The Annual Meeting 2022 was held in-person, after two years of zoom meetings during the pandemic. About 70 people attended and another 20 joined the live streamed meeting on Zoom.
Drawing point was our keynote speaker Janice Rice, Ho-Chunk Nation tribal member and lecturer at the UW -Madison Information School. President Olympia Mathiaparanam addressed attendees via Zoom, streamed on screen at the Arboretum, while Will Vuyk gave the Friends Annual Report in-person and remembered Lil Tong, who passed away recently. Subsequently, Kelly Kearns thanked departing Board members for their service, Eve Emshwiller, Dane Gallagher, Seth McGee, Olympia Mathiarapanam and Paul Noeldner. Friends Vice president Seth McGee introduced the new slate of candidates for the Board of directors and conducted their election. New to the Board are Reba Luiken, Diana Tapia Ramon, Cole Roecker, Josh Sulman and Tom Zinnen. Also, MJ Morgan and Will Vuyk began their second terms, with Will being president elect. The entire event was organized by Olympia Mathiarapanam, Annual meeting chair, and Will Vuyk, MC. The technical feat of seamlessly switching the screen from Zoom to live Powerpoints was done by Anne Pearce. Report here by Gisela Kutzbach. Photos by Glenda Denniston and Gisela Kutzbach.
Preserve Director Gary Brown thanked the Friends for financial supported of the new Master Plan and introduced Preserve staff. Rhonda James, UW-Madison senior landscape architect, discussed the structure of the new Master Plan and invited the audience to attend the Master Plan Public Meeting on April 26, 2022 | 7:00 pm at Memorial Union.
Janice Rice gave the keynote address, Voices and Values of Teejop (Four Lakes): A Hoocąk (Ho-Chunk), Winnebago) Perspective. Janice, Peacemaker for the Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court, wove together her academic findings with the voices of her Hoocąk ancestors. She traced her own cultural roots in the Teejop homelands and southern Wisconsin, illustrating her stories of Hoocąk leaders, villages and cultural values with photographs and maps. Ho-chunk villages once dotted the shorelines of the Four Lakes (Teejop).
Rice also related the stories of repeated forced removal of the Ho-chunk people from their ancestral lands to reservations further west and their determination to return to their homes. She explained the circumstances of the 1837 treaty that ceded all their lands in Wisconsin. The treaty itself was made under suspicious conditions, as the Ho-Chunk were not aware that it gave them only eight months to leave their ceded lands. The army attempted to remove the tribe to the Neutral Ground. Iowa, in 1841, but many Ho-Chunk came back to Wisconsin. Eventually, by the 1880s, the government decided to allow the Ho-Chunk to take up 40-acre farms and remain in Wisconsin.
By contextualizing the landscape of Teejop with the deep histories, personal stories, and current vibrance of the Hoocąk community, Rice afforded us the opportunity to see the Preserve and the surrounding areas of Madison from a new perspective. As the Friends, we will strive to honor this perspective in our actions and care for the Preserve moving forward.
The sunshine brought out about a dozen people to our early spring migrants walk led by Friends board member Dane Gallagher and Friends host Anne Pearce. We were greeted at the Picnic Point entrance by singing song sparrows and spotted one in the grass in front of the stone wall. A great sign of spring!
While much of Lake Mendota is still frozen over, University Bay's open water hosted a raft of waterfowl. Luckily for us, the nearby ice kept the birds closer to shore, so we could see many of the ducks well without a spotting scope. A few stops along the Picnic Point path provided great looks at a variety of waterfowl, including American coot, lesser scaup, redhead, bufflehead, canvasback, and ring-necked ducks, in addition to the familiar mallards and Canada geese. Off in the distance, we saw two common loons, and even further away was a pair of common mergansers. We kept our eyes to the ice and the sky in hopes of seeing a bald eagle, but we did not see any today!
Back on land, there were American robins and common grackles searching through the leaf litter. In one sunny spot, sheltered from the north wind, we were greeted by several black-capped chickadees, including a pair that were going in and out of a tree cavity, possibly building a nest! We also had a very cooperative golden-crowned kinglet flitting around at eye level right next to the path. We watched a red-bellied woodpecker searching for food in the crevices of shagbark hickory bark and a few downy woodpeckers working along some twigs. Later in the walk, we happened upon a white-breasted nuthatch and talked about how they also search for insects in tree bark, though unlike their woodpecker friends, they do it with their heads pointed down!
While we enjoyed the sunshine and birds, the cold wind and icy lake definitely had people wishing for the warmer part of spring to arrive soon. Before we know it, we'll see even more birds and the spring wildflowers will add some more color to the forest floor. Report and photos by Anne Pearce.
