About 15 people including a couple families with several kids helped kick off the 4th Sunday Bird and Nature Adventure at UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve on a cold but partly sunny day, with a rousing rendition of the Winter Solstice favorite "Oh Tannenbaum".
The group walked with Paul Noeldner and Doris Dubielzig to look at and talk about the Friends' Favorite Places. Paul began by asking the attendees what their favorite places were in the Preserve. While several people were newcomers to the Preserve, others gave answers that ranged from the birds on University Bay to the waves at the end of the Point to the Biocore Prairie. Our tour satisfactorily explored those places and more. Doris stopped at the Native American Mounds on Picnic Point and reported what she had learned of the indigenous people who made them and the significance of the mounds. She then related the recent discovery of a 1200-year-old dugout canoe further west in Lake Mendota to the Effigy Mound Builders who lived in this area at the time. Paul’s favorite place is the Beach Wetland Trail along the northern side of the Point, which provided shelter from the wind and a glimpse of the prothonotary warbler nest boxes in Picnic Point Marsh.
The birds Chuck Keleney helped spot along the way had favorite places too, including the 3 and possibly 4 Bald Eagles that love to perch in the huge Cottonwoods along the Beach Wetland Trail, and large flocks of Coots, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganzers and Tundra Swans that love the wind-sheltered areas near shore along University Bay. The biggest bird surprise was a Mallard male swimming alongside an unusually small looking female that turned out to be a Pied-Billed Grebe. The only owl spotted turned out to be a distant tree snag with convincingly Great Horned Owl looking ears.
Chuck Keleny and Claudia Craemer assisted Paul in identifying birds. Report by Doris Dubielzig. All photos by Paul Noeldner. Goldfinch nest photo by Claudia Craemer.
The 4th Sunday Bird and Nature Adventure at UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve on November 28 featured "Fun Fall Birding" with avid birder Chuck Henrikson. About a dozen people including families and kids learned from Chuck about Wisconsin migrant bird species and some handy birding apps (eBird, Merlin, Birdnet) and took a walk to see what birds were coming through on a cold bright windy late fall day.
The first bird spotted was a magnificent Bald Eagle that soared low over the shoreline trees and fortunately did not alarm and flush the large flocks of migrating waterfowl on the bay that the group wanted to observe. They were joined along the path for a time by about a dozen more Picnic Point visitors. Newly restored shoreline areas where Preserve staff have facilitated removal of invasive trees and brush and left large natural stumps to sit on for quiet nature observation provided great views. Birds seen on University Bay included dozens of large graceful Tundra Swans, hundreds of Bufflehead and Canada Geese flashing white markings in the sun, flocks of cute black American Coot, and several large billed Northern Shovelers and brightly patterned Hooded Mergansers. Lower winter water levels, quiet surroundings and healthy aquatic habitat provide acres of much needed critical shallow water rest areas for the thousands of native waterfowl that dabble and dive for nourishment on this important annual bird migration stopover site.
Land birds seen on the relatively calm leeward side of Picnic Point along the bay included elusive Brown Creepers, several species of Woodpeckers, a couple late-staying Gold Crowned Kinglets and a rare sighting of a solitary Hermit Thrush spotted foraging on shoreline mudflats by only one but very credible birder. Several participants stopped after the walk at the Lot 9 boat landing for close up enjoyment of the graceful Tundra Swans, a possible Trumpeter Swan and a couple more waterfowl species.
December will offer more opportunities to visit the UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve to see some of these beautiful migrating birds even after ice forms as long as there is still some open water. Join the Friends of Lakeshore Nature Preserve the 4th Sunday of December to visit Favorite Places at the Preserve. Bundle up and enjoy nature doing its thing!
The following Citizen Science bird observation data was reported to Cornell Labs via eBird as outing leader Chuck Henrikson has consistently done every day for over 1400 days. You can do eBird reporting too and help provide scientific data that helps guide climate and ecological choices. Photos and report by the Friends' host Paul Noeldner.