Doris led the first part, telling stories of the history of Picnic Point. At the stone wall by the entrance, we looked at the variety of rocks carried by the most recent glacier to Southern Wisconsin, and which Picnic Point landowner Edward Young had made into a wall as a wedding gift for his bride in 1925. We walked past Bill’s Woods to the site of the Youngs’ house, on a hill that had a beautiful view of Lake Mendota. We looked for, and found, pavers that remained after that house was destroyed in a fire in 1935. Following the path toward University Bay, the group fanned out, as the birders identified and pointed out birds they sighted to the attendees who stayed near them. One of the best things about the Friends’ field trips is how willing people are to share their expertise, and the 4th Sunday outings attract expert birders to this Important Birding Area. Pam and R. Dion Carmona, from Chicago, who were visiting a relative at UW Hospital, found our trip listed on the internet. They generously identified numerous bird species, and compiled the bird list below. We caught up with Doris near the two conical effigy mounds built by the Late Woodland people. She related some of the history of the Native Americans who originally lived on the shores of Lake Mendota, and she read an excerpt of Madison Mayor Augustus Bird’s 1847 speech about the removal of the Indians from their lands around Lake Mendota.
On University Bay, we saw tundra swans, mallard ducks, common goldeneye ducks, bufflehead ducks, common merganser, ring-billed gulls, an immature eagle who sat for a long time on the ice eating prey, American coot, Red-breasted merganser, Redhead duck, Gadwall duck, American wigeon, and Lesser scaup. Earlier on our walk through the wooded part of the trail, we saw Red-tailed hawks, Rough-legged hawk, Downy woodpecker, Black-capped chickadee, Canada geese flying in formation, Blue jay, American crow, White-breasted nuthatch, Sandhill cranes, and American goldfinch.
Participants were invited to share on post-it notes their favorite parts or memories of the Preserve:
- *I have fond memories of Paddles from Willow Beach around the shoreline. We saw birds, turtles, lilies, carp, and my wife’s favorite— liverworts— under Shorewood homes.
- *Many people to share our afternoon at Picnic Point viewing birds
- *I grew up going to Picnic Point with my family. I remember picnics in the fire ring, the pump, my first Great Horned Owl.
- *Like to see all the people enjoying the nature right in the city.