On a beautiful afternoon, Glenda Denniston led 26 participants on a Spring Wildflowers Walk in Bill's Woods at the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Bill’s Woods was the earliest Friends restoration project, begun in 2001 by Glenda and other visionaries.Glenda explained the restoration and showed pictures of what the site looked like before the restoration, when it was basically just a thicket of buckthorn. Although our unusually cool spring has delayed many of the wildflowers, we saw many kinds including Bloodroot, Virginia Bluebells, Trout Lily, Dutchman's Breeches, Hepatica, Spring Beauty, and several Trillium species about to bloom. Glenda identified the plants and explained a bit of their natural history. As a special bonus, one of the participants spotted two Barred Owlets in the tops of two of the trees in Bill's Woods. The Friends hosts were Steve Sentoff and Doris Dubielzig. Photos by Steve Sentoff and Glenda Denniston.
Several of our last field trip hosts reported on spotting the Barred Owl and even owlets in Bill's Woods. Here is a close-up. Photo my Mike Bailey.
The Friends and Preserve staff joined forces to promote the Preserve with an exhibit at the Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference at Monona Terrace. Bryn Scriver and Adam Gundlach represented Preserve staff and Gisela Kutzbach, who coordinated the exhibit for the Preserve, and Doris Dubielzig and Steve Sentoff represented the Friends. About 100 exhibitors displayed materials relating to environmental causes. The exhibition hall was a great place for networking and engaging participants of the conference. The theme of this year's conference was Up for the Challenge: Innovation for People, Places and the Planet. Keynote speakers and breakout sessions explored challenges and solutions through local and global lenses.
At least 25 people including students and kids joined Wisconsin Young Birder Ryan Treves for the 4th Sunday of the month Bird and Nature Outing hosted by Madison FUN co-sponsors Madison Audubon and Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Birding was great right out of the gate (literally)! Everyone in the group plus many other folks out enjoying Nature Recreation on a 60 degree Spring day stopped to use binocs, scopes and zoom cameras to see a young Barred Owl posing quite visible in the doorway of its hollow nest tree near the stone entrance to Picnic Point. Other highlights seen by various participants included a Screech Owl, a Catbird mewing near the Picnic Point entrance, a couple of Northern Flickers exhibiting pair bonding poses with flaired wings and tail, both Ruby and Gold-crowned Kinglets, a Horned Grebe as well as a Pied-billed, and at least two Purple Martins which have also been observed recently at the Biocore Prairie Martin House. Friends super volunteer Glenda Denniston was also spotted in the shrubbery, industriously helping remove fresh Garlic Mustard sprouts ;) Photos by Paul Noeldner.
On a blustery Sunday afternoon about 90 enthusiastic nature friends and families attended the 6th Annual hands-on Nature Exploration Stations at Picnic Point, organized by the Friends of the Preserve. Visitors stopped at four exploration stations to learn from experts about rocks and fossils, trees, birds, and effigy mounds in the Preserve. Each visitor received an 8-page booklet with explanations and hands-on activities at each station. Children engaged in related activities at each station. Our expert leaders shared their knowledge and enthusiasm for the Preserve.
Doris Dubielzig of the Friends coordinated the work of the four Exploration Station leaders and their student assistants. Tom Zinnen, UW organizer of this campus-wide event, strongly supported our efforts. Preserve staff was also consulted in preparing for this event. All in all 20 volunteers contributed their time and talents. Report by Gisela Kutzbach
Geologic gems: David Mickelson and Carol McCartney, assisted by Scot Moss
Tree treasures: Diane Dempsey and Stefanie Wilbrand
Birding Basics: Carolyn Byers and Paul Noeldner
Mound makers: Amy Rosebrough
Greeters; Kennedy Gilchrist, Gisela Kutzbach
Student volunteers: Olympia Mathiaparanam plus 7 students from Bradley Hall: Paige Nelson (Geology station 1), Erik Zetina and Ekaterina Kabev (Tree station 2), Weijia Cao and Jacob Fauble (Birds station 3), Ron Li and Chris Massey (mound station 4)
Photographs Gisela Kutzbach and Paul Noeldner.
Station 1: Geologic Gems. Examples of rocks from around Wisconsin, including sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks, metamorphic rocks, as well as iron ore, coral and more. The exhibit also included bore samples of various types of rocks, which showed how rock layers were formed over time. Children enjoyed free samples of Wisconsin's state rock, which is granite. There was also a key and bingo game to many types of rocks in the distinctive rock wall that frames the entrance of Picnic Point. Resources provided by UW Extension, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey.
