Saturday, May 06, 2017

The Monroe Water Tower Red-tailed Hawk Pair

6:34PM Meet Esmeralda, the formel of the Monroe,  Wisconsin watertower nest.

It was late today, and cloudy besides when I arrived.   Esmeralda popped her head up when I first appeared with the camera, like a good mom hawk, and did not seem nearly as petrified as the country hawks I've attempted to photograph in the area.  But then again her human neighbors report that this has been an active nest for about fourteen years.  

Her mate Hugo,  flew into the top part of an evergreen where he was invisible to check me out for a moment or two, decided I looked harmless and then took his leave to go about his late day business.  

The Faith family who live to the left of the water tower are the ones who first alerted me to this nest.  They reported that on two occasions over the years they found a Red-tail just standing in kind of a stupor in their back yard.  They called the local rehabber who came and retrieved the hawk, treated it, and brought it back to the yard for release.  

It is good to know that someone is looking out for them. 

Of course the formel may not always have been Esmeralda (or Hugo either) but if too frightened by people she wouldn't have chosen this site when  her mate Hugo showed her, her yearly options.

The water tower has a full blown neighborhood of  houses around it  and a playground just beyond its legs to the right besides.

The nest is situated on the catwalk just to the left of the leg support  center.  From this view, just beyond where the black walnut tree branches criscross each other.

Note the water tower is surrounded by black walnut trees whose nuts in season are a magnet for squirrels.  Not only is the tower a nifty place for a nest it is also a hunting perch when the nuts are in season.

Just to the right of the tower there is a children's playground which draws children of course.  Kids bring snacks and aren't all that tidy at times so that area too is a draw for prey.  

The original Urban Hawk, Pale Male, often hunts playground areas at dusk when the children have gone home and the rodents are on the prowl for dinner.  
6:42 PM Esmeralda's head disappears into the nest.  You can just see the twigs on the edge of the catwalk center if you look carefully.

7:15 PM  I waited a little over a half hour to see if Esmeralda  was going to give another look over the edge.  Nope.  She appears to be in for the night, whether she is still warming eggs or now brooding eyasses.

The next step will be for me to arrive earlier in the day and hope for Hugo to show up with prey and see if any feeding commences.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Friday, May 05, 2017

The Magical Appearance of Morel Mushrooms

                              These are morel mushrooms. 

 In some parts of the country, the parts that know about them, in a normal year they can sell for $35 to $75 a pound.  And morel hunters quard their morel grounds with a serious secrecy.  You'd think they were guarding a moonshine still in some cases.

They are not grown commercially.  Why?  Because the little rascals are totally and completely uncooperative.

They are said to grow in forests on slopes under particular kinds of trees...ash, elm, oak, and aspen.  Early Spring they grow in open woods often on south facing slopes and later in the season deeper in the woods on north facing slopes. 

Just about sunset today, I walked past the edge of my prairie garden, a flat area where milkweed is beginning to emerge, the closest trees are maple and they are a good way away.  There in the mulch from last year and trailing into the lawn were the above.

I asked.  

Yes,  they are morel mushrooms.  No slope.  None of the signature trees. And certainly not a forest.


Just goes to show the "best laid plans of mice and men..." don't mean squat to mushrooms.

Happy Morel Hunting...this is a good year to pay attention to the ground.

Donegal Browne