On a beautiful afternoon before Memorial Day, seven Board members of the Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve and two UW students led 15 guests on the 4th Sunday Bird and Nature Outing. Beginning at the entrance to Picnic Point, the leaders demonstrated, over 11 different stops, how the group inspires people to connect to and care for the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. The tour was informative for everyone, including the Board members! It was convenient that at just about 3:00pm, after seven stops, we reached a point where people who had had a long enough visit could return to the entrance. Most decided to spent extra time in the Preserve on this memorial afternoon, completing the full tour of 2 1/2 hours, covering just a bit under 1.5 miles.
Stop 1: UW Student Macy Peterson explained the operations of the UW Bat Brigade. This citizen science project is supported with a $1000 stipend from the Friends.
Stop 2. On the edge of Bill’s Woods, the Friends first project, Friends Secretary Paul Quinlan identified trees and spring ephemerals.
Stop 3. At the UW Grounds compound, President Steve Sentoff explained the problems with the storage of materials and the truck traffic through the Preserve.
Stop 4. Gisela Kutzbach, Membership Chair and Webmaster, related how the Friends provided volunteer labor for and funding of the Heritage Oak project, and how the recreated savannah connects Bill’s Woods to the Biocore Prairie.
Stop 5. Alder Levin, recent UW graduate, described how the Biocore Prairie is used as a teaching laboratory and as a site for undergraduate research projects, including her own award-winning study on first flowering dates of prairie plants.
Stop 6. Gisela Kutzbach and Tom Morgan explained the bluebird house project, which monitors the number and kinds of nesting birds and their eggs. They showed the group a tree swallow nest in one of the bluebird houses. Gisela also summarized the Friends efforts to attract Purple Martins to the Preserve, with the installation of a house with “luxury condominiums” for the social, cavity-nesting birds.
Stop 7. Steve Sentoff reviewed the history of the East Savanna and the use of fire to encourage young oaks to thrive over invasive buckthorn. The Friends are contributing up to $7,500 toward the salaries of five Prairie Partners Interns, who are working in the Preserve each Thursday this summer. Last week the Interns pulled garlic mustard from the East Savanna.
Stop 8. Across from two linear mounds, Ethnobotanist Eve Emshwiller explained the different kinds of earthen structures that the Mound Builders created in Wisconsin and how the Picnic Point mounds are especially old.
Stop 9. MJ Morgan, Editor of the Friends newsletter, and her husband Tom have begun a project collecting and identifying lichens in the Preserve. Their work is especially important because very few Preserve lichen specimens are in the Herbarium and the unusual plants are in decline due to environmental degradation.
Stop 10. Matt Chotlos, UW Student Board member, described the Friends’ participation in Water Quality Monitoring with the Clean Lakes Alliance. He demonstrated how water clarity is determined with a turbidity tube, and explained how to distinguish green algae from blue-green algae (cyanobacteria).
Stop 11. At the entrance to Picnic Point, Doris Dubielzig, Field Trip Coordinator, showed one of the areas that the Friends had planted in 2018 during our annual Spring Planting. She expressed the Friends’ hope that the Class of 1918 Marsh, across University Bay Drive, will benefit from restoration efforts to return it to a sedge meadow community.
Doris Dubielzig, the Friends host for this field tri, coordinated this special Board Walk and provided the report, Photos by Doris and Gisela.
The 2019 Wildflower Planting Project along a new path to the Biocore Prairie from the Frautschi Point Parking lot was a great success. Despite the heavy overcast sky and with rain predicted later in the morning, 16 volunteers came out ready plant, adding much cheer to this day and planting joyful sights for summer visitors. The five designated planting areas, plus a sixth area at the parking lot, were cleared of buckthorn about three years ago. For the last two years, speckled sunlight reaching the forest floor again encouraged wood flowers seeds in the ground to sprout. Thus, the project planners—a team of Friends and Preserve staff—could be assured that additional plantings will be reasonably successful. The plants ordered were divided into six batches, each batch selected to be most suitable for planting in a specific plot area, considering the amount of sunlight and slope direction and soil moisture. Monitoring the plantings this and next year will help us further improve the management of spring planting projects.
