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.