Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thursday Thirteen 242: Urban Wildlife

My friend L commented last week that I see more wildlife as a city girl than she does, and she actually lives in the country. This does seem to be true.



1. Though I live on the Madison/Fitchburg border, a mixed residential/commercial area, there are several nature preserves in the vicinity.

2. To my north across the highway is more than 1100 acres of the UW-Arboretum, a mix of prairie, woodlands and marsh. As you can probably imagine, it is teeming with a wide assortment of wildlife.

3. About a mile west is Grady Tract, a 100-acre extension of the UW-Arboretum on this (south) side of the highway, which I often walk. It's amazing how fast it can change from week to week, and season to season.

4. South of Grady Tract is Dawley Conservancy/Dunn's Marsh, which is actually part of the Nine Springs E-Way that stretches several miles east to Lake Farm Park. There is a major bike/walking path that is quite nice, and which occasionally affords one the chance to observe wildlife from a close though safe distance.

5. Part of Nine Springs was closed for a few hours Tuesday due to a brush fire. The unusually warm temps (80 degrees in March, a good 40 above normal!) and dry, windy conditions have caused several small wildfires across southern Wisconsin, and Dane County is under a fire warning. Hopefully rain coming in end of this week will help.

6. Due to the proximity of these nature preserves, we do see a lot of wildlife in my neighborhood. For starters, a pair of foxes resides in the narrow strip of woods separating this property from the business up the hill. While I have never actually seen them myself, friends who live on the back side of the building (hill side) report seeing them many times.

7. I have seen deer many times while walking Grady Tract, particularly just before dusk. I have also seen them in my backyard. Years ago as my mom and I were leaving for work early one winter morn, a trio walked out of the woods, came halfway down the hill, then stood looking about for several minutes before turning back the way they came.

8. Then there are the turkeys. I have only seen a few at the Arboretum, usually too far off the paths amidst the underbrush to get a decent look at them, let alone photos. The neighborhood where I live and walk a few times a week, however... I have often seen a solo tom or trio of turkeys walking the streets. Sunday night I saw not one, not three—but ten, all milling about the same yard, before four decided to go on a walk around the neighborhood themselves.

9. Last Wednesday afternoon I was walking the wooded trails at Grady Tract, just approaching the trail to Greene Prairie, when I heard the most awful screeching you've ever heard and knew instantly is was not a turkey. I veered off to the meadow and found four Sandhill Cranes. This is unusual as, though the boardwalk did squish a little underfoot, there is generally not enough water on this side of the highway for them. They usually nest in the marshy area behind the Visitor Center of the main Arboretum, across the highway. So, VERY cool sighting.

10. We also have raccoons, squirrels, turtles, rabbits, skunks (thankfully smell them more than see them), coyotes, duck and geese, moles, woodchucks (we almost smooshed one en route to work Wednesday)—and who knows what else. Plus, of course, a wide variety of birds. There are probably beaver at Dunn's Marsh, and I know there are some at the Arboretum, along Wingra Creek. Oh, and muskrats. You do not want to mess with them!

12. Though I did spy a huge old raccoon in one of the cherry trees at work last year, most of those I see are, sadly, along the side of the road. They're hard to see in the dark, and not so good about looking before they cross.

13. Which brings me to the end of this post and a joke from one of my sisters. Why did the chicken cross the road? To prove to the raccoons it could be done.


Find more Thursday Thirteen participants here.





18 comments:

Shelley Munro said...

How cool. I'd love having access to all of those spots.
We see quite a few native birds where we live, and we're handy to loads of beaches & offshore islands.

CountryDew said...

I love seeing nature where I live. And I have been enjoying your nature photos, too!

Brenda ND said...

Oh, what wonderful pictures. I'm with you. I love seeing animals where I live too-especially the sandhill cranes.

i beati said...

you are very fortunate

colleen said...

So cool. I love being in the country except for the fact that now we have a resident black bear! (Soon to wake up.)

Heather said...

Shelley: Many first time visitors to Madison often comment on how "green" it is. The city was platted out to include numerous parks and pleasure drives, which we still enjoy today. We also have numerous lakes and other waterways, so quite a diverse environment here.

Heather said...

Anita: Thank you. I love seeing all of the country photos you post, too. Access to the different nature preserves and living in such a walkable neighborhood are two of the things I love about where I live.

Brenda: Thank you! The cranes really are something to see, aren't they?

Heather said...

I beati: Yes, quite fortunate indeed!

Colleen: Thankfully, black bears are not common in Southern Wisconsin, though there have been reports the last couple years of one or two moving through the area in the spring.

Jaycee DeLorenzo said...

Wish I was closer to your type of nature - mine consists of snakes, scorpions, lizzards, bobcats and coyotes. Thanks for sharing!

My TT: http://blog.jayceedelorenzo.com

I am Harriet said...

Loved your chicken joke. I also enjoyed your nature.


Have a great Thursday!
http://harrietandfriends.com/2012/03/my-take-on-the-news/

Heather said...

Jaycee: Oh, I'm sure there are plenty of snakes off in the deep meadow grass--a good reason for not being tempted to stray from the marked paths or boarwalks and to wear sensible shoes. I am constantly amazed by how many people show up for weekend guided walks at the Arboretum wearing sandals and flip-flops. NOT a good idea, people!

Heather said...

Thanks, Harriet! I was wondering if anyone would comment on the chicken joke. *G*

Alice Audrey said...

What, no racoons? When I lived in Madison, I constantly ran into racoons around the Capital Square at night.

Pearl said...

that is a lot of spotting. snadhill cranes. wow. that last face looks pretty familiar tho. heh, chicken showing up the racoons. :)

Heather said...

Alice: Oh, they're around, I just never see them. Except once, when friends and I were returning home from fireworks--humongous raccoon was waddling across my friend's yard. I've never seen anything but squirrels and chipmunks downtown, either. Of course, I'm not usually up town at night.

Heather said...

Pearl: There are a lot of cranes around here, though a lot more I believe out by Cherokee Marsh, or the one in Middleton I am suddenly drawing a blank on. Lots of squirrels, though, as you can see, LOL. I think he was afraid I'd try to steal that walnut he was carrying in his mouth.

Hazel said...

Nature preserves in urban areas are quite a blessing for residents. Love the photos of birds you shared. When I find a single tiny bird perching on electric wires where I live, I'm already thankful.

Heather said...

Hi Hazel! It is definitely nice having so many parks and nature preserves around the city. Our city founders certainly knew what they were doing by planning so much green space. Now if only they'd been smarter than to place the city center in the middle of a mile wide isthmus...