Our team included volunteers recruited at field trips and on Earth Day, as well as 4 past presidents of the Friends: Ann Burgess, Janis Cooper, Glenda Denniston, Doris Dubielzig, Gisela Kutzbach, Roma Lenehan, MJ Morgan, Tom Morgan, Biss Nitschke, John Pfender, Holly Regan, Marj Rhine, Steve Sentoff, Monica Sentoff, Will Waller, Trisha Zhu. Bryn Scriver of the Preserve Staff supervised the planting.
We used the efficient predator spades to plant the wildflowers with minimum disturbance of surrounding soil. When it started to rain around 11:00 am, the bulk of the plants was in the ground, and we left the rest for another day. See the full list of plants at Projects. We gathered for a quick round of refreshments with fruits, cheese and baked things. There was much satisfaction about enhancing this restoration area of Frautschi Woods with native flowering plants, sedges and grasses. The rain gently watered the new plantings. Photos provided by Glenda Denniston, Gisela Kutzbach, Bryn Scriver.
Added: On May 24, the remaining plants were planted by Preserve seasonal staff in the designated plots.
On Wednesday May 15th, twenty Friends and bird lovers ventured into the Preserve with Roma Lenehan in search of migratory warblers. Beautiful weather and bright sunshine provided the perfect environment for chasing these fluttering migrants through the high canopy of Frautschi Point.
Many of the warblers we encountered on the walk were traveling from warm wintering grounds in Central and South America; passing through Madison on their way to northern breeding areas. Madison bird lovers rejoice during this brief migration window because it offers a chance to see many different warblers in one location. Every day brings new species arrivals, making birding during this season especially exciting and adventurous. On this morning, fifteen species of warblers were identified. It’s evident that warblers love the Preserve just as much as we do.
Among the highlights of the Warbler Walk was an encounter with the rare and endangered Golden-winged Warbler. Roma explained that this species is experiencing a rapid and severe decline due to habitat destruction and hybridization with a similar species, the Blue-winged Warbler. It was evident that the opportunity to see and learn about such a rare bird was special as the “Oohs” and “Ahhs” rising up from the birding group prompted passing joggers to crane their heads in curiosity.
The 15 warblers identified were Nashville Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Northern Parula, Golden-winged Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Black-throated, Green Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut-sided Warbler, American Redstart, Tennessee Warbler, Palm Warbler, Magnolia Warbler. A full list of the 56 species of birds identified on the two-hour walk is below.
All along the hike, Roma shared her vast knowledge about what the birds do, where they came from, what their behavior means, what their calls sound like, and how/where best to spot certain species. Attendees were treated to a fun and educational morning and got to see many exciting and colorful spring migrants. New birders on the trip learned that searching for warblers invariably leads to staring straight up into tall trees where these elusive creatures flutter about. Seasoned birders joked about having “warbler neck”. Beginner or veteran, all attendees left this Friends walk knowing that warblers are one pain in the neck that’s well worth it. Report and photos by Seth McGee, Friends host for this event.
Tom Brock, charter member of the Friends of the Preserve and E.B. Fred Professor of Natural Sciences, Dept. of Bacteriology, Emeritus, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin for his lifetime achievements. Tom Givnish, Professor of Botany & Environmental Studies, initiated the nomination. Brock has progressed through a remarkable career, reinventing himself several times but always innovating and transforming his chosen fields. Professor Don Waller of the Botany department notes in his support letter that Tom Brock's "commitment to his science, developing new knowledge and tools, and applying this knowledge to improve human and natural communities embody the values UW seeks to teach and share with students and other citizens.”
