About a month ago my partner and I went to the Motown Museum in Detroit with friends. It was great! In 1959, “a young African-American songwriter named Berry Gordy founded his company with a loan of $800 from his family, marking the birth of the Motown Records Corporation.” Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and many more got their start here.
August 3rd – Here’s a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Joe-Pye Weed in our backyard.
A foggy morning blends the boundary between the sky and Lake Mendota:
Mid-August is prime time for blooming Common chicory along roadsides. It apparently has many health benefits, such as boosting immunity and improving heart health. And I thought it was just a coffee substitute.
Biocore Prairie is part of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve near the University of Wisconsin’s (UW) Picnic Point, located west of the campus. The prairie was an abandoned agricultural field and is now an outdoor teaching area. It is a quiet and pleasant place and I encourage you to visit it.
I spotted this Northern Cardinal at Biocore. It appears to be leucistic in that there is a small white patch above the eye and there is no characteristic “mask” of black on the face. Leucism is a genetic mutation that prevents pigment from being deposited on a bird’s feathers.
Examples of prairie flowers:
A gentian – perhaps Hybrid Bottle Gentian:
Rough Blazingstar – one of my favorites:
The Lakeshore Nature Preserve Audio Trail is available by calling 608.327.5715. I called the number and selected “6” – and learned of a fire that consumed the area in 1935. It burned down a 15-room farmhouse, barn, and outbuildings. Prior to the fire, prosperous Madisonians would ride their horses on trails in the area, and then return to the farmhouse to sit on the porch with a cool drink. The owner of the farm also build the fieldstone wall at the entrance to Picnic Point (see later in this post).
In the woods adjacent to the prairie there were a few Jack-In-The-Pulpit plants. Each red berry produces 1-5 seeds. And they are poisonous.
Found on the periphery of the woods, White Snakeroot is a member of the Aster family. These are very prolific in spreading and will easily take over a yard or field. The plant is toxic, and has caused ‘Milk Sickness’ fatalities because the toxins can pass through the milk of dairy cows to humans.
I think I accidentally stumbled upon a theme here – poisonous plants. While walking back to the car from the prairie, I encountered Pokeweed. Although birds can eat the berries without a problem, all parts of the plant are poisonous to humans.
The UW campus Picnic Point entrance displays a massive fieldstone wall built in the late 1920s. Apparently the rocks were hand-picked from farm fields. There are many interesting specimens.
Dragonflies like the rocks, too. This is a darner but I cannot determine the exact species – can you?
I took pictures of various rocks on the wall. According to the fieldstone website (also includes definitions), the pinkish area of this rock contains Feldspar Megacrysts:
This bubbly-looking rock is Calcite cemented sandstone:
This rock is not identified on the website – any geologists out there know it?
There is evidence of differential weathering in this rock: “Removal by physical or chemical processes of components of a rock by preference to their hardness or chemical reactivity, resulting in an uneven surface.”
I don’t know….?…but it’s cool.
A deer wandered into our backyard on September 8th. That’s not unusual, but it was during the day and it appeared to be resting in an exposed area. It stayed several hours. We quietly investigated and it clumsily got up, putting most of it’s weight on the front legs. A call to Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital in Lake Geneva instructed us to give the animal time, space, and some water. They thought perhaps it had been hit by a car.
Later that day it moved to a secret spot within one of our rain gardens:
And then a day or so later it moved to a neighbor’s backyard. We were encouraged by it’s mobility. The deer ate a steady diet of the neighbor’s hostas. A few days before it left I snapped these pictures from inside the house. In all, the deer stayed 10 days.
A female Monarch butterfly in the backyard emerged from a chrysalis late in the season – September 22nd:
Speaking of butterflies!
My new children’s picture book My First Book of Common Wisconsin Butterflies is now available at the Madison library and through Amazon.
If there is one photograph on a page, the male and female of the species look similar/same. If they look different, the male is shown at the top of the page and the female at the bottom.
Lastly, if you haven’t heard of them, Groundswell Conservancy is a remarkable organization. It “protects special places, forever, in and around Dane County, Wisconsin.” They host events and one can also volunteer for them.
Enjoy the natural variety of days and nights in your neighborhood,