The 4th Sunday of the month Madison FUN Bird and Nature Adventure at UW Lakeshore Preserve was led by Chuck Henrikson with help from Friends board members Signe Holtz and Paul Noeldner. A diverse group of about 30 people including some families with kids gathered at Pucnic Point, and about 10 more joined later to enjoy looking and listening for Winter Birds. Expert birder by ear Charles Naeseth joined the group along the way to help with the search.
After a fairly slow start quite a few species were seen and heard and pointed out by various members of the group, including a 7 year old boy and his brother who loved chasing down the trail after flashes of feathers with kids binocs in hand to see what kind if bird was flitting in the bushes. Several people in the group spotted a Northern Flicker and a Coopers Hawk that swooped by overhead at treetop height. The tinkling call and partial sighting of a Brown Creeper also grabbed their attention. One person reported seeing an American Robin at the Preserve before joining up with the group. Everyone enjoyed walking back along the ice covered Lake Mendota shoreline and helped scan distant jagged upthrust ice ridges for reported possible Snowy Owls. A couple likely looking large white bird shaped lumps actually took flight but proved to be Herring Gulls. Report Paul Noeldner. Friends host Signe Holtz.
The highlight of the day was a beautiful Barred Owl (Strix varia) perched near a known previous tree hollow nest site where its mate may already be brooding eggs that will hatch in about a month.
A small but enthused group of hearty nature lovers braved the winter cold on Sunday January 23 to join the "Winter Wonderland" 4th Sunday of the month Bird and Nature Adventure at UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve led by Paul Noeldner and Chuck Henrikson and Friends host Anne Pearce. Several other folks joined for short periods along the way before heading back someplace warm out of the chill wind.
Most birds were taking shelter too but there were enough drumming woodpeckers that made appearances, cheery chickadees grooming oak treetop buds, chipping cardinals in bushes, and yank yanking nuthatches climbing tree trunks to keep cold fingers busy focusing freezing binoculars.
Other Winter Wonderland Wonders the participants enjoyed were walking in sparkling white fluffy snow that blanketed tree limbs and pine boughs, talking about the beautiful fractal patterns of snowflakes and the safe sheltered subnivian (beneath the snow) layer that sintering (coalescing) snow provides for hiding, feeding and shelter out of the wind for a host of wild things, seeing the freshly scattered tracks and trails of mice, voles, squirrels, deer, fox and bunnies that scampered about and dove into holes in the snow and cavities in logs and trees and looking them up in Critter Trax and iTracks apps, celebrating Squirrel Appreciation Day and admiring lofty squirrel dreys cleverly suspended in high branches, spotting an odd looking abandoned wasp nest missing the top half due to blue jays foraging for grubs, and scanning jagged ice edges on University Bay hoping to spot two Snowy Owls recently reported to be in the area from the frozen Arctic.
Winter birding and nature outings are always surprisingly fun and rewarding, just remember to dress warm. Inexpensive hand and toe warmers help when it is especially cold out and Chuck Henrikson showed everyone the latest and greatest solution, a USB rechargable hand warmer!
On Sunday, January 16, David Drake, the UW-Extension Wildlife Specialist and Professor of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, led a group of 52, including 13 children, from the Picnic Point entrance to the old orchard. The crowd that gathered on that chilly afternoon was eager to learn how he and his students attract and track foxes and coyotes in the UW-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Drake began by describing the categories of animals that live in the Preserve -- birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles -- and identified the numbers of species of each that live in Wisconsin. As he led the group up the hill past Bill’s Woods, a red-tailed hawk flew overhead and Drake pointed out evidence of squirrel and pileated woodpecker activity in the area. He described the differences between the gray, red and flying squirrels that live in this area, and suggested positioning motion-sensored red lights near our birdfeeders to reveal the nocturnal visits by flying squirrels.
The recent snowfall provided fresh turkey tracks and gave the 13 children opportunities for their own ground level discoveries.
Off trail, in the old orchard field where the Urban Canid Project traps coyotes and red foxes, Drake demonstrated how they set cable restraints to trap the animals humanely. Shortly after another red-tailed hawk (a buteo) flew overhead, a sharp-shinned/Cooper’s hawk (an accipiter) winged into Caretaker’s Woods. After noting the anatomical differences that allow the two birds to navigate the different habitats, Drake explained how his researchers handle, examine and outfit the canids with $1200 radio collars that enable the Project to track their movements throughout the Preserve and the city. A small blood sample is collected from each animal and submitted for COVID-19 testing as part of a study to learn whether the canids are carriers of the disease.
The group had many questions for Professor Drake, which he answered expertly and clearly from his vast knowledge of wildlife ecology. As the UW Extension Specialist in Biotechnology, Friends host Tom Zinnen was particularly proud of his colleague’s presentation. Report by Doris Dubielzig and Tom Zinnen
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.
