Wow! Thirty-five people arrived for a spring birding tour that began at 7:30am in a chilly mist overlooking the Class of 1918 Marsh. Roma Lenehan, a founder of the Friends and author of the Preserve’s breeding bird survey and Becky Abel, Madison Audubon’s Director of Philanthropy, led the three-hour tour that observed birds in the Class of 1918 Marsh, in University Bay from the Picnic Point trail, in the Marsh on the leeward side of the Point, in deciduous and pine woods, in the former orchard, and on Biocore Prairie.
And the birds cooperated. Becky Abel explained to the group the importance of stopover sites, like the Preserve, for migratory birds. On their journey north, birds stop to rest and refuel at three kinds of sites. Typically small, “fire escape” stopover sites, with limited resources, are infrequently used but vital in emergency situations. “Full-service hotel” stopover sites, like the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin, provide abundant food, water and shelter for migrants.Lying between those two extremes, the Lakeshore Nature Preserve serves as a ”convenience store” stopover site. Located within the city of Madison, this Important Birding Area is a place where birds can rest for a few days and easily replenish some fat or muscle, or both, before continuing. The Preserve offers a variety of habitats, fresh water and a variety of food sources, including fruit and insects (although with our cool, slow spring, insects have been slow to emerge).
Both leaders are expert birders-by-ear. Roma Lenehan recorded observing 65 bird species, and that doesn’t include the accipiter and the gulls we couldn’t identify! Some of the highlights were sighting sora in the Class of 1918 Marsh,