Station 2: Tree Treasures. Visitors could hone their skills in identifying trees in winter, based on the appearance of tree trunks, the shape of small tree twigs and buds, and leaf litter on the forest floor. Visitors also learned about how Native Americans used the tree treasurers of the forest and had a chance to built their on paper (birch) basket. Resources provided by Diane Dempsey, UW Arboretum naturalist.
Station 3. Birding Basics. Here adults and children alike enjoyed using the various types of binoculars to spot common birds out in the marsh cattails and on the lake. There were also several high power spotting scopes for a good steady look at birds, as well as handmade binoculars from toilet paper rolls. Visitors also learned a about calls and song patterns of various birds, and bird shapes. Considering the cold, wintery day, and observations from the site of the station only, the list of birds for that day is impressive.
Station 4. Mound Makers. Located at Fire circle 2, just past the linear and conical mounds along the path. All mounds were used to mark gravesites. The early mounds, mostly conical and linear, were used for burial of people of significance. Most of the effigy mounds, built in the shape of animals, birds, spirits and people from about 750-1000 AD, were used for burials of bone "bundles", representing the remains of up to 60 people. The prominent cone mound near the isthmus of Picnic Point was also used as a group "bundle" burial site for many people. The effigy mound builders were ancestors of today's Ho-Chunk and other nations.
About 85 people attended the 16th Annual Meeting of the Friends, held at the Arboretum Visitor Center on a cold and icy winter day in April, to hear retired Wisconsin State Archeologist Bob Birmingham speak about the mound-building culture in the Four Lakes region (see the summary below).
Outgoing president Gisela Kutzbach reviewed the work of the Friends in 2017, highlighting the many people who have made volunteer contributions during the year and thanking the members for the support they provide with time and money. Contributions include: field trips, raising and planting native plants, garlic mustard removal, and citizen science in the form of plant monitoring, birding, bat monitoring, bluebird trail and purple martin house support. In addition, the Friends have made significant financial contributions, supporting five Prairie Partner Interns since 2007, as well as direct contributions to the stewardship of the Preserve and other projects. She emphasized the good cooperation we have with with the Preserve staff.
Gary Brown, UW Director of the Lakeshore Preserve, introduced the Preserve staff: Laura Wyatt, Bryn Scriver and Adam Gundlach. He reported that the University continued to support the work at the Preserve without budget cuts. One major project last year was the renovation of Fire Circle 3 with the donation from an alumnus.
Adam Gundlach, field project coordinator of the Preserve, summarized the restoration work in Eagle Heights Woods since 2014, with the financial support of the Friends EHW fundraiser. The work has included vegetation surveys, hazard tree removal to protect trail users and the mounds, trail reconfiguration to reduce erosion and impact to the mounds, brush removal and prescribed fires. The staff has provided tours at the site for the Friends and for classes. Continuing work planned for the site includes: ongoing brush removal, resprout control, oak regeneration, trail management and improvements to the herbaceous layer.
The Friends thanked departing Board members Carolyn Byers, Galen Hasler, and Mike Parsen for their excellent services for the Friends and the Preserve and elected new Board members Lillian Tong and Steve Sellwood, and returning Board members Gisela Kutzbach, Olympia Mathiaparanam, and Mitchell Thomas. The crowd enjoyed the appetizers and deserts as well as informative poster exhibits. Doris Dubielzig, Vice president, was the excellent MC for the meeting, and Carolyn Byers and Glenda Denniston recorded the event in photos.
Robert Birmingham, who authored (with Amy Rosebrough) Indian Mounds of Wisconsin, noted that mound building only occurred in a relatively short period, even though people were in the area since the glaciers receded about 13,000 years ago. The reason for the beginning of the mound-building culture is still not certain; it seems to coincide with a period of increasing population and cultural complexity, about 2000 years ago. At this time, round burial mounds seem to appear and be used for social elites. This period seems to have lasted about 400 years.
From about 700 AD to 1100 AD, there was another period of mound building, which produced the effigy mounds that are present in the area. This period seems to have ended with the invasion of the Mississippian culture from Cahokia, which can be seen at the site at Aztalan. Probably this culture blended with the pre-existing culture in the area and is ancestral to the native Ho-Chunk people of this area today.
There may have been 15,000–20,000 mounds in southern Wisconsin originally. Most have been destroyed, although preservation work (much of which was started by Charles E. Brown in the early 1900’s) has protected many of them. Nowadays the public has far more regard for the mounds and is much more interested in protecting them. Some new mounds are still being identified.