The October 24 "Kids Bird Explorers" UW Science Fest and 4th Sunday Friends of UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve, partnering with Madison FUN Bird and Nature Adventure, had a small but steady stream of families and kids. They were full of enthusiasm, conversation, and questions from the moment the event started at 1pm. About 50 people visited the popup canopy at the Picnic Point entrance area, some for only a few minutes and some for an hour or more. They enjoyed taking Linda Malkin's Audubon Bird ID challenge quizzes, looked at the bird education displays and took Friends brochures, Preserve maps and FUN outing flyers. Individuals and families enjoyed bird talks and walks with Chuck Henrikson of the Friends and learned about the magic of feathers. Kids of all ages took home ziplock bags with Owl Binocs and Fuzzy Bird activity kits. Among the participants there were people of all ages and various ethnicities, a number of people from around Wisconsin and from out of state, a family that had given all their kids middle names that are names of birds, and a UW Wildlife Ecology student who is thrilled to be helping with Bird Banding at the Preserve. The impending rain fortunately held off until after 3pm and nobody got wet except about 1000 cackling Coots on University Bay. Host for this field trip, and report and photos: Paul Noeldner.
What’s the most commonly eaten insect on earth? How do dung beetles help farmers around the globe? What do insects, bonsai trees and haikus have in common? *
Preserve visitors explored these questions, and many more, with Dr. Marjorie Rhine on October 23, 2021. Dr. Rhine, a professor in the Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, led 18 participants on a hike entitled “Insect Super-Powers in Japanese Pop Culture”. The event, organized and sponsored by the Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, was part of the 2021 Wisconsin Science Festival. Dr. Rhine engaged visitors with bark and beetles before the hike. During the walk, she used hand puppets and illustrations from an elegant scrapbook to make her points. In addition, she recruited a friend, Dr. Andrea Gargas, to talk about fungi they encountered on the walk.
Strolling down Picnic Point, participants discovered a myriad of invertebrates while discussing their connections to past and present cultures. Slugs, lady bugs, galls, bees, crickets, dragonflies, and (of course) beetles were all examined for their superpowers.
The conversation incorporated conservation; a recurring theme along the hike which highlighted how all the components of an ecosystem are intricately connected: trees communicating through underground fungal networks, dung beetles orienting themselves by the light of the Milky Way, and prairie plants helping to initiate butterfly migration by causing hormonal shifts in monarchs.
The thread that tied all of the group’s observations together was how the intricate ecology of the Lakeshore Preserve is linked to our own lives, present society, and to cultures of the past. Dr. Rhine pointed out how samurai armor is segmented, much like the protective and versatile bodies of insects, how the miraculous metamorphosis of larva to adult butterfly represents hope and rebirth in many cultures, and how many pop icons like Pokémon and Transformers are ideas derived from insects.
The hike was capped off with participants doing the “waggle dance”. A form of communication that is important in bee communities, the waggle dance is how honeybees communicate precise coordinates of a food source to other bees in their colony. Using dance moves to indicate direction (relative to the orientation of the sun) and distance (the duration of the dance) two young Friends waggled their way to a cache of fruit snacks hidden within the Biocore Prairie. A sweet ending to a sensational walk.
* Answers: 1) beetles 2) they improve livestock health and soil quality by “recycling” feces 3) they encapsulate infinitely complex concepts into tiny, elegant packages. Friends Host, report and photos: Seth McGee
Explore these links to learn more about the fascinating world of insects and the interconnectedness of life on Earth.
My Garden of a Thousand Bees (PBS doc)
Suzanne Simard Ted talk about how trees talk
Grave of the Fireflies - Trailer (animated movie)
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind – Trailer (animated movie)
Fantastic Fungi - Trailer (documentary)
The Overstory (novel)
NOVA episode of edible insects
About dung beetles' navigational abilities
Report by Will Vuyk:
Waving under an autumn wind, leaves of vibrant green, yellow and red added visual intricacy to an otherwise grey day. Picking up one of these leaves, pointing out its flattened petiole and triangular shape, field trip leader Paul Quinlan, Madison Parks Conservation Resources Supervisor, added his passion and knowledge to the beautiful fall scene as 25 eager participants arrayed themselves next to a cottonwood tree. Teaching more than just the names of trees and shrubs along the path out to Picnic Point, Paul began to reveal their individual uses and ecologies with insights into landscape architecture, fire ecology, succession, and invasive species management. Bolstered with new knowledge about why oak leaves wrinkle, how to identify the presence of emerald ash borer, and the culinary merits of sumac (just to name a few of anecdotes shared by Paul), when participants emerged from the forest after an hour and a half, they were able to look back and see it for the trees. Report and photos by Friends host Will Vuyk.