that the land all around us has an interesting story to tell. If you get a chance, other places on the Lakeshore Preserve to explore geological history are the sandstone bluffs visible at Raymer’s Cove and the dolomite outcropping in the woods on the top of Eagle Heights Hill. These areas help you imagine the bluffs that were once part of this dramatic landscape! Learn more about the fascinating, and still evolving, history of the Preserve online at https://lakeshorepreserve.wisc.edu/cultural-and-natural-history-of-the-lakeshore-nature-preserve/.
Free public field trips are one of the most valuable contributions the Friends make to the Preserve. They have been organized every spring and fall for over 10 years on various topics and are all led by Friends volunteers. Many are professional naturalists and emeritus faculty and staff. The Friends also partner with other environmental organizations for field trips.
Field trip coordinator: Doris Dubielzig
Bird and Nature Outings
Free, family-friendly walks on the 4thSunday of the month. Bring your binoculars and camera. Meet at the Picnic Point entrance next to the kiosk (2004 University Bay Drive). Sponsored by the Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, Friends of Urban Nature, and Madison Audubon Society. Meet at the Picnic Point Kiosk, across from UW Lot 130. Contact Paul Noeldner (608-698‑0104).
December 2020 virtual walk