With his wife Kathie, also a microbiologist, Tom became deeply involved in conservation ecology. During the 1990s, as residents of Shorewood Hills, Tom and Kathie started volunteer work in what was then called Campus Natural Areas (CNA). Garlic Mustard which they had discovered in the Preserve in 1995, was the motivating factor. They informed the Arboretum of the Garlic Mustard and sent them a check to help get control work started. Subsequently, the Director of the Arboretum Greg Armstrong asked the Brocks to organize volunteer activities at the CNA. For several years, from April 1997-1999, the Brocks led regular Sunday volunteer parties, removing Garlic Mustard and cutting Buckthorn and Honeysuckle. Bob Goodman, Henry Hart, Tom Helgeson, Susan Slapnick, Glenda Denniston, and others joined them. The Brocks also helped the Arboretum, then still in charge of CNA, raise money to support the area and hire Cathie Bruner in 1997 as Field Manager. The Friends of the Campus Natural Areas (since 2005 Lakeshore Nature Preserve) was officially formed on September 19, 2001.
Today, Tom and Kathie Brock are widely acclaimed for the restoration of their Pleasant Valley Conservancy property near Black Earth, which has become a model for land managers and a training ground for the next generation of restoration ecologists. See also TOM's BLOG. Tom and Kathie have published (2019) a two volume online book detailing 25 years of restoration, land management techniques, restoration results, and lessons learned (see Pleasant Valley Conservancy website.).
"While a young professor in microbiology at Indiana, Tom discovered in 1970 the extreme thermophile Thermus aquaticus thriving in a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park. The discovery debunked a key piece of conventional wisdom in biology — that life could not exist past about 158 degrees Fahrenheit. The bacteria’s heat-resistant DNA replicating machinery, Taq polymerase, was turned into a bedrock of modern molecular biology. In 1971, Brock joined the faculty of the Department of Bacteriology at Wisconsin, continuing his ground breaking research on microbes." See more at UW NEWS.
The PULLERS, from left: Galen Hasler, Glenda Denniston, Olympia Mathiaparanam, Doris Dubielzig, Roma Lenehan, Kennedy Gilchrist, Steve Sentoff, Steve Rasmussen, Karen Nakasone, Gisela Kutzbach, Marcia Schmidt, Monica Sentoff, Seth McGee. Not shown Peter Fisher, Cyndy Galloway, Dan Anderson, Mitch Thomas. Photo by Bryn Scriver.
The forecast had been rain, but it turned out to be a warm and mostly sunny afternoon—perfect for enticing our volunteers to come out and help clear the Frautschi Point woods area of Garlic Mustard plants. Roma Lenehan, the Friends great Garlic Mustard warrior, explained that this is an "off-year" with many small plants near the ground, not yet in bloom in their first year. Our strong team of 15 volunteers and leaders Roma and Bryn Scriver, Preserve volunteer coordinator, pulled for 2 1/2 hours. Then our leaders compacted the harvested plants into 6 large bags. These volunteer days in the woods with the Friends are wonderful hours of connecting with old friends, welcoming new friends, learning and sharing and, of course, working a few hours for a great cause. Come and join our Wildflower Planting Party on Saturday May 18, 9:00 am–Noon at Frautschi Point.
The 2019 Earth Day conference of the Nelson Institute at Monona Terrace focused on "Stories from a Changing World". Key note speakers were Robin Bronin of the Alaska Institute for Justice, Yolanda Joab-Mori, a climate activist of Micronesia, and Dan Vimont of the UW Center for Climatic Research.They helped the audience understand the life changing effects of climate change by telling stories of indicviduals and communities in which they live. Presenters in the break-out sessions also included stories to shed light on issues relating to resiliency, adaption, environmental leadership, problem solving through video gaming, global health, diets, and wildlife adaptations.
The Friends and Preserve Staff were one of 50 exhibitors, joining other area environmental and climate change related organizations. Breaks between session were times for networking among colleagues and sharing about the Preserve with visitors. .Bryn Scriver and Adam Gundlach represented the Preserve, Gisela Kutzbach, Doris Dubielzig and Steve Sentoff represented the Friends. Photos Bryn